Juan Carlos Arvelo Talks Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Legacy, & the Franchise’s Success

ATM: What is your reflection in regard to a human’s need to protect?

JC: Wow, this is a good question. For me, it means how we all have a great capacity to accomplish anything that we define in our lives.  The sky’s the limit when a group of people team up to work together toward a specific goal. You are capable of creating great things, especially when you appreciate and support each other and push each other forward to achieve a goal.

ATM: How do you feel the main character remained as himself while being in the multi-universe with others?

JC: I think that the main character’s drive was his desire and commitment to help the other characters from the threat they were all facing. That helped him to remain as himself while being in the multi-universe with the others. This was a conscious and willing desire to become the best version of himself in his reality in order to be able to protect the others from losing themselves in the other realities.

ATM: How does your character continue the drive that is seen in the main character or the other characters?

JC:  I was hired to be Shameik Moore’s Spanish sound alike to add Spanish words and idiomatic expressions in Spanish to Miles Morales, the character he played, and who is Nuyorican. After the recording was made, my voice ended up being used in different moments throughout the movie instead of it being only used for Miles Morales’s character. My participation turned into a contribution for the movie as a whole rather than just one specific character.

ATM: What is so terrific about this film’s Golden Globe-winning animation and Academy Award nominated style?

JC: This movie has its own unique style. It uses a different kind of animation that reflects the Spider-Man comic book background of the characters. I think that’s what makes it not only terrific but one of a kind in the world of animation.

ATM: How does the storytelling in an animated film help us get closer to the moral compass of the story?

JC: It is much lighter to see animated characters drive the story instead of real people while still delivering diversity and variety. The characters in the film are characters that anyone can relate with. They reflect the reality of the world we live in. This is the beauty of the film. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse invites us as an audience to look at the story and to identify with the characters we are watching on screen, hopefully inspiring real life engaging and connecting between everyone because, like the movie says, we are all the same.

ATM: How does the success of this film contribute to the meaning of Spider-Man in our culture?

JC: This movie is a shift from the “norm.” For me, it re-defines the meaning of Spider-Man in our culture to one where everyone can wear the mask. Now we are all Spider-Man.  Now we all have the power to get together and fight for our wellbeing and unite to do the same for the benefit of others as well. The idea of this is very powerful, especially living in a moment and time where there is a lot of friction going on in the world and in politics. This movie is so powerful because it unites us. It serves a better purpose for life in this world. 

ATM: What was your connection to Spider-Man as a child?

JC: I was not that much into animated characters as a child. I am originally from Puerto Rico, so while growing up there I was more engaged in watching the local shows in Spanish. I was not as exposed to superhero cartoons, so there was not that much of a deep connection for me back then. That has changed though. Now, I am a fan.

ATM: As a young boy, what was the status of animation in your hometown?

JC: I come from a family where no one is connected to the film industry. I was more of a kid who went outdoors to ride his bike all day. I was not the kid that sat down to watch T.V. I feel I became an adult while living in Los Angeles and now I appreciate the world of animation and learning about it even more. Right now, I am more likely to tell engaging stories that are more real, to create things that are important in our lives and to always have fun.

ATM: A woman is also a protector of some nature, could this be her way of putting herself in the position of Spider-Man who is played by a male?

JC: Definitely. Spider-Man and women are similar in their nature to protect. They have a natural tendency to take care of others. It could be on how they protect a child or their family or anyone. It is such a beautiful thing to learn from.  To be able to protect in this way shows great strength and great power and we are all capable of it.

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