By now, we’ve seen Spider-Man’s origin story on film multiple times. Like me, you probably feel that you don’t need to see it again. But trust me, you do — you really do.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the most colorful, fun, and emotional animated movie — or superhero movie, frankly — that I’ve seen in a long time. It truly is a fresh take on Spider-Man’s classic origin story and expands the superhero genre in an inventive and exciting way. If you’ve heard the hype, it’s not an exaggeration; this really is one of the best movies of the year.
When I saw the first trailer for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” I remember thinking, “Hmm, this looks interesting.” What caught my attention was the unique computer animation style. It’s a bit tough to describe, but it’s definitely colorful, vibrant, and highly stylized, with certain animations that really make you feel like you’re watching a movie based on a comic book. You see panels, like the ones found in the pages of a comic book, and thought bubbles even pop up from time to time.
I had a hard time deciding what to put in this review, because I believe the best way to experience this movie is to just walk into the theater and let yourself be surprised by this film. I didn’t know exactly what characters were going to show up or what the plot was going to be, and I just went along for the ride. There are moments where the screen is bursting with a sense of joy and wonder, and I don’t want to spoil that for someone who hasn’t seen it.
Although I haven’t read the original comics, I already knew a little about the origin of teenager Miles Morales, who takes up the mantle of “Spider-Man” after Peter Parker. I love how Morales has some of the same traits/struggles as Parker (he’s a teenager trying to fit in), but he also has a unique personality and outlook.
While the superhero genre is getting better in terms of including diversity, there’s still a ways to go. Our favorite geek films need to be as diverse as the real world we live in, and Miles Morales — who is half-Puerto Rican and half-African American — is another important step forward.
I also loved Miles’ dynamic with his family. Unlike many superheroes, both his parents are still alive. And like all teenagers, he’s going through some growing pains, and he’s trying to figure out what his relationship with his parents will look like in the future (especially now that he’s become the next Spider-Man).
There are really two plots going on at the same time in this film — Miles Morales’ origin and coming of age story, and then the break in reality caused by famous Marvel crime lord Kingpin that unleashes a multitude of “Spider-heroes” from alternate dimensions. This film could have easily become too chaotic and unfocused, but it doesn’t; these two plots blend seamlessly together and complement each other perfectly.
The film is funny, but it also manages to be emotionally authentic, which can be a tricky dynamic to pull off. I enjoyed all the teasing references to past Spider-Man films, as well as the jokes about how many different versions of Spider-Man there are onscreen. Thanks to the introduction of the Spider-Verse, we get to see some new takes on the Spider-Man character. My favorite was probably world-weary, washed up Spider-Man (voiced by Jake Johnson). Of course, you’ll probably guess long before the ending that he’s going to be shaken out of his apathy and show up to save the day, but the ending doesn’t feel cliche or forced.
I’m still mulling it over (and I’ve got a few more movies left to see in 2018), but “Into the Spider-Verse” may well be my favorite movie of the year. Even if you think you’re tired of superhero origin stories, go see it anyway. It’s a genuinely special film, and I can’t wait to see it again.