REVIEW — “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
I’ve been a Spider-Man fan ever since I was a kid. For a good portion of my life, the only Spider-Man that held the mantle was Peter Parker – and I was completely fine with that. In my humble opinion, Peter Parker never needs to be revitalized or become darker or more modern – he’s universally relatable because even when he’s Spider-Man, his humanity still shines brightly through the suit. Peter Parker is the embodiment of how a truly normal, everyday person can become something more and just simply do the right thing when given the opportunity. One of my favorite aspects of Into the Spider-Verse is expanding the message that truly anyone can be Spider-Man; it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, what your gender is, what dimension you’re from, or if you’re literally a talking pig – this film speaks the message that we all have the capacity for Spider-Man’s heroism inside of us.
The film follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) In his dimension, Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for many, many years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. After a run in with a radioactive spider and an incident involving a device designed by Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) to merge different dimensions, multiple spider-people come into Miles’ reality just as he’s beginning to gain powers of his own. His mentor of sorts is a sluggish, fatter Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) from his own dimension. Also tagging along are the likes of Spider-Gwen/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), Peter Porker/Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) – all of which serve a uniqueness and personal story of their own. Together, they have to stop Kingpin from successfully merging the different dimensions and get back to their own timelines before it’s too late.
In typical Spider-Man fashion, Miles Morales has a complicated personal life aside from his Spider-Man persona. He feels stuck between two different paths – his love for art and graffiti often clashes with being more straight-laced and book smart for his parents sake. His Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) encourages him to often let loose and be himself, while his father (Brian Tyree Henry) is always trying to make him live up to his full potential and maintain a strict schedule and way of life. On top of all this, he’s attending a new boarding school and isn’t exactly fitting in well. Did I mention he was also bitten by a radioactive spider? Needless to say, Miles has a lot on his plate – and for a film that’s only 110 minutes, it could have easily turned into a giant, bloated mess with all the inter-dimensional non-sense on display. Somehow, the film just simply makes every single thing work. It’s an astounding feat that this film is even a little bit narratively coherent, and it’s even more astounding that it’s such an amazing film.
Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best Spider-Man stories ever told – not only because it’s one of the most original and groundbreaking, but because it also stays true to the core concept and heart of Spider-Man while breaking all these new grounds. With some of the most stunning animation I’ve ever seen in my life, a lovable array of characters, a large amount of heart, and a resounding message about heroism and being yourself – Into the Spider-Verse is not only the best animated film of the year, but also one of the best films of the year. Period. I’ll watch any sequel or spin-off they decide to make from this. I’m hooked.