Stan Lee left behind a world of characters and stories that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Spider-Man is arguably his most beloved and iconic co-creation, and as fate would have it, the hero has a brand-new animated feature film hitting theaters this week! Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse incorporates many iterations of Stan’s most beloved character, Peter Parker, along with the momentous debut of Miles Morales, a character many fans have also been excited to see on the big screen. TheRealStanLee.com had the opportunity to attend the Hollywood premiere of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and needless to say, the day was bittersweet, but it ended up feeling like a celebration of the characters, the work put in by the cast and creators, and Stan’s impact.
As fans entered the blue carpet area filled with all things Spider-Man, like game demos, specialized merchandise, and art work, the first thing to greet them was a graffiti-inspired mural featuring a web-slinging Spidey and a comicbook-type caption, “Thank You Stan Lee.” It was a heartfelt message to see right at the start, and many attendees paused to admire the piece as they walked into the premiere.
Before the guests arrived, members of the press were given Stan Lee pins to wear not only to mourn the loss of Spidey’s co-creator but also honor his work and legacy at the event. Each time a person received a pin, they’d react with a heartfelt, “Awwww.” It was clear throughout the day that Stan’s touch was everywhere.
The actual red carpet was filled with artwork depicting the different Spider-People featured in the film. As cast and crew members made their way down the press line, it was apparent that they were all feeling very privileged and grateful to be a part of such an innovative and genuine production.
We were lucky enough to speak with some of the creatives involved with the movie, and while much of the cast has already appeared in large-scale productions or they’ve already done voice role work, it seems that the process by which Into the Spider-Verse was made provided them with new challenges and experiences.
Jake Johnson, who provides the voice of Peter Parker (one of them), has worked on many animated films in the past, so we asked him how this role differed from others. He explained, “This was way more being a part of the process. So, as we were recording, they were animating, and they were animating around our performance and then we were acting around the animation, so we were all kind of in it together.”
Shameik Moore, who voices Miles Morales and is the first person to portray Morales in a movie, was also visibly excited about his role, even though he wasn’t able to showcase how he would physically engage with the character in real life. He told us, “It’s like acting with the lights off, not being able to express myself with my hands or my facial expressions – it’s really just my voice… It’s the most amazing thing looking at the end product and seeing something so groundbreaking.”
Kids of all ages were present at the premiere, as well as families, actors, crew members, comicbook artists, writers, and several rap singers whose music appeared on the soundtrack. The diverse audience all shared laughs, gasps, and applauses throughout the movie.
Casual fans of Spider-Man and people who have delved into the lore of the illustrious source material alike gave thunderous applause as the credits rolled, followed by a few moments of silence for a heartfelt tribute to the legends behind Spidey, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, before the audience broke into more roaring praise and cheers.
Although the film isn’t a grand spectacle on the scale of Avengers: Infinity War, it will still remind fans of where it all started: with a kid from New York (who just so happens to have been bitten by a radioactive spider) who wants to protect the city and people he loves.
Producer Chris Miller summed up the heart of the movie perfectly as he said: “You don’t have to be super strong or an alien from outer space or a billionaire… to be a hero, anyone can be a hero. You can be a hero, and you should be, because we’re all counting on you.”
His filmmaking partner and co-writer of the film, Phil Lord, picked up on Miller’s sentiment and continued: “And heroes are vulnerable – they worry and they mess up – and that vulnerability and transparency allows us all to think, ‘Well, that could be me.’”
It sounds like key creatives behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse understood exactly what Stan was going for when he created Peter Parker – and those who have taken up the mantle of Spider-Man have followed in those footsteps, and for that, we thank them.