REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse
When they first announced that they would be doing an animated Spider-Man film, I bristled because it has been my dream to see all the Spider universe to exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I thought that this was Sony's bizarre way in continuing its grapplehold on the Spider-verse. I also admit I fell into the trap of looking down on animation as a legitimate form of storytelling (and I have no excuse because I have animation experience). But Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse proved me wrong on so many fronts as I believe this film to not only be one of the best Spider-Man films, but also one of the best superhero films of all time and the best animated superhero film.
I will always want Spider-Man and his villains to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I think this film shows that Spider-Man can exist both in the MCU and the Sony Spider-verse. I found this film to be incredibly funny, full of action keeping me at the edge of my seat, yet surprisingly emotional. Without giving any spoilers, there were a couple of scenes in which I got teary eyed (ie I cried), one of which took me off guard because I wasn't expecting it.
While most Spider-Man films center around Peter Parker, this film centers around Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli for the now defunct Marvel Ultimates comics line. Miles is a teenager who found himself in a situation that granted him spider powers and having to take over the mantle for Peter Parker's Spider-Man with no experience. Whereas Peter Parker represented a more gentrified New York of the past, Miles is an Afro-Latino kid from a multilingual family representing New York's vibrant diversity.
In the film, Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) has ordered the creation of a dimensional portal in order to bring his wife and son back. The experiment ends up bringing into this universe Spider-People from alternate realities. First, we meet Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) who was more of a washed up version of Spider-Man. He suffered a divorce, broke his back and gained weight. He has so much experience, though, that he immediately is able to assess the situation and can even, hilariously, guess what the villains will say. Miles sees him as a mentor who can hopefully teach him to be a better Spider-Man.
Soon, we are introduced to the other Spider-People, including Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) from a universe in which Peter Parker gal-pal Gwen Stacy is the Spider Person; Spider-Man Noir (hilariously voiced by Nick Cage) from a gritty 1930s alternate universe; Anime style Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) who pilots the robotic SP//dr suit; and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) from a world inhabited by cartoon animals. I have read the Spider-verse in the comics, but I think these characters, particularly Peni and Spider-Ham, shine in an animated medium.
To me, this film really is the epitome of the famous Spider-Man mantra "with great power comes great responsibility." I was wondering how cartoony this film would be especially with my knowledge of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller is from The LEGO Movie, but the movie carries a lot of weight and shows that our actions and inactions have consequences. I found many of these moments both shocking and emotional. These moments also really flesh out Miles's character as a hero. They give him the motivation to be the best he can be.
What is wonderful about this film is that it is sophisticated enough for adults, yet there is enough eye candy for the kids. I think all of the great animated superhero films (The Incredibles franchise and Big Hero 6 in particular) do this. But, I think, this film really captures the comic book medium the best. It's honestly the best movie to capture the medium since Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And it utilizes the animation medium in a fresh new way that isn't or doesn't imitate that Disney/Pixar look.
Also, be sure to stay through the credits. The end credit scene is hilarious and the mid credit "scene" was a tribute to Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko that left a lump in my throat.
What did you think about Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.