Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Explores Classic Hero Myth With Ultra Modern Pizazz

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If you cna't find a Spider-Man you like here, you should proably stick to those lame DC movies. In theatres everywhere 12/12/18.

Marvel superheroes are beloved around the world, but perhaps none is more beloved than Spider-Man. The character is far more intricate and interesting than most, coming from humble begins to experience personal tragedy that drives bookish Peter Parker to become one of the best superheroes his world—or any other—has ever seen. Sony’s new animated feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is remarkable not only for its technical prowess and excellent acting but for exploring the nuances of the hero archetype in ways both subtle and profound.

The story focuses on young Miles Morales, a boy who gains the powers of Spider-Man while creating “urban street art” with his favorite uncle. He soon witnesses the death of his universe’s Spider-Man, and his world explodes metaphorically and somewhat literally. The film explores his development as a fledgling superhero. It would be a disservice to say much more, but I can tell you that if you’re a casual fan of live or animated superhero films, or a diehard Marvel nut who can quote volume, issue, page number and panel as easily as reciting you’re A-B-Cs you should equally enjoy the diverse lineup of alternate universe Spider-Men in this movie. The cast of characters may seem unwieldy at the onset, but the story makes sense of it all quite easily.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) originated in the “Ultimate” universe as the second Spider-Man of his world (after Peter Parker, voiced by Chris Pine). His Spider-Man “instructor” is Peter B. Parker (an original idea, Peter as down and out and a bit overweight, voiced by Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) comes from Earth-65, where she received the Spider-Powers instead of Peter Parker, who died after turning himself into the Lizard. Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage, which is worth the price of admission alone) is from Earth-90214 which is perpetually black and white and stuck in the 1930s. Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) hails from the “Mangaverse” which is heavily influenced by Japanese comic book culture. Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (you read that correctly, and he’s voiced by John Mulaney) is a cartoony talking pig in a Spidey costume, originating from the cartoon-styled Earth-8311. My favorite version, Miguel O’Hara aka Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), comes from the “2099” version of Marvel (Earth-928) and shows up as a late cameo.

Incidentally, the “prime” Marvel Comic universe is commonly known as Earth-616, and the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe is known as Eath-199999 for those of you keeping score, and that includes the Marvel Studios films, Sony’s Spider-Man films and Marvel Television properties such as ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Hulu’s Runaways, Freeform’s new Cloak and Dagger and the recently cancelled line of Netflix shows such as Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Trust me, it’s not nearly as hard to keep track of as it sounds! Villains include The Kingpin (Liev “Hey, I used to be Sabertooth!” Schreiber), Scorpion (Joaquín Cosio), Olivia Octavius aka Doctor Octopus (Kathryn Hahn), Tombstone (Marvin Jones III) and The Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone). You better believe there’s an animated Stan Lee cameo, voiced by The Man himself prior to his recent passing.

There is an unfortunate tendency in the United States to view animated features as “children’s fare.” You’d think we’d learn after films like “Up!” and “Toy Story 3” had adults sobbing in their seats. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse likely won’t have grown men whimpering, but the story is rock solid and the visuals are a hypercolor feast for the eyes that will make it hard to go home and watch such comparatively crude renderings in popular TV animated programs like South Park, The Simpsons, and Rick and Morty. Stylistically, much of the film is in the comic art style of Miles Morales co-creator Sara Pichelli though each of the Spider-Heroes are given some time to represent the styles of their own comic book artistic origins.  The animation is silky smooth, and the soundtrack is quality hip-hop.

If you didn’t care much for Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, or Andrew Garfield’s follow-up version, perhaps the unique combination of hand illustrated style and slick computer graphic refinement will suit you better. Everyone in the cast has the trademark Spider-Man flair for witty banter down pat. Alas, if you were hoping for more Tom Holland web-slinging, well..”Snap!” You’re out of luck…until next year when Avengers: Endgame arrives, anyway. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits the big screen near you December 12, 2018.

5.0 / 5.0