Since 2007, there have been four Spider-Man movies—two of which were complete reboots— three different Peter Parkers, and a few appearances in other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Several different directors and production companies have attempted to do our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man justice, and apart from Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, they have not seen great critical or financial success. So after numerous failures and a spider-saturated decade, what does Sony do to alleviate our arachnid fatigue? Make an animated movie with six different Spider-people in it.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse offers a fresh take on the Spider-Man story. Rather than the typical adventures of Peter Parker, Spider-Verse presents the origin of young Miles Morales into his own style Spider-Man. After being bitten by a radioactive spider and developing his own powers, Miles discovers that he is not alone, as a inter-dimensional portal opened by the evil Kingpin releases a plethora of Spider-people into Brooklyn. In only a few days after their arrival, Miles must come to control his own emerging powers, return his spider-peers to their proper dimensions, and close the portal to save the entire space-time continuum.
From a plot standpoint, Spider-Verse does not stray too far from the typical origin-story path. Like any other coming-of-age Spider-Man story, Miles must overcome his fears and weaknesses to prove himself as a superhero in the face of constant adversity. While the overall structure of the film was quite run-of-the-mill, I thought it offered many interesting ideas and concepts I hadn’t yet seen in a superhero flick. I loved the inclusion of a tired, cynical, divorced Peter Parker, the unique solidarity found between the various Spider-heroes of each dimension, as well as Morales’ twist on the classic spider-origin tale.
Where Spider-Verse really shines is its style and tone. The incredibly unique visual presentation of the film left me in awe for two hours. Every shot bloomed with color, movement, action and character. The film even managed to make Miles walking down the street utterly entertaining.
The scenes seamlessly slid into one another as the characters swung, ran and snaked from set-piece to set-piece. When the greater action scenes came about, the film exploded into sweeping shots that would soar around the spider-team, each member getting their own spotlight as they pummeled Kingpin’s goons. The various spider-characters offered a unique animation style as well, from the anime-inspired SP//dr or the Loony Toons-esque Spider Ham. The little comic-book word boxes, transitions and sound effects brought tied this incredible style in a nice little cel-shaded bow. Spider-verse is nothing short of an animation marvel.
I would recommend Spider-Verse purely for its style alone. The animation presents nothing but 117 minutes of light-hearted visual and tonal fun. Sure, the story isn’t very original, but the presentation more than makes up for it. The movie was easily the most fun I had in theatres in 2018, and is in my opinion by far the best Spider-Man movie since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 back in 2004. If you have a chance, see it in theatres while you still can. It’s an experience that should not be missed.