2018 was a good year to be Spider-Man. Heck, it was a good year to be a Spider-Anything! From Tom Holland’s short-lived stint in “Avengers: Infinity War” to the brand-new Spider-Man PlayStation4 game to the just-released trailer for “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” we have been seeing quite a lot of the masked web-slinger lately. But Peter Parker is not the only Spider to look out for. There’s a new kid on the block, and his name is Miles Morales. Spoiler alert: he rocks.
Colorful, explosive, and beautifully animated, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” introduces to the big screen not just Spider-Man’s neighborhood, but his multiverse. There are a staggering six Spider-Folks that share the screen, hailing from a host of different dimensions, including a black-and-white 30s-era detective, Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage); an anime-style cohort of Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and her spider-pal who battle in her father’s futuristic robot; a cartoonish anthropomorphic pig wielding a wooden mallet (John Mulaney); the nimble, ballet pointe-clad Spider-Woman, Gwen Stacey (Hailee Steinfeld); the cynical and aging Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson); and the naive but determined Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). Together, they must face the gargantuan — and I mean truly massive, practically two refrigerators in a bespoke suit — Kingpin (Liev Schrieber), who is aided by Dr. Olivia Octavius, a scientist with a sinister secret. Dr. Octavius’ particle collider, the very same one that brought Miles’ Spider-pals into his universe, threatens to tear Brooklyn apart, but is also the five Spiders’ only way home to their own dimensions.
To bring these characters to life, Spider-Verse combines its comic book origins with modern animation technology to create an entirely new aesthetic. The animation is striking, dizzying, vibrant, and demonstrates the sheer depth of care put into the film. To create the movie’s unique look required a complete overhaul of standard animating practices. Foregoing pre-programmed simulations for wind, hair, and the like, the directors challenged themselves and the animation team to create a movie that reinvented not only Spider-Man, but the entire production workflow. The result speaks for itself; there is something beautiful to find in every frame of the nearly two-hour film.
On top of the beautiful animation is a heartfelt story of Spider-Man, of friendship, of struggle, and ultimately, of perseverance. Spider-Man is the quintessential underdog tale; a teenager with a spider-bite suddenly must take on powerful villains and daunting situations, and yet still manages to crack a quip with every kick and punch. He stays upbeat despite the endless obstacles the universe tosses his way, including other universes. No matter how super he is, Spider-Man will always just be a guy in spandex, trying his best to do what is right.
When Miles is bitten, he gains amazing abilities — powers that most kids who grew up with comic books probably dreamed of at least once or twice. But he refuses to let this sudden development get to his head. In fact, his first instinct is to reject the onslaught of physical changes, which results in one of the film’s best sequences as Miles trips, slips, and sticks his way up and down the brick and glass facade of his middle school. Forced into this world of superhumans and, of course, supervillains, Miles is scared, confused, and utterly novice to everything demanded of him. But he refuses to give up, even when the odds tower above him. When he finally takes that leap of faith, Miles finds the strength within himself to do what must be done. And he has so much fun doing it! There is nothing more joyful than watching Miles flip and swing his way through the film’s final and most intense battle, a cavalcade of broken glass, shifting buildings, and showering sparks. With the help of his fellow Spiders, Miles pushes through a seemingly impossible situation to come out on top.
If you take nothing else away from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” heed this lesson: anybody can be a superhero. All it takes is the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can do it. Will you?
You would think combining all the Oreo flavors together would just make a mess, but it turns out that each flavor, tasty on its own, just enhances the other flavors. Spider-Verse combines the flavors of a half-dozen Spider-Characters and creates a deliciously colorful super-cookie. 5/5 bites of this Spider-Oreo. That’s the whole cookie, bucko! Yum yum!