Peter Parker. Bruce Wayne. Clark Kent. You know who these characters are. Spider-Man. Batman. Superman. These are three of the most popular characters of all time. Three character’s who have had many wear the mask, the cowl, the cape. While many would assume the comic-reading audience is large, it pales in comparison to those who have discovered these characters through other outlets. While Miles Morales, star of Into the Spider-Verse is one such character to take over the mantle of a legendary icon, many are being introduced to him now, a character who has been around since 2011.
Into the Spider-Verse is a retelling of the origins of Miles Morales, one of many Spider-bit heroes who call themselves Spider-Man. While the story here differs a little from how it actually went down, it takes the key moments of his story and ties them into the dimension hopping hi-jinks of the Spider-Verse storyline, only with far less death and a much smaller cast.
I’ll state this very plain; Into the Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man movie ever made. It is also a shame that this movie didn’t perform well. Sure, it got critical acclaim from everyone, even the likes of Katy Perry was singing its praises, but it was still seen to many as a cartoon; a genre mostly aimed at children. Regardless of its medium, Into the Spider-Verse is just as dark and emotional as any Spider-Man film before it, it just happens to have genuinely good humor and features a pig version of the webslinger called Spider-Ham. It’s ok, go with it.
Miles, an Afro-Latino teenager, is accidentally bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, one that gives him a slightly modified set of Spider-Man’s powers. The key differences are mostly shown as Miles’ ability to shock his foes with a stinging attack, and being able to turn invisible. When Miles is witness to a horrific murder at the hands of the Kingpin, he is thrown into the world of Spider-Man, or rather, Spider-Men, or rather, Spider-Persons? as he is joined by Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Noir, Peni Parker, and a version of Spider-Man from a different dimension. Each character is introduced in a rather effective way that gives you a condensed version of what you need to know about them. The ways in which Spider-Gwen is written into the film is some of the best moments in the movie and really makes me excited for whatever plans they have regarding her in the future films and potential spin-offs.
The first thing you will be introduced to is the animation style, as it is very unique and is often gorgeous in not just the colors and texture given to its characters and its world, but in the speed and the way it is animated. Sometimes it will be slower, as if the movie is having framerate problems, but it is intentional; this is a Comic Book movie, so it makes sense that much of the film is displayed this way. While some modern animated movies have silky smooth animations with perfect motion captured characters, Into the Spider-Verse is playing by its own rules and those rules are simply glorious.
The soundtrack is something else that is rock solid, featuring not just a Christmas album by your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but a slew of other catchy tunes. One song that has blown up due to the movie, and in fact, I’ve read it was created solely for the film, is “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee. Miles can’t seem to get the song out of his head and frankly, so will you. Another spot of music that is perfectly crafted is the music used whenever the Prowler is on screen. It is chilling and will get under your skin.
Into the Spider-Verse features an all-star cast that is, for the most part, amazing. Shameik Moore as Miles is impressive and gives him a voice that suits the character perfectly. Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy is equally great and has one of those voices that isn’t distracting you because you recognize it, as is what usually happens in an animated film. The rest of the film features fantastic voice-work from the following; Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry), Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), Mary Jane (Zoe Kravitz), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), and Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber).
Now, I’ve left a few voices out due to spoilers, but there is one last one to discuss, Jake Johnson as Peter Parker. When the film was first shown off, and he was announced as portraying the webslinger, I wasn’t terribly excited by the news. I didn’t think he had the voice that fit the character and in some ways, I still believe that. While he nails exactly what his character is designed to do, I still feel that another voice, that is present in the film, and attached to another version of Peter, would have suited him better.
Into the Spider-Verse has received, and is continuing to receive, a ton of praise for not only its animation, but with how genuine the movie is. This is a film that will have you laugh, cry, and have you leaving the theatre feeling like you’ve seen a truly remarkable film. Regardless of its medium, this is hands down the best Spider-Man film to ever grace the big screen, and it is a damn crime that some people will look at it as a mere “cartoon” when it is so much more than that. With a large emphasis on Miles and Gwen during the film, and its conclusion, these two characters, while are widely known to the Comic Book audience, and about to go big, and become more popular than ever. Into the Spider-Verse proves that anyone can wear the mask.