(Originally written on December 15, 2018)
Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable comic book characters nowadays. His bright attitude and carrying the responsibility of having his powers is probably what people gravitate towards. In recent years, Tom Holland has made the role of Peter Parker his own (following in the footsteps of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield before him). However, what many moviegoers might not know is how Marvel comics actually introduced many characters with the same (or similar) powers as our favourite neighbourhood wall crawler over the years.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse introduces audiences to one of the more prominent spider-characters, Miles Morales. He isn’t quite Peter Parker but that’s what makes him fascinating, with a similar line in one of the trailers also mentioning this. While I only knew of Miles and other spider-characters tangentially, I could still follow everything that was happening. So how does the movie stack up?
The basic plot is how Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) has an immense device that is capable of tapping into parallel universes, but using it causes horrific damage to the city. Miles is in the wrong place at the wrong time, but is given a purpose by someone he never would have expected to meet. The rest of the film focuses on this journey but also on Miles’s growth as he learns through his circumstances how to carry the responsibility he gained. He is also encouraged and supported by the other spider-characters he encounters.
I think it’s spectacular how the film celebrates different types of animation, which is clearly evident in the different characters we meet (all who adopt different styles of animation). They are all colourful, both literally and metaphorically, with diverse personalities that somewhat compliment each other. It’s fair to say animation sometimes has advantages over live-action and Into The Spider-Verse makes full use of it. Characters aside, the film itself has a unique art style and effectively utilizes it to not only showcase how interestingly abstract it can be, but also to bring that comic book feel to it.
As for the storytelling, it’s amazing how the movie easily balances different tones. This isn’t just a movie for kids. While majority of it is funny and had me laughing out loud many times, there are also moments that go all in with tugging at your emotions. The film deals with themes relating to family, competency, identity and responsibility (the last one is a given, really). It should also be noted how it’s not only the heroes that evoke these themes, but also (to a lesser degree) its villains. Nearly every character is nuanced, and that makes for a more compelling story.
I ultimately don’t have that many gripes about Into The Spider-Verse except for how a number of people might not understand some references that are shown if they’re unfamiliar with all things Spider-Man. But aside from that, the film has great action, music, humour and some pathos. There is a short post-credit scene which is pretty funny, but even more so if you get what it’s referencing.
Overall, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is definitely worth watching. It manages to not only entertain newcomers, but also fans of the Spider-Man universe. I’m excited to see what other stories from the Spider-Verse we’ll get to see in the future.
- A. Shin