The 2019 Academy Awards were a celebration of inclusion, following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that began in 2015 and has haunted the show biz institution since. Peter Ramsey became the first African American director whose picture was awarded Best Animated Feature– ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’. Ramsey helmed the Sony film with Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman, and all three took the stage at the Dolby Theater to accept their golden statues along with producers Christopher Miller and Phil Lord.
Miller and Lord made sure to reinforce their film’s message of inclusion, especially that anyone can be Spider-Man, like main character Miles Morales, who is Afro-Latino. As Miller said at the podium:
“We share this with our fellow producers, cast, crew. There’s 800 filmmakers who pushed boundaries and took risks to make people feel powerful and seen.”
“So when we hear that somebody’s kid was watching the movie and turned to them and said ‘he looks like me’ or ‘they speak Spanish like us,’ we feel like we already won.”
Finally, Ramsey dedicated the win to the movie’s diverse audience:
“To our audience, thank you so much, we love you and we want you all to know we see you. You’re powerful. This world needs you. So, please, we’re all counting on you.”
Unfortunately, awards shows have a tendency to run long, so the crew behind ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ were played offstage at that point, before everyone got to say their piece.
Backstage, Ramsey addressed the responsibility of bringing Miles to the big screen:
“It’s a huge responsibility. This is something that’s going to be seen and taken to heart by millions of people, but everybody has to know that our whole team… all of them deeply felt the importance of that idea and that mission, so Miles had a lot of backup. He had a lot of people who really loved him as a character, believed in his story, and knew how important it was going to be to black kids, Latino kids, kids who just want to be their best selves no matter who they are. So everybody gave it 110 percent and we’re very gratified that people are receiving his story in the spirit in which we [wanted].”
Backstage, Persichetti revealed what else they wanted to say from the stage:
“I mean that was the ‘and finally’ that got played off. Maybe you don’t see that up here. Literally, we were just going to thank [Spider-Man comic book writer] Stan Lee and [artist] Steve Ditko for really inspiring this whole thing. And for being a force of believing that all of us human beings have the potential and the capacity to be heroes. I mean, that was really sort of from day one, Phil and Chris had put together a treatment and there was sort of a statement that was essentially saying it was a challenge to make a movie that challenged the audience to believe in themselves and to believe in their neighbor and really be positive and make a difference in the world and possibly be a mentor or be heroic. That’s from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.”
Indeed, this film would have never been made without Lee and Ditko‘s creation of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. The Everyman qualities of Parker heavily informs the characterization of Miles, who is essentially a modern-day examination of an average high school student who suddenly finds himself placed in the position of “great power” and “great responsibility.”
Lee, at least, was featured in the Oscar’s In Memoriam video montage. Even though his contributions were mainly in the field of comic books, he did serve as executive producer on the various ‘Spider-Man’ movies. Sadly, both Lee and Ditko passed away last year.
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ was the first non-Disney animated movie to win Best Animated Feature in eight years. The last non-Disney movie to win was ‘Rango’, and that is possibly because there were no Disney movies nominated that year. This year, ‘Spider-Man’ beat two Disney movies, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and Pixar’s ‘Incredibles 2’.
In all, it as a major year for Marvel superheroes and their films.
If you want to revisit ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ it will be released on home video tomorrow.
Source: Entertainment Weekly