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.”


Jury awards $250,000 to US woman jailed without seeing a judge

Updated 35 min 7 sec ago
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Jury awards $250,000 to US woman jailed without seeing a judge

  • Jessica Jauch jailed 96 days without seeing a judge, a case spotlighting how Mississippi state still struggles to provide access to lawyers
  • After finally seeing a judge, she was appointed a public defender and was eventually cleared of the drug charge

JACKSON, Mississippi: A Mississippi jury awarded $250,000 in damages Tuesday to a woman jailed 96 days without seeing a judge, a case spotlighting how Mississippi still struggles to provide access to lawyers or bail to people jailed before trial.
The verdict included $200,000 in damages against Choctaw County Sheriff Cloyd Halford and $50,000 against the county. It was handed down Tuesday after a two-day trial in federal court in Aberdeen. The jury was only determining how much Jauch was owed, after US District Court Judge Sharion Aycock earlier ruled that the county and Halford were liable.
Jessica Jauch was originally arrested on traffic charges in 2012 and held in Choctaw County after being served with a drug indictment. While in jail, she was forced to temporarily sign over her daughter’s custody rights to her mother. After finally seeing a judge, she was appointed a public defender and quickly made bail. Eventually, she was cleared of the drug charge after undercover video didn’t show her committing any crime.
Daniel Griffith, a lawyer who represented Choctaw County in the trial, said Jauch testified that other women who were arrested would bond out quickly. Jauch’s own lawyer, Israel Fleitas, declined comment. Griffith said Halford and Jauch shook hands while jurors were deliberating Tuesday.
“I can tell you the sheriff is a good man,” Griffith said.
Griffith said the county government’s damages will be paid by insurance. He wasn’t sure if Halford is insured or if he will have to pay his share of the money personally. Jurors awarded the $250,000 as compensatory damages, rejecting additional money for punitive damages.
Halford had argued that he didn’t have to take Jauch before a judge until court met because she’d already been indicted on a felony drug charge, thus establishing probable cause for her detention. The problem was that in Choctaw County, like many rural Mississippi counties, circuit court only meets twice a year, and the next meeting was months away.
The county and Halford also argued the illegal detention was the fault of failures by state court judges. It’s unlikely Jauch would have ever collected money from judges because they’re generally immune from lawsuits.
Aycock originally agreed with the county, dismissing Jauch’s case in 2016. But the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals was sharply critical of Aycock’s ruling, reinstating Jauch’s case in 2017 and calling her detention “unjust and unfair” and “alien to our law.” The full 5th Circuit and the US Supreme Court refused to hear further appeals by the county.
Mississippi has continuing issues with people being arrested before trial and held for months or years with little access to a lawyer or bail. Since Jauch was arrested, the state Supreme Court has enacted new rules of criminal procedure last year that are showing some progress in keeping poor people from being stuck in jail without a lawyer or bail. Those rules say that, among other things, those arrested before being indicted are supposed to appear before a judge within two business days, and anyone arrested after indictment must be arraigned within 30 days.
Griffith, who represents a number of local governments, said those rules are making a difference, along with the publicity surrounding Jauch’s case and others in which governments have been sued for jailing people.
“Nobody wants to be sitting where the sheriff was sitting,” Griffith said.
He said Choctaw County jailers are now sending a list of inmates who need a court appearance to a judge every day. Ultimately, though, Griffith said Mississippi needs a statewide system of public defenders, instead of the part-time defenders who are assigned in most counties. Lawmakers failed to act this year on such a proposal put forward by a task force.