It has been an emotional roller coaster of a year for Marvel fans, beginning with the culmination of the decade-long event in Avengers: Infinity War to the loss of the Don of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee (Rest in Peace, Excelsior). Yet, the year has found the most appropriate full stop in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
To ruin this movie with spoilers would be unfair to the people happen to stumble across this review without watching the film, should land me a sentence to Rykers’. So, here’s an attempt for a spoiler free review.
The movie introduces the blockbuster audiences to Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man of Earth 1610 and successor to the fallen Peter Parker of the Universe. Into the Spider-Verse sticks as close to the source material as possible in the limited time off that can be held in a film, while using this limitation to take its own spin at the lore. As a person who worshipped the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, that is the Peter Parker story, and shed tears at his death (which lost weight when they retconned it). I felt reluctant to anything with Miles Morales as it felt like replacing a dog you raised for years. Yet, this movie helped me thaw my stance to the point of actually digging the Miles Morales Spider-Man.
Miles’ relationship to his father and uncle, who are both on different sides of the track, take a central focus in Miles’ journey of self-discovery. Though, he does get some help from his Spider Comrade. Alienation among the Spider folk is part of the conflict, with Peter Parker’s midlife crisis and Miles’ advent of puberty. Yet meeting the other Spider crowd allows them to see that they are not alone.
It is evidently clear that the writers of the movie were passionate about the source material and held it as a sacred text. Into the Spider-Verse is injected with hilarious self-awareness and dramatic themes that walk the fine line a knee-slapping comedy and a coming-of-age action movie. Spider fans of all media should keep a hawk-eyed observation to all the in-your-face and subtle references laid around the movie to add to a certain rewatchability for those who are probably going for a second watch (like myself).
Visually, this has been one of the best looking movies I have seen since Blade Runner 2049. The comic panel styling/pop art textures add a flavor to the movie not quite seen before in mainstream animation’s past. Keeping to Miles’ Afro/Latino New Yorker background, the soundtrack is emphasized with modern and classic hip-hop that fills the mood of Miles’ pubescent journey. One particular OST even plays a role in the movie.
The cast of Into the Spider-Verse had done a solid job in bringing the characters to life. Be it in the dramatic lows or comedic highs, the performance were convincing and committed. Jack Johnson as a destitute, desolate, and dad-bod Peter Parker was a Spider-Man I didn’t know I wanted, but I definitely needed. Nicolas Cage as Spider Noir takes his inspiration from a scene from that dog turd movie; Dog Eat Dog, where he attempts a Humphrey Bogart impression (referring to himself as stretched out H. Bogart), and nails it this time. Liev Schreiber’s take on the Kingpin switches between menacing and grief struck (though it was a bit of a disappointment that there was no “*inhale* when I was a boy line”). Oh and Earth 1610 Aunt May is a bit of a badass.
Spider-Man has an interesting history on the big screen from the fan favorite Raimi trilogy, the saddeningly disappointing Amazing Spider-Man to the enjoyable Spider-Man: Homecoming and hopeful Spider-Man: Far from Home. Into the Spider-Verse was a welcomed and innovated change of pace and with talks of a sequel, fans can be delighted with this take of Spider lore.
In conclusion, this is definitely Marvel’s best-animated movie, with the only drawback being the emphasis on certain Spider persons over others. Given there may be further installments down the line, this does not lessen the enjoyment of the film one bit.