Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man movie to-date and won’t easily be dethroned. Excuse my hyperbole but – wait. Actually? Don’t excuse anything. Sony Pictures Animation, Lord Miller and Marvel team-up to redefine how audiences experience superhero cinema. Miles Morales’ introduction to Spider-Man’s movie canon stands as one of 2018’s must-see theatrical events, exploding off the screen with vivid characters, breakneck action and magnetic charms. As Peter Parker preaches, all life takes is a leap of faith – and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse will be there to catch you in its web.
Despite how this is Miles Morales’ origin story (voiced by Shameik Moore), Spider-Man’s “Spider-Verse” sucks five other alternate-dimension “Amazings” into Miles’ world. Midlife crisis Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy as Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), grayscale Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Anime schoolgirl Peni Parker in her SP//dr suit (Kimiko Glenn), and even oinker Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) find themselves on present-day Earth. It’s Kingpin’s (Liev Schreiber) doing – his super particle collider to be exact – and he’ll stop at nothing until there’s a black hole under Brooklyn. It’s up to the Spider-Crew to stop Kingpin (and his henchmen) and find their separate ways home before inter-dimensional travel disintegrates their atoms for good.
Oh, did I mention it’s also Miles’ first week on the job and he’s nowhere near ready? Enter divorced, pizza-chomping Peter – a shell of the spry 11-years-in Peter who once stole America’s heart.
Miles Morales’ story is one of an outcast. A public school wiz now enrolled in some fancy “Visions” institute where being “gifted” is the norm (encouraged by Brian Tyree Henry’s NYPD father). Splice that with accepting responsibility as New York City’s friendly neighborhood superhero, and Phil Lord/Rodney Rothman’s screenplay builds an iron-hearted, wit-frenzied, depth-mining beginning worth its emotional payoff. Each Spider-Man variety – at some point – repeats how they’re the *only* one, but how wrong even masked saviors can be. No matter how outrageous or personal our fears or anxieties or trials become, someone’s out there who understands. No one’s alone, nor has to be, even when bioengineered arachnid DNA is involved.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse should embarrass dull CGI expectancies as in Avengers: Infinity War while blushing at its mirror image. Comic book cinematography has never burst with more exquisite detail or pristine pixelation. We’re talking cell shading down to circular pop-art dots, colorized flawlessly as if moving comic book pages have gone four-dimensional. Miles’ thoughts appear as narration boxes, yet he’s completely aware; even the slightest office door shutting brings a little “thud” to the screen. As meticulous it is impossibly jaw-dropping to behold. Plain and simple, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse animates an impossibly stunning superhero masterwork fit for a Louvre installment.
As for the Kingpin versus Spider-Team’s multidimensional glitch-clash finale? Randomized artwork styles from every Spider-Verse vie for background domination, scored beats punch and kick along with heroes, skyline architecture hurdles through time and space – it’s next level stuff. Were comic book movies of lesser personality just ruined forever?
Most admirable is how Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse holds back not an ounce of attitude. Spider-Ham commits to Looney Tunes yucks as emphatically as Spider-Man Noir attempts to comprehend a Rubik’s Cube’s bright boxes. Animation allows these characters to illustrate their universal signatures while still coexisting under the same Spider-Cave roof in Aunt May’s (Lily Tomlin) backyard.
Mulaney’s a perfect Porky knockoff, Cage’s raspy detective’s arc is a must, Johnson’s sweatpants Spider-Man is the epitome of “eats burgers for breakfast” – all oddballs tied together by meta-meme references and Spider-fan callbacks. From Spider-Man 3’s emo phase to ice cream truck Spider-popsicles. The Spider-Man desk meme to every costume ever doodled between Marvel pages. Viewer attentiveness and Spider-knowledge of any level will be paid-in-full by quality filmmaking, but the more entangled in Spidey’s history you are, the more rewarding your experience.
Don’t think Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse faceplants on the action front, either (except while Miles trains). Kingpin’s hammer fists pound Spider-faces while his gang of thugs (not listed on IMDB, so we’ll save spoilers) engages in tag-team warfare. The sheer agility of fight choreography whether trapped inside Aunt May’s Queens living room or New York City’s moonlight alleyways keeps excitement at max-throttle. Web-slinger travel conveys the rush of commuting by silk threads while brawls get furious and smashy (Peni, for instance, staring down a muscly bad guy from inside her robot’s fractured pod). Computer graphics capture Gwen’s ballerina-like acrobatic flow and Miles’ slingshot-catapult propulsion in a way live-action can’t. This is the future – nay, new present – of caped-crusader franchise establishment.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a celebration of limitless creativity that honors comic book runs of the same freeing mentality. The importance of Miles Morales’ spray painted suit is never lost – it’s the film’s catalyst arc at all times – but that doesn’t mean Spider-Man’s sense of fun is zapped away. From a “called it” bagel distraction to countless in-movie acknowledgments (including Peter Parker’s re-assessment of gender bias) – much like Teen Titans Go! To The Movies earlier this year – this is the leap of faith every fan needs to take. It’s like rediscovering superhero cinema for the first time all over again. An accomplishment that cannot be understated, talking red-and-blue spandex pig and all.
Get ready for the "Spider-Verse" to become your new favorite superhero universe, where porkers can be heroes and a leap of faith grants you access to one of 2018's most memorable theatrical experiences.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Review