A LONG time ago, there was an online campaign to have Donald Glover be the next live-action Spider-Man after Tobey Maguire. Of course, that didn’t happen as Andrew Garfield was casted as the character for The Amazing Spider-Man. Still, that campaign, alongside then-President Barack Obama, has inspired comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pinchelli to create Miles Morales. Backstory: Marvel has an imprint called the Ultimate Universe, which was a modern reimagining of the main Marvel Universe. In that universe, Peter Parker died while fighting the Sinister Six and in his place came Miles Morales, a black Puerto-Rican teenager with all of the same abilities, plus more. This character has become one of the most popular incarnations of Spider-Man who isn’t Peter Parker and he’s one of my favorites. I would have loved to see this character adapted to live-action. But I’ll settle with the film I’m going to review, which comes from Sony Pictures Animation, the same studio behind…
Anyways, this is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
Miles Morales is a teenager living in Brooklyn when suddenly, he’s bitten by a genetically modified spider that gives him abilities. A chance encounter with Spider-Man puts him on a path to being a hero and he must team up with other Spider characters from other dimensions to save his world. By this point, we’ve seen Peter Parker’s story told six times in cinema, so if they were going to do ANOTHER Spider-Man movie, a new perspective was needed, which makes sense to focus on Miles Morales. This film has accomplished the difficult accomplishment of telling Miles’ story while also balancing these other Spider people and a plot involving multiple dimensions. That’s a testament to how good the writing is. Speaking of the writing, you’ve got to hand it to Phil Lord, who helped write the screenplay alongside producing the film with Christopher Miller. The same self-referential humor that’s used in their other movies is present here with a lot of nods to the Spider-Man mythos kinda like Lego Batman. More on that later.
The star of the film is Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore. He has his own issues and responsibilities that differ from Peter, being overwhelmed by living up to his parents’ expectations and wanting to carve a path of his own. Then he gets bit by a spider and has to become the new Spider-Man in order to finish the mission of his dimension’s Peter Parker. Adding in that pressure are the other Spider people. This brings us to Peter Parker, voiced by Jake Johnson. From another universe, this is an older, more cynical Peter Parker who’s just been beaten down by life and I do mean beaten down. He becomes a reluctant mentor to Miles and I like how their relationship evolves throughout the film. Speaking of other Spiders, let’s go through them. There’s Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who was badass, there’s Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage) who’s this black-and-white noir version of Spider-Man who’s all dramatic, Peni Parker (Kiminko Glenn) who’s this kawaii anime girl who operates a mech, and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) who’s a cartoon pig. The other great relationships is the one Miles has with his father Jefferson Davis and his uncle Aaron Davis. Yo, the guys who voiced those two (Brian Tyree Henry and Mahershala Ali respectively) should do more voice acting because they were great. Jefferson is a police officer who cares about his son, but distrusts Spider-Man. Aaron is that uncle Miles visits every now and then who has a shady side to him, mainly that he’s the Prowler. There’s a scene where Aaron as the Prowler finds out that Miles is Spider-Man and it’s heartbreaking. Then, Aaron gets shot and before he dies, he apologizes to Miles, saying he let him down. This movie is heavy on the feels. As for villains, we have the Kingpin, voiced by Liev Schrieder. He’s built a Super Collider, which can access other dimensions, but could possibly damage the current universe they’re in. He’s doing all of this just to find alternate versions of his wife and son, who died in a car accident after seeing him fight Spider-Man. We also see alternate versions of the Green Goblin, Scorpion, and Doctor Octopus, the latter whose reveal caught me off-guard.
I love the animation style of this movie. We’ve seen films that takes scenes from comic books and recreate them in live-action. Into The Spider-Verse looks just like a comic book. It would have dialogue boxes, words popping up like a comic would, hell, there’s even comic book panels that are used to introduce the Spider characters. This animation enhances the action, which kicks all kinds of ass. I feel like the medium of animation is able to capture the world of comic books much better than anything live-action could ever do with the best CGI available. It’s also hilarious. Pretty much every joke lands and I was smiling from beginning to end. It utilizes that self-referential humor that I mentioned earlier in making references to many different versions of Spider-Man throughout media. There’s even a post-credits scene that involves Spider-Man 2099 and they did a reference to the following meme.
When that scene showed up, the whole audience lost it. It was worth sitting through the credits. With the humor, there’s also a lot of touching emotional moments, especially around Miles. You see his journey into becoming Spider-Man and it all culminates in the scene where he’s web-slinging through the city in the black and red suit. Bro, that scene gave me goosebumps. It was the most Spider-Man thing ever on-screen and the backing music for that scene was perfect. And while we’re on the topic of music, the score for this movie is excellent. They found a way to mix in contemporary music and especially hip-hop with the more traditional orchestral compositions that we’re used to hearing in movies and not have it sound forced. I’m not too crazy about some of the songs that are on the soundtrack; I still don’t like Sunflower even after it shows up in three scenes, Juice WRLD has a song that’s used for an emotional scene, and there’s even a song that features someone who I refuse to acknowledge. But the rest of the soundtrack is pretty solid, even if it’s no Black Panther. I especially like the two songs that were played during the credits, Home by Vince Staples and Elevate. Dude, Elevate is my shit. It gets me hyped every time I hear it and it was the perfect song to start the credits. One last thing I dig is its message. Yeah, it’s basically “anyone can be a hero,” a message that isn’t new, but this film executed that message perfectly. It also worked as a tribute to Stan Lee, who made a cameo appearance. I got a bit choked up when he was on-screen and his cameo was very fitting of the man.
I give Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse a perfect 10/10. This isn’t just my favorite animated movie of the year, but it’s the best Spider-Man movie period. Sorry, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man Homecoming. This movie is the ultimate love letter to Spider-Man, from the animation to the writing to the characters to the message behind it to even all of the references. It nails the character in the way that the live-action movies never could and solidified why Spidey’s my all-time favorite superhero. If Sony are going to keep making Spider-Man movies, I’d rather they do more of this and less Venom (which sadly made $850 million at the box office, so expect more of those future turds in the wind). Anyways, I HIGHLY recommend this movie to everyone, especially if you’re a Spider-Man fan or an animation fan. I hope it succeeds because we could use more animated movies that are unique like this, to break the monotony every now and then. I love this movie so much, I want to see it again and again.