Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Release date: December 14, 2018 (USA)
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Screenplay by: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber.
The hype is real! Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is indeed one of the best superhero movies and one of the best animated movies of the year. It better get lots of nominations and awards!
The film may be about the Spider-Verse, but it centers around Miles Morales, a young teenager who also gets bitten with a radioactive spider (but a different one) and takes after the mantle of Spider-Man after his universe’s Spider-Man meets a terrible end. Now he has the stop a dangerous macguffin machine that could destroy the multiverse. But Miles won’t have to do it alone, all the Spider-People who came from different universes via said dangerous macguffin machine will lend a hand.
The filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller produced this movie, with Lord also writing the screenplay, and it’s no wonder that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is one of the most visually creative animated movies of the latest years, since they were in charge of films like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie. And this film is by itself a great argument about why we need more big screen animated superhero movies. All the designs, angles, comic book effects, and range of movement were so imaginative and perfect for animation that I can’t believe Sony Picture Animations also made The Emoji Movie.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse also has in common with The Lego Batman Movie (another Miller & Lord production) with its use of obscure comicbook references for fans, and also as a critique of the whole Spider-Man mythos and persona.
The character designs were magnificent. Specially the bad guys’, with latino cyborg Scorpion, huge demon Green Goblin, larger than life and built like a literal wall Kingpin, and truly menacing Prowler with the best leitmotiv. Also, great surprise with Doctor Octopus’ looks! Tombstone was the one who got the short-stick since he just had the look of a albino bodyguard/hitman.
But of course the Spider-People were amazing too, and I was glad that as cool-looking and varied the villains looked, the Spider-People were the ones who carried the film. We had Spider-People for all tastes: there’s the Peter Parker of Miles Morales’ universe, who was the Spider-Man who made all the right choices, is loved by all of New York, and even had a great support group, married to the love of his life Mary Jane, and with a kick-ass Aunt May acting as her Alfred. And still, so damn tired of shouldering the responsibility. Then we have Peter B. Parker as a washed-up hero, who let himself go after not-so-great life choices, and ended up mentoring Miles Morales. They were not each other’s first choices, but it was what they got and they are going to make it work to the point they start caring for each other and changing for the better. There’s also Spider-Gwen, who is very capable and competent but also very closed off to new relationships because of her inability to move on from her tragedy.
Then there’s the outliers like Spider-Man Noir, a monochromatic Peter Parker from a 1930s universe who’s both dark and intense, but also funny with his anachronistics words and inability to understand a Rubik’s Cube. There’s the anime child genius Penni Parker who co-pilots the mecha SP//dr with a radioactive spider that she shares a link with. And then there’s Spider-Ham, the one who, if not integrated well to the story, could make it all look ridiculous since he’s a talking animal from a cartoon universe, which includes all the weird cartoon physics. And yes, Peter Porker managed to have a poignant moment too.
And rounding it up we had Miles Morales, a young afrolatino from Brooklyn with both loving parents alive with respectable jobs, who transferrs to a better school and yet he’s not sure about his future. He also has an excelent relationship with his uncle Aaron Davis, the one adult he fully trusts to understand him. That is, until the whole Spider-Man thing kickstarts!
All in all, there wasn’t a dull moment through all the movie’s runtime, and even the slower and quiet ones were brimming of character development. Specially those between Miles Morales and his family, and Peter B. Parker.
I must also give credit to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse for giving us the most poignant Stan Lee cameo of the all. It was perfect goodbye to this man, so important to the comicbook world and to Spider-Man in particular, even if we know he will appear in other Marvel movies yet. He was not only talking to Miles Morales in a moment of need, but also to us. And of course the scene ended with a joke, that somehow didn’t diminish his message nor the feelings it managed to convey to us.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is an amazing movie and everyone who loves animation, super-heros or just plain good movies, should go watch it. Also, get the soundtrack, the score, and even get A Very Spidey Christmas!
P.S.: There’s an post-credits scene that is both hilarious and a promise for more.