Volume Seven, Issue Fifty!
“Movie Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Spider-Man has had many films, but Into the Spider-verse is different. Not only is it the first animated feature film starring the wall-crawler to hit theaters, it’s also the cinematic debut of not only Miles Morales, but Gwen Stacey’s Spider-Woman (aka Spider-Gwen). Showcasing the young Miles’ origins as the new Spider-man, as well as hosting a bunch of other spider-characters, Into The Spider-Verse could have been a mess, a cheap corporate cash-in on the Spidey brand name. Instead, it stands as not only the best animated feature of the year, but one of the greatest comic book films ever, and possibly even the best Spider-Man film.
You’re best off going into this movie cold, but it’s worth noting that Into the Spider-Verse‘s primary focus is on Miles Morales (Shamiek Moore), a teenager who lives in New York City. In his world, Spider-man is the most popular superhero around, appearing on cereal boxes, TV ads, and even on the radio with his own Spidey jingles. When Miles is bitten by another radioactive spider and given his own set of powers, he initially doesn’t think that he’s the right kind of person to take on criminals like the “real” Spider-Man. But when his universe’s Spider-Man is struck down in an attempt to stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and his dimensional portal, Miles finds himself teaming up with other Spider-Men that have been pulled into his world, including Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), and a sad-sack Peter Parker from an alternate universe (Jake Johnson), who all agree to help show him the ropes in super-heroing.
That sounds like a lot of plot, and make no mistake, Into The Spider-Verse has a lot of ground to cover. Yet it balances Miles’ origin, a trans-dimensional plot, subplots for each Spidey character, AND time for Miles’ supporting cast in a way that mostly flows well. There’s a bit of a drag in the middle, and at close to two hours it may be a little long for younger viewers, but there’s some fantastic moments throughout, and directors Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman, and Peter Ramsey handle the visual stye like no other animated film I’ve seen before. There’s a kinetic stye to Into The Spider-Verse that can’t be beat, almost as if you’re watching a comic book come to life before your very eyes. Plus there are enough easter eggs for die-hard Spidey fans to geek out over that it’ll demand multiple viewings.
As great as the direction and art style is, it can’t hold a candle to the voice acting in Spider-Verse, which stands as some of the best I’ve heard in a long time. Shamiek Moore embodies the young Miles in a lot of great ways, giving his conflicted desires a lot of weight in emotion. Miles is like all of us in middle school: he wants to be cool and fit in, but he’s also a good kid at heart, and has no idea what he really wants to do in life. Jake Johnson, a favorite of mine from the TV show New Girl, is pretty stellar as a sad, slightly older (and pudgier) Peter Parker, who needs to learn how to be a hero once again. Hailee Steinfeld, John Mulaney, and especially Nicolas Cage fill out the rest of the stellar team of Spiders, and each create a very impressive impact that will stay with you long after the movie ends.
Simply put, Into The Spider-Verse does a fantastic job of distilling what makes Spider-Man so relatable and fun into a two-hour movie. Hell, it distills down the fun of comics in a two-hour movie. While it’s easy to look at the hype around this film and think “well, there’s no way it’s THAT good”, the simple fact is that it IS that good. It blows almost every other comic book film out of the water with how well it nails the tone of Spider-Man, and serves as a feature film worthy of not only Peter Parker, but Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy too.