“What I like about the costume is that anybody reading Spider-Man in any part of the world can imagine that they themselves are under the costume. And that’s a good thing.”
– Stan Lee
As a lifelong Spider-Man fan, Eb Mensah long dreamed of slipping into the friendly neighbourhood web-slinger’s iconic costume and fighting crime in his native Calgary, Alberta – a childhood fantasy he was lucky enough to recently fulfill.
The fifth-term Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre student was cast this past summer as Miles Morales in M’Guphynn Media’s production of Miles Behind: A Spider-Man Fan Film – an 18-minute short set to premiere on Jan. 3, which drew inspiration from Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee’s belief that ‘Anyone could be under the mask.’
“Spider-Man is one of my very favourite characters, because he is a character that everyone can relate to, in a sense,” said Mensah, praising Marvel for its recent diversification of the character with its introduction of Miles Morales in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
“That’s something that I really tried to embody in my approach going into this character in this film. I can’t say enough about how I really enjoyed playing him.”
Drawing inspiration from previous live action, animation and comic incarnations of Spider-Man, the Miles Behind film picks up where Into the Spider-Verse left off – with Miles Morales still trying to find his footing and voice as the new Spider-Man of New York City, while also keeping up with his regular life as a student and son of a police officer.
The defining moment of the film revolves around an attempted mugging, which sees Spider-Man come between the New York City Police Department and a young man tired of being marginalized and stepped on.
It’s a story M’Guphynn Media – the Fort McMurray, Alberta-based film production company behind the project – saw as “an opportunity to tell a story about representation making a literal difference in defining heroism.”
Mensah – who not only stars in, but is also credited as a writer and executive producer on the project – said he and his fellow story writers really wanted to elevate Miles Behind above that of your usual good-guy-vs-bad-guy superhero storyline.
“We wanted to keep it simple and we wanted to keep it real honest, too,” he said, noting they drew their inspiration straight from the last two years of headlines surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It really dives into the topic of systemic racism, because that’s something we really wanted to touch on…As a Black actor myself, I wanted to do my best to try to express and to convey a message within a superhero story and try to keep it relatable to what viewers experience.”
Also cognizant of how important representation matters, Mensah said he’s also happy to be part of a project that sees an Afro-Latino character take on the mantle of such an iconic superhero.
“I remember growing up loving this character so much – I wanted to be Spider-Man because he was someone I admired so much,” he said.
“So, I’m hoping the next little kid can watch this film, see me in the role, and realize that anybody can be a superhero – that’s something that would be truly heartfelt to me.”