Release Date: December 14, 2018
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a refreshing take on a superhero that has been done so many times before. Spider-Man is no longer nerdy Peter Parker. He’s 13-year-old Miles Morales. He’s biracial, speaks Spanish, wears Jordans, and listens to Biggie. Miles is actually someone you would have wanted to be friends with in middle school. Like Peter Parker, he’s a smart kid. He has been accepted into a prep school but his real passion is art. Miles is a talented graffiti artist who spends his days tagging Brooklyn. Miles is clearly someone a new demographic of kids can relate to as Spider-Man. It works perfectly.
The story is like any other Spider-Man: Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider that turns him into Spider-Man overnight. The difference is he’s not the first Spider-Man as Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for years in Miles’ world. The villain is a comically gigantic 1,000-pound Kingpin who has a machine that opens portals to other universes. When opening these portals, Kingpin pulls other Spider-People into Miles’ universe making him one of five Spider-People.
These Spider-People include Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) or Spider-Woman; anime girl Peni Parker and her sidekick robot; black-and-white color blind Spider-Noir (Nicolaus Cage); and Spider-Ham, who is a spider pig (shout out The Simpsons movie). The first to arrive in Miles’ life, though, is Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), a washed up older Peter Parker. Peter B takes on the role of Miles’ Spider-Man mentor. He is depressed, divorced, living alone, and eating pizza wearing sweatpants before he is pulled into Miles’ universe. Parker is hilarious as the lazier version of the real overachieving Peter Parker, as he is always looking for his next meal and even takes the bus to get around rather than use his energy swinging by the buildings. Every character adds their own touch on the story without taking away from our main star in the making Miles Morales.
Visually the film is beautiful. The colors are vivid and pop off the screen in a dynamic way we haven’t seen in other animated films. Stylistically it feels as if we are watching a comic book. The screen splits in the same way as comic books in some of the action scenes. Weird grainy dots in the animation add to this style. The studio clearly took a huge risk going for this style rather than the safer Pixar Animation we’ve seen with movies like the Incredibles, and it paid off, making for a refreshing sharper look that we’re not used to seeing.
The film is also very self-aware. It pokes fun at some of the previous Spider-Man films before providing a few laughs at poor Uncle Ben’s expense. While I’ve seen some refer to this as the best Spider-Man film to date, I still have a spot reserved in my heart for 2004’s Spider-Man 2. That being said, it’s a close second. Where this film really stands apart from the rest is that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man really could be literally anyone and in this film it’s Miles Morals and Miles is cool.