After being turned into dust, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has made his theatrical return, but this Spidey is from a different universe. From the studio that has made some questionable decisions when it comes to the wall-crawler’s lore, comes Spider-Man’s first animated feature film. Sony’s newest film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows the Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as he takes the mantle of Spider-Man in his universe.
Counting Venom, Into the Spider-Verse is Sony’s eighth outing of the Spider-Man franchise, and this is arguably one of their best Spidey films. As a child of the 90’s one of my favorite episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series was when Peter Parker met the other Spider-Men from a different universe, and this movie delivers on that premise in a big way. The Spider-Verse consists of different Spider-People across multiple universes who come together to stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) of Miles’ universe from destroying their individual universes. The film focuses on seven Spider-People and they’re animated based on the universe they come from. The Looney Tunes-esque Peter Porker/Spider-Ham, the anime-inspired Penni Parker/SP//dr, and the monochromatic noir styled Peter Parker/Spider-Man Noir never seem out-of-place when paired next to Miles or the other Spider-People (Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman, Peter B. Parker/Spider Man). Being able to blend in the different animation styles amongst each other while keeping the feeling of a comic book is why this film was so fun to watch. Even the small details like the sound effects captions that are sprinkled in really felt like a comic book come to life.
For an animated movie, Into the Spider-Verse, created an authentic representation of Brooklyn. There’s constant movement, people walking across the street, subways are always moving, background characters are diverse, and the city truly feels like it never sleeps. A perfect origin story for those who are notfamiliar with this version of Spider-Man. Miles Morales is an Afro-Latino teen, and unlike most versions of Spidey he has both of his parents. His African-American father is Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry), a police officer who doesn’t like Spider-Man because Web-slinger’s heroics undermines the men and women that wear the blue. Rio Morales (Luna Velez) is his Puerto Rican mother, and her opinion on Spider-Man is a sharp contrast to her husband because she thinks he’s doing good for the city. The film does a fine job of incorporating both of their heritage into Miles. Miles wears Nikes, does graffiti, and acts just as anyone would act if they experienced a life-changing event that turned them into a superhero. The New York vibe is not only apparent visually, but sonically the soundtrack used to score the film never misses a beat. Miles’ uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali) aka the Prowler is a petty street criminal and a bad influence on Miles. When he’s introduced in the film the music changes to gritty New York hip-hop that fits him perfectly. Overall, the sound of the movie is New York and compared to other Spider-Man films this movie got that right. I’m not well-versed in the boroughs, but the other films that are set in Queens do not come off as authentic compared to the way Into the Spider-Verse does for Brooklyn.
Lorde and Miller produced this movie in a way that not only does it take place within the different multiverses presented within the film, yet other Spider-Man movies take place in alternate universes. Pulling this off isn’t an easy feat, but Lord and Miller made it happen. The post-credit scene in Venom showed a clip from this movie with a caption of “meanwhile in an alternate universe,” and during this film it referenced Sam Rami’s Spider-Man films of the early 2000s. There’s a running joke where the monochromatic Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) cannot see color since his universe doesn’t have color. Spider-Ham can do all the slapstick humor that a typical Looney Tunes cartoon can. All of these things are alongside SP//dr Penni Parker from the anime universe and everything is organic. If there is a sequel and they incorporate live action Tom Hardy as Venom or Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, I think Lorde and Miller could pull it off with ease.
Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) isn’t from Miles’ timeline is the Spider-Man that never got his life together. Whereas the original Spider-Man (Chris Pine) from Miles’ timeline is the antithesis of that. Seeing both of these characters in the same movie shows how easy it would be for Peter to make a mistake and his life does a complete 180. Comparing MCU Peter Parker to the ones in this film kind of shows where he would be if he didn’t have Tony Stark as a mentor to count on. Even the Stan Lee (RIP) cameo in this film has meaning to it. It’s not just your typical Stanmeo, and with his recent passing it adds emotional weight to it.
The way Into the Spider-Verse is structured so it sets up many possible sequels. The characters are written in a way where you want to learn more about the universes they come from. Since the MCU has Peter Parker under control for now, I think there are enough versions of Spidey that could focus on different iterations of the character. I’m here for a Nick Cage as Spider-Man Noir film or an anime SP//dr film. Even if the big screen isn’t an option there’s room for a tv/Web series involving these lesser-known characters. This film untagles webs of the past and works as a perfect origin story that swings forward for the future.
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was released in theaters December 13, 2018.