Miami-born TikTok star finds fame and strength in superhero stories

Back in 2021 Matthew Ramos put out a call to his three million TikTok followers. 

“Guys, I’m hosting a fan event, the Supes Spiderman No Way Home Fan Event.”

“Supes” as Ramos is known online, would be hosting his first ever in-person event. The event sold out in an hour.

A week later, at the AMC Theater in Burbank, where Ramos had recently moved after growing up in Miami, 500 people showed up for an early screening of “Spiderman: No Way Home.”

“We had people from around the world at this event, people from Australia, South Africa, India, New York, booking hotels, booking flights just to come watch this movie,” said Ramos

As a kid who struggled with a stutter and a rare genetic condition that affected the growth of his limbs, Ramos began posting videos online in high school. He has now amassed a huge online following, gaining such widespread popularity that in 2021 he moved from Miami to Los Angeles to pursue opportunities in the film industry. 

Since then, he has joined the growing cadre of digital influencers who market movies and TV shows online. Though he won’t disclose exactly how much money he earns, he says it is in the “six figures.”He is part of a ballooning global influencer industry that is projected to reach $13.8 billion in 2023. 

Studios regularly contact Ramos, who’s online persona “Supes” connects with fans to get them excited about upcoming projects. Ramos has 255k followers on Youtube, 214k on Instagram, 30.5k twitch subscribers and 3.1 million followers on TikTok. These platforms have massive appeal to millennials and Gen Z, demographics that are of significant interest to movie studios.

But before he was a social media celebrity, according to his mother Reina Ramos, Matthew was a shy child who connected with superhero stories.

“When the original Spiderman movies came out, I didn’t know it back then, but I think that’s what [Matthew] would identify himself with, people that aren’t always the norm,” she said “He would attach himself to that.”

Matthew concurred: “Losing myself in these stories allowed me to, I guess, escape my reality.”

Escape was important  because Matthew is afflicted with Proteus Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that caused his limbs to grow in different proportions. His mother describes a moment in pre-K when another parent curtly asked Matthew why he was “like that.”

“I lost it,” said Reina, “I think since that between pre-K and everything else he thought, let me not say anything to my mom because she’s going to freak out. So there were very few occasions where he actually would say anything about it. He was very internal.” 

Matthew’s condition caused his hands to swell so large that childhood photos show he can only curl his third finger when he attempts to recreate his favorite webslinger’s iconic hand gesture.

These experiences took a significant toll on Ramos as he grew up.

“When I was a kid, I struggled with the way that I look,” he says. “There were times where I would get bullied, where I’d get made fun of. It forced me to look inward and ask, ‘Why? Why God? Why am I the mistake?’”

Everything was transformed when Ramos began posting videos filmed in his room at age 16.

“When he started doing the videos, there was a night-and-day change,” Reina said about her son, “He was so excited to talk about it. He took it on and he was so ready to verbalize it to the world.”

Like the superheroes that inspired him, Ramos began leading a sort of double life to explore his passion. Between work as an after-school counselor and on construction sites on weekends and summer breaks, as well as being a student at Pinecrest Preparatory Academy, he would spend his nights posting videos.

His mother also saw the amount of work he put in: “When he wasn’t in class, he would be looking up topics for videos, researching, whatever he does,” she said.

“There were a lot of late nights and early mornings just grinding,” said Matthew. 

His early videos were far from popular, but Ramos reflected positively on those early days posting.

“On YouTube, which was my first platform…I had zero digital footprint whatsoever,” he chuckled. “I still remember the days running around my house celebrating and telling my mom ‘I hit 10 views! Double digits baby, we’re going somewhere!”’

Then at age 18 in 2019, after putting so much time and effort into building his YouTube platform, Matthew suddenly found a new avenue to express himself: TikTok.

His timing couldn’t have been better. After launching in the United States in 2017, TikTok exploded in popularity in 2019 and 2020. After garnering just 80 million downloads in 2018, the app saw 693 million and 850 million downloads in 2019 and 2020 respectively. 

Matthew was an early adopter.

The platform Ramos encountered was far different than what it looks like today, and that’s where he saw his opportunity.

“I came on TikTok and I saw people lip syncing and dancing and I thought ‘Is this all we can do on this app? Can we talk about other stuff?’”

And talk he did, sometimes posting multiple videos a day to Youtube and TikTok, and it was on the latter that his platform really took off. Part of his success can be attributed to the topic of his content, superhero films are consistently some of the highest grossing films of all time. Fifteen superhero movies have made more than $1 billion at the box office since 2008. But there is another quality that draws his fans in, his relentless positivity.

In a TikTok posted January 16, 2020, Matthew addresses a number of comments that asked about the size of his hands. Once a shy child, Matthew confidently looked directly into the camera and smiles:

“God blessed me with this beautiful body,” he said. “I was born like this, I’ve always been like this, and I own it.”

In short order, Matthew moved from Miami to Los Angeles to pursue his passions, leaving in July after his senior year of high school.

After the success of that first “Supes Spiderman: No Way Home Fan Event” in 2021, studios began to take note of his ability to draw a crowd and invited him to red-carpet premieres. He was able to walk among the stars who brought his favorite moves to life. He brought along his biggest fan, his mother. The woman who used to watch movies with her son stood beside him on the red carpet.

“Oh my, I was wearing heels, I couldn’t even walk in them,” Reyna says through a laugh, “But the pain in my feet was nothing compared to everything I felt. I was so in awe.”

Matthew will continue to share his passion for the stories that have shaped his life.

“That little kid that was once questioning his existence and looking to these films for inspiration would be over the moon to be in this position,” Matthew said. “I pinch myself every day.”

Carlton is a Digital Broadcasting student and intends to pursue a career in journalism. Born and raised in Broward County, he hopes to combine his passion for this community and storytelling to deliver news, insights, and perspectives to the people of South Florida.

Sebastian Cuervo is a senior majoring in digital journalism with a focus in sports journalism. After his studies, he wishes to pursue a career as an on-air sports analyst.