Because there are an overwhelming number of iterations of Spider-Man and various Spider-people, how did Ramsey and his co-directors Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman go about picking their Spider-team? "The interesting thing is this: The cast of spiders that ended up in the film was the original choice from the very beginning when there was an official treatment from Phil [Lord] and Chris [Miller] and then the first draft of the script," Persichetti said. "Over the course of making the movie, just thinking about all of the different possibilities, strangely enough we ended up right back at the choices they made."
Miles Morales, though, was always going to be the star.
"When Phil and Chris were first approached about the project by producers Amy Pascal and Avi Arad, they weren't interested in doing an animated Spider-Man movie unless it could be the Miles Morales' story," Ramsey explained. "They really loved what Brian Michael Bendis had created with him." In case the only Spider-Man you're familiar with is Peter Parker, Morales was created in 2011 by comic book writer Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli as a new, more diverse hero inspired by both then-president Barack Obama and rapper and actor Donald Glover. He's biracial, black and Latino, and inherits the role of Spider-Man after getting bitten by yet another radioactive arachnid and watching Peter Parker get taken out by the Green Goblin.
Morales comes to life with the help of Shameik Moore, who provides the young character's voice, and found that his experiences parallel the comic hero's in ways that helped him make the character his own. "When we cast Shameik, he really took on a really specific characterization," Persichetti said. "He had a somewhat sheltered life, he had two loving parents -- Miles has the same thing. He has two loving parents, he's in the city, he tries to escape and go out there with his uncle. All of these things really resonated with Shameik, and they helped really color Miles in a really realistic, naturalistic, and honest way."
Spider-Verse's voice cast is an impressive undertaking, featuring the talents of Jake Johnson, Chris Pine, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber, comedian John Mulaney, Hailee Steinfeld, and, weirdest of all, Nicolas Cage as the brooding Spider-Man Noir. He had just broken his ankle when the directors first met with him to talk about the role. "Peter and I went and met him in a hotel, and he had this cane with a skull on it, and everything covered in gold, and we were like, whoa, okay," Persichetti said. "And then we revealed the look of his character, and he pretty much was like, 'I wanna wear that.'"