Phil Lord Was Adamant ‘Spider-Verse’ Not Use Subtitles for Spanish-Language Scenes

Producer and co-writer Phil Lord ensured the Sony animated superhero movie accurately represented the Spanish language.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Purposefully Does Not Use Subtitles
"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"
Sony Pictures Animation

Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is full of eye-popping animation and lovable variations of the titular superhero, but one thing it’s lacking is subtitles. During scenes in which Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) converses with his mother, Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez), the film features the Spanish language but does not subtitle the conversations. The choice was a purposeful one made by “Spider-Verse” producer and co-writer Phil Lord.

“I grew up in a bilingual household in the bilingual city of Miami where you hear Spanish all over the place, and it’s not particularly remarkable,” Lord told Remezcla at the “Spider-Verse” premiere. “It was important for us to hear Spanish and not necessarily have it subtitled. It’s just part of the fabric of Miles’ community and family life.”

Lord, whose mother is from Cuba and father from the United States, said he related to Miles in the movie and “certainly understands what it’s like to feel like you’re half one thing and half something else.”

Lord is best known for his collaborations with his directing partner Chris Miller, including “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie.” The two famously were involved with “Solo: A Star Wars Story” before being removed from the project months into production and replaced by Ron Howard. Miller co-produced “Spider-Verse” with Lord.

Another point of concern for Lord was making sure Miles and Rio don’t have the same Spanish-sounding accent. “Miles is second-generation, so he speaks different than his mother,” he said. With “Spider-Verse,” Lord wanted to ensure that both the Spanish language was represented as an everyday part of Miles’ life and that it showed the progression of the language through different generations.

One person applauding Lord’s focus on the film’s Spanish language is Velez. “That was really bold, because if you use subtitles all of a sudden we are outside, and we are not part of this world anymore,” the actress told Remezcla. “It was brilliant that they just allowed for it to exist.”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has earned critical acclaim, winning Best Animated Film honors from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angles Film Critics Association. The movie is nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes and is widely considered to nab an Oscar nomination. The movie opens nationwide December 14.

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