Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
by Ashley Hobley
Bitten by a radioactive spider, teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into Spider-Man. He must now use his newfound skills to battle the Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other dimensions.
2018 has been a spectacular year for Spider-Man. He played a important role in Avengers: Infinity War back in April before the PS4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man video game was released in September. Now we have the new animated film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, another amazing addition to the Spider-Man catalog.
The film focuses on Miles Morales (Shamiek Moore), a teenager from Brooklyn trying to adjust to going to a new school who, like Peter Parker before him, is bitten by a radioactive spider. While this could have been another origin film with Miles learning to be Spider-Man, the inclusion of Spider-People from other dimensions as a result of the Kingpin’s (Liev Schreiber) experimentation makes this so much more. Now, Miles has people who can help him to understand how to be Spider-Man and what it means. This is a good jumping on point for people into the Spider-Man canon but there are also a lot of inside jokes, references and easter eggs for long time Spidey fans.
The film does a great job at fleshing out Miles and telling his story while also juggling a slew of side characters. As someone with only a passing knowledge of Miles since his creation in 2011, it was interesting to see his strained relationship with his Dad (Brian Tyree Henry) and his adoration of his uncle (Mahershala Ali). I feared seeing another person dealing with suddenly getting spider powers would feel like a retread but the addition of an older Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) as a reluctant mentor made it fresh. The relationship between Miles and Peter B. Parker is at the heart of the film and kicks off with a hilarious scene involving a train through New York City that could definitely not be replicated in live action. Watching a young, desperate to learn Spider-Man and a Spider-Man who is past his prime and kind of over being a superhero is well worth the price of admission, even before throwing the other Spider-people to the mix.
The animation in this film is stunning to say the least. It is easily the most faithful adaptation of comic books to another medium we have seen yet and possibly the best. Through a combination of CGI and 2D animation, this feels like a comic book come to life, complete with caption boxes and written sound effects. It did feel a little jarring or stilted at the start of the film, but that seems to have been a stylistic choice and just a case of getting used to this style of animation. I didn’t have any issues throughout the rest of the film.
The character designs of several characters, especially for Kingpin and Green Goblin, are really great and could only be done in an animated format. There is also one alternate take on a character that I didn't see coming which was really cool. The animators also kept the unique looks for each of the spider-people’s dimension. Spider-man Noir (Nicholas Cage) has a black-and-white colour scheme, SP//dr and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) have an anime inspired look and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) would not look out of place in a Looney Tunes cartoon. And yet they all exist in the same world and interact with each other. Simply incredible.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a perfect blend of action, humour and heartfelt moments. This is truly a film that could not be told any other way, justifying itself to those who questioned why we need an animated Spider-man while we have the MCU live-action films. I’m hopeful that this is as financially successful as it is critically so Sony doubles down on this universe (multiverse?) and not their live-action attempts.
I also feel obligated to mention that the Stan Lee appearance in this is stellar and even more meaningful given his recent passing. So prepare yourself, There is also a post credits scene that’s a good laugh and a cool easter egg.
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman
Writers: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Jake Johnson, Liev Schreiber, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicholas Cage, Kimiko Glenn, John Mulaney
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