“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” stars Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, and Lily Tomlin. Released on December 14, 2018, the film is about a teenager who uses his spider-like abilities to save the other alternate universes.
The film is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman. It is based on the Marvel character, Miles Morales, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. There have been many films that focus on Peter Parker and his alter-ego, Spider-Man, but what if there’s a Spider-Man film that doesn’t feature Parker as the main character? This latest take on the Marvel superhero shifts its focus to Miles Morales, a colored teenager from Brooklyn who, according to the comics he’s based on, assumes the role of Spider-Man after the death of Peter Parker. Since its first appearance in 2011, the character of Miles has been portrayed as a positive role model for people of color, especially children. However, he hasn’t had a solo film that’ll increase his popularity…until now. Since DC was successful with their animated theatrical superhero films, like “Lego Batman” and “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies”, it would make sense that Marvel wants to hop on the animation train as well, and what better way to make one than with everyone’s favorite webhead? So far, the film is receiving huge amounts of praise from critics and audiences, with most of them calling it the best Spider-Man film yet as well as the best animated film of 2018. I found this type of word-of-mouth to be surprisingly impressive, especially since it’s for something that is made by the same animation company that gave us the “Hotel Transylvania” films and “The Emoji Movie”. Now that I finally got the chance to see it for myself, is it really something that’s worth swinging for?
In the same tradition as the other Spider-Man origin stories, the film follows Miles Morales (Moore), a teen from Brooklyn who gained superpowers from a radioactive spider. After discovering Kingpin’s (Schreiber) plan to access parallel universes, Miles must learn how to use his new abilities in order to prevent Kingpin and the other villains from causing a humongous catastrophe. Along the way, he teams up with the Spider-Men from the other universes, such as the lazy version of Spider-Man (Johnson) and Gwen Stacy (Steinfeld), or Spider-Gwen, whoever you like to call her. As I mentioned before, the film follows the traditional Spider-Man origin story that we’ve seen in comic books and the movies that were helmed by Sam Raimi and Marc Webb. However, it doesn’t actually retread the story step-by-step. Instead, it offered a fresh and bold story that respects the qualities that made Spider-Man one of the best Marvel superheroes of all time. What makes this Spider-Man film a bit different than the rest is that it doesn’t rely on the “with great power, comes great responsibility” scenario. It’s a film about heroism. It’s about being a hero in one’s own way, not everybody else’s. Combined with a witty screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman and the film’s flashy visual style, “Into the Spider-Verse” has a sense of uniqueness that helped shape itself in its own image without swinging into familiar territory. What I also liked about the narrative is that it doesn’t treat itself as something that is made just for kids. Similar to the other films from Marvel, the movie is smart enough to make itself more suitable for Spider-Man fans young and old as well as parents in terms of the humor and the concept. Plus, there were a couple of scenes that might be a bit too intense for younger kids, so parents, better take some notes. Most of the films I’ve seen from Sony Pictures Animation were basically full-length cartoons designed for little kids, but it looks like the animation company finally found a film that works for both kids and adults. The cast did a swell job with their voice performances, especially Shameik Moore as Miles. Moore put plenty of charisma and heart into this role, and the result is a well-developed and likable character that kids can look up to. Jake Johnson was also entertaining as Spider-Man. At first, his voice acting felt a bit unenthusiastic during a couple of moments, but after putting some more thought into it, I think it’s how he’s supposed to sound like because of how the character is written. Let’s just say that this Spider-Man is not like the other Spider-Men from the live-action films, and that’s OK. The humor in the film was not only clever and intelligent, but it was also hilarious. There were actually a lot of good moments that adults can laugh about without feeling bad for themselves as well as moments that plenty of comic book fans might understand, including the film's post-credit scene. Another thing that I would like to talk about is the film’s animation. This has got to be the most complex and original style of animation that I have seen in my life. The animators made it their mission to transport their audience into the film’s comic book world that combines CGI with hand-drawn techniques made from comic artists, and based on what I saw, they accomplished that mission with ease. The animation is immersive, energetic, and visually striking. From its distinctive character designs to its frenetic and entertaining action sequences, the film’s style can be described as every comic book fan’s wet dream. Plus, it further proves that animation works well as a storytelling tool and not just something that’ll distract the kids. I also enjoyed the soundtrack that the film provided. It really represented the perspective of what a Brooklyn teen usually listens to.
Overall, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” successfully does whatever an animated Spider-Man film can to make itself both visually appealing and uniquely thoughtful. Ranging from its fresh and heartfelt storytelling to its incredible and original animation style, the film continues to make the Marvel superhero shine on the big screen in its own way. It is extremely fun to watch, but it is also a well-deserved piece of animation filmmaking that will be adored by comic book fans, families, and animation lovers for who knows how long. If you’re planning on seeing it, make sure you see it on the biggest screen possible. You won’t regret it.