You know that feeling when you walk out of a movie knowing you have witnessed something special, something you have never seen before. That’s the feeling you get walking out of Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. Even though it’s based off a comic book and this character has been done six times before and we know the basic story of Spider-Man, the people behind this movie found a way to make it fresh and have produced not only the best animated movie this year, but hands down one of the best movies of 2018.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse centers around Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), aka Spider-Man. In Miles’ dimension Peter Parker (Chris Pine) is a hero to the people of New York, stopping crime at every corner and doing it with grace. That is until Parker has a run in with Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) and his gang of other notable Spider-Man villains including Green Goblin and The Prowler. They have built a device which causes dimensions to collide in an attempt to bring back Fisk’s wife and son who where killed. In the exchange, Peter Parker is killed, yes killed in an animated PG movie, leaving Miles the one and only Spider-Man – so he thinks. Of course as the promotional material has shown us, several dimensions collide bringing with them other Spider-people with them. We have Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Gleen), and Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) – but from a different dimension. It is up to the 6 of them to come together and defeat Fisk in order to return to their respective worlds.
This movie probably could not have come out at a better time, due to the tragic death of Stan Lee, as it shows the true power of comic books and why people love this character. While yes, on the surface this movie is a standard comic book movie pitting good against evil, heroes against villains, it is so much more than that. This character of Miles Morales is so pure and so easy to connect with. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he loves his family, he wants to make them proud, and he is just kind at heart. Honestly it was a nice change of pace seeing this familial interaction and not one having to do with Aunt May and Uncle Ben. This interpretation of Spider-Man also comes with a bit of a different message, although the presence of “with great power comes great responsibility” is still felt, here we get to see someone figure out that they have the ability to become something great and that you are never alone.
This is beautifully done through the brilliant use of all the other characters. Yes, some are used for more comedic purposes and some of the villains just show up, but they are not the main focus. However, all the characters fit, they all have their moments, and it works seamlessly to help tell Miles’ story. Each of the different Spider-people/animal have their own problem, their own origin story, and so do we as individuals – we all have different paths, which is why it is so easy to relate to this story. Sometimes it can feel very lonely out there, as Miles feels as his relationship with his family begins to dwindle as the piling amount of pressure he has to be a worthy Spider-Man builds. But it is through those same worries in which he finds the power to become who he was meant to be. This story has attempted to be shown in other Spider-Man movies as well, some being more successful than others, but the way it was told in this movie has been the most effective. We get to see a young, half black half Latino kid, dropped to this position where he must learn to face this massive challenge, with some pretty great people to help him along the way.
Not only is Into the Spider-Verse a beautiful story, the technical aspects on display here are some of the greatest ever in animation. This is probably what people felt like watching Toy Story for the first time seeing all those 3D animations, but in animation today all we really see is polished, hyper realistic worlds. It is a wonderful change of pace to see such a unique approach to animation, and it works so well with this story. This could never be reproduced into life action ever, it could only have been done this way.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has come along and made itself known as one of the best movies of 2018, and should be leading the charge at the Oscars for best animated feature. Its a universal story that can be loved by everyone, filled with beautifully touching moments for both comic book and non-comic book fans alike, great laughs, and some pretty great music. This movie really showcases what minds like Steve Ditko and Stan Lee saw in these characters and what they wanted to express; a mask is a mask, but what really matters is who is underneath it – and that could be anyone.
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney