Comic industry veteran and Canyon Country resident Chris Moreno recently got the opportunity to help bring one of his favorite superheroes to life as supervising director of “Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends,” the first full-length Marvel series for preschoolers.
While Moreno has worked in animation for about 10 years, most recently serving as co-producer and art director of Disney Junior’s Emmy-Award-nominated “Muppet Babies” and as art director on Disney+’s “Legend of the Three Caballeros,” he’s worked in the comic book and illustration industry for more than 20 years and was excited to bridge his experience in both industries.
As the supervising director, Moreno described his role on the new show as “director of the directors,” meeting with all departments and teams across the production, as well as Disney Junior executives, to help them get what they need to bring the show to life.
“When I was approached to join the project, I was just so excited about it. … It made perfect sense to me,” Moreno said, referring to the idea of making a kids’ version of Spider-Man.
“Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends” features some of Spider-Man’s most beloved and iconic characters in new storylines that follow along as Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales team up in heroic adventures to protect their community.
Geared towards preschoolers and their families, the series focuses on many of the classic Spider-Man values seen in the comic books, such as teamwork, friendship and cooperation to solve problems.
“That’s the thing I’m most excited about with this show is that we’re playing up the friendly neighborhood aspect of the character … (which) are such great values for kids,” Moreno said. “No problem is too big or too small for Spidey and his friends, and I think that’s always been key and core to the characters. They’re not superheroes that live above us … they’re part of our neighborhoods.”
These values are showcased in each episode as Spidey, friends and other Avengers, like Black Panther, Miss Marvel and Hulk, work together, learning that teamwork is the best way to save the day.
“The teamwork aspect of the show is very much indicative of the teamwork aspect of making animation in general, (as) all of these people band together to achieve a goal,” Moreno added. “That’s a big part of what makes them fun for me and why I enjoy it.”
And it’s been these values of teamwork and friendship that Moreno has heard from family and friends that has resonated with kids, he said.
“The fact that our cast of characters is so diverse … brothers are letting their sisters play and saying there’s a Spider character for everyone,” Moreno said. “It’s opened up a new way of play for kids to understand these characters and imagine being these characters.”
While Moreno said it’s only a coincidence that Spider-Man is one of his favorite superheroes, he’s grateful to bring them to life in this new iteration.
“The characters in that world have sort of stuck with me through my whole life … (and) I really feel grateful to be able to work on some of these characters that are childhood favorites of mine,” Moreno added. “I think that’s the thing I’m probably the most excited about is just introducing characters that we all love to a whole new generation.”
The series’ voice cast includes Benjamin Valic (“Sonic the Hedgehog”) as Peter Parker, Lily Sanfelippo (Disney Junior’s “The Chicken Squad”) as Gwen Stacy and Jakari Fraser (“Ben Is Back”) as Miles Morales.
“Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends” premiered Friday, Aug. 6, on Disney Junior. To watch, visit disneynow.com/shows/spidey-and-his-amazing-friends.