Behind the Mask
I’m the kind of guy that enjoys superheroes and science fiction. I read comic books, get (probably too) excited about the newest Marvel movie, and have many 1000+ page fantasy tomes on my bookshelf. I listen to podcasts about the movies I watch and the books I read because I want to stave off that inevitable feeling of loss when a good story ends. A small, childlike part of me still hopes that someday I’ll get to visit a galaxy far, far away, be bitten by a radioactive spider that’ll give me insane powers, and receive my Hogwarts letter with sincere condolences that it took so long to arrive (though I suppose I would’ve ended up at Ilvermorny). In other words, let me spell it out for you, I am a huge nerd.
That’s why when I finally had the chance to see the new Spider-Man movie I was more than a little excited. I may or may not have been bouncing and squealing as the previews started rolling. Just ask my wife (to whom much credit is due for putting up with my high-level nerdom and spending 2 ½ hours of our date keeping me confined to my seat).
Fear not my less-obsessive friends, for no spoilers abound here—though if you’d like to privately discuss the gloriousness of the film in excruciating detail, it would be my absolute pleasure. All I’ll say here is that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and it exceeded my expectations.
Now, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. There’s just something about him that more relatable than other superheroes. I’m not superlatively virtuous like Captain America (nor am I nearly patriotic enough). I’m not a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist like Tony Stark. Nor am a I dark, brooding, vigilante detective like Batman. But a dorky teenager who grows up to be a quirky guy dealing with and enduring the seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life (and who just happens to get amazing superpowers from a radioactive arachnid), now that’s someone I can identify with.
In fact, that’s essentially what Spider-Man co-creator Stan “The Man” Lee had in mind when he first envisioned the character. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lee said he liked Spider-Man because “He’s the one who’s most like me—nothing ever turns out 100 percent OK; he’s got a lot of problems, and he does things wrong, and I can relate to that.” Spidey’s iconic costume also plays into the relatability factor. Because you can’t see his face when he suits up, it allows readers or viewers to picture themselves under the mask. Lee said much the same thing in a 2015 interview with Newsarama: “What I like about the costume is 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.”
Though I’ve never had the pleasure of swinging around Manhattan with my web shooters, chasing down the latest baddie from my exploding rogues gallery—and, unfortunately, probably never will—I can still connect with Spider-Man because I know underneath the spandex is a guy like me who has a story full of ups and downs, joys and challenges. And not only can I connect in that way, but so can countless other people from infinite backgrounds. Because we all have stories, and that’s one of the most fundamental, universal connections the world over.
As is often the case these days, I started connecting these thoughts with my experience in voiceover. Working in VO is a lot like putting on a superhero costume. For a little while, I put on a new voice, step into the life of a different person or character, and get to play the role of something entirely different from my normal day-to-day. It’s fun to think through your favorite animated characters, commercials, or even virtual instructors and imagine the person behind the voice. Who are they, really? What is their life like? What villains are they battling? Who might they be a superhero to?
Looking toward the future, I get excited dreaming about the different roles, characters, and stories I might get to bring to life someday with my voice. So many possibilities exist, and I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll even get the chance to pull on my Spidey mask and be the hero I’ve admired for so long.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller