Spider-Man is back on screen, but this time he’s black and Latino

Jake Johnson, Shameik Moore, Mahershala Ali, Luna Lauren Velez, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin and film makers attend the Photo Call For Sony Pictures Releasing's "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on November 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)
Updated 02 December 2018
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Spider-Man is back on screen, but this time he’s black and Latino

  • The idea for a Spider-Man of color first took hold in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected US president

LOS ANGELES: For what seems like the umpteenth time, Spider-Man is back on the big screen.
But this year, when Hollywood is under the microscope on the hot-button issue of diversity, the superhero is half-black and half-Latino.
Step aside, Peter Parker. There’s a new Spidey in town. Hello, Miles Morales.
Miles as Spidey is not new to comic book enthusiasts, but he is new to theater-goers, who earlier this year embraced the long-awaited arrival of the Marvel universe’s first black hero, Black Panther, on the silver screen.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which hits US theaters on December 14, is a free-wheeling animated look at the multiple Spideys in parallel dimensions, including Spider-Ham (yes, a pig) and two women.
This time, an older Parker is a mentor to Miles, who is voiced by 23-year-old Shameik Moore, an Atlanta-born actor and singer with Jamaican roots.
Long before Moore landed the major role, he hoped he would get the chance to play Miles, he told AFP in an interview. He had even written about it in a journal given to him by a friend.
“One of the things I wrote in there very early on was, ‘I am Spider-Man. I am Miles Morales,’” he said.
Moore first drew notice in the well-received indie film “Dope” in 2015. He says being chosen to play Morales is as rare as... being bitten by a radioactive spider.
“That spider chose him. However, many thousands of people live in Brooklyn... Sony chose me to play Miles Morales out of the hundreds of thousands of people that auditioned,” he recounted.

The film recalls the visual style of the original comic books, with less refined art and speech balloons that appear on screen.
Its release comes one month after the death at age 95 of the character’s creator, Marvel legend Stan Lee.
But the man behind a stable of heroes, from The Hulk to the X-Men, is still present — he is listed as an executive producer and, as is customary for Marvel films, Lee has a cameo appearance — in animated form.
The cast features Oscar winners Mahershala Ali (Miles’s uncle) and Nicolas Cage (Spider-Man Noir), and Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld (Spidey’s love interest Gwen Stacy) and Lily Tomlin (Parker’s Aunt May).
The film is generating major buzz, and currently has a 100 percent “fresh rating” on Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from critics.

The idea for a Spider-Man of color first took hold in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected US president.
Miles, whose father is black and mother is Latina, first hit comic book stands as Spider-Man in a parallel universe in 2011 following Parker’s apparent death.
In an animated television version, of-the-moment actor-musician Donald Glover voiced Miles.
But a film adaptation always seemed likely, as Tinseltown works to show that not all superheroes have to be white men. “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman” stand as proof that fans are ready for different heroes.
“Everything is based off the business,” said Jake Johnson, who plays Parker in the film.
“The reason that projects are getting more multicultural and more women as leaders... People want to see that — they’re paying to see it.”


Children’s author Judith Kerr, who wrote ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’, dies

Updated 23 May 2019
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Children’s author Judith Kerr, who wrote ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’, dies

  • Kerr's family fled Germany as the Nazi's rose to power
  • She based the characters on animals she had seen in real life

LONDON: British writer and illustrator Judith Kerr, whose death at 95 was announced on Thursday, captivated young readers around the world with her tales of a fluffy tiger coming to tea, a trouble-prone cat and her own family's flight from Nazi Germany.
With curly hair and a mischievous smile, the petite Kerr worked well into her 90s, saying she even picked up the pace in old age, drawing inspiration from events in her own life to become one of Britain's best-loved children's authors.
Kerr was born in Berlin on June 14, 1923, fleeing Germany 10 years later after a policeman tipped off her father Alfred Kerr, a prominent Jewish writer, that the family was in danger from the rising Nazi power.
"My father was ill in bed with flu and this man rang up and said: 'They are trying to take away your passport, you must get out immediately'," she recalled in an interview with AFP in June 2018.
He took the first train to Switzerland and his wife and two children soon joined him. A day after their escape, the Nazis took power.
The family moved on to Paris before settling in London in 1936.
This story is loosely recounted from a child's perspective in Kerr's semi-autobiographical novel "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit" (1971) in which the fleeing girl can only take one toy and so leaves behind a favourite rabbit.
Kerr, who started drawing at a young age, credited the success of the book with being "published at a time when the Germans hadn't really managed to talk to their children about the past".
But she is better known for "The Tiger Who Came to Tea", released in 1968 to become a global classic of children's literature, with at least five million copies sold and published in more than 30 languages.
Kerr's first picture book, it tells of a girl and her mother interrupted at teatime by a huge, fluffy tiger who eats everything in sight before leaving again.
She was able to write up the story -- a bedtime favourite of her young daughter -- while her husband was at work and their two children at school.
The fictional family mirrors her own at the time, the illustrations featuring the yellow and white kitchen cupboards of their London home.
Kerr used tigers at a London zoo as models for her feline creation.
Next was "Mog the Forgetful Cat" (1970), the first in what became a 17-book series about the antics of a mischievous, egg-loving moggy inspired by her own pet.
"Goodbye Mog" (2002) was meant to be the last offering -- broaching the subject of death with the much-loved cat departing for heaven. But supermarket chain Sainsbury's persuaded Kerr to produce one more in 2015: "Mog's Christmas Calamity".
Proceeds of the last book were for Save the Children's work on child literacy, and a TV advert was the first to feature Mog in animation with Kerr herself also making a cameo appearance.
In her illustrated story "My Henry" (2011) -- for children and adults -- an elderly lady fantasises about adventures with her late husband, such as climbing Mount Everest, hunting lions, and riding dinosaurs.
Kerr dedicated the book to her husband Thomas Nigel Kneale, a respected screenwriter who died in 2006. The couple met at the BBC, where they both worked, and married in 1954.
Commenting on the book in 2011, The Telegraph wrote: "For all the depth of underlying emotion, there's a celebratory feel to it, an unfeigned lightness of spirit that, throughout her life, has been a great boon.
"It has helped her cope with widowhood just as it allowed her to get over the loss, exile, penury and frustration of her early life."
In 2012 Kerr was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to children's literature and Holocaust education.