Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Review

Brimming with action, tension, and heart, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most authentically “comic book” superhero film released in years. It’s quirky, juvenile humor is counteracted by an underlying arc of maturity, and it somehow manages to make all that interesting to ten year olds. The gorgeous animation style aside, Into the Spider-Verse utilizes its sprawling cast to great effect, leaving no stone unturned and no hero unexplained. Each time a new Spider-Person enters the field, a comic of their origin story is laid down as they narrate their rise from tragedy to superhero-dom. It’s quick, flashy, and most of all, entertaining. Even the tender moments of the film are bursting with color, smart writing, and clever send-ups of the Spider-Man universe. This film focuses on the title character, rather than try to mine an ever-questionable rogues gallery, and succeeds for it. Miles Morales’ journey to grasp his power and role in his family is the greater story underlining the plot to destroy the world, itself a parody of the ridiculos stakes Spider-Man tends to face. His dorky father, loving mother, and compassionate friends are all standard superhero fodder, and Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t ignore that fact. It writes supporting characters as caricatures of stereotypes, or complete reinventions, like the bad-ass Aunt May who plays an Alfred role, add kicking in doors and behaving like someone out of a James Bond movie. There’s plenty more commentary on the superhero origin story, and the genre as a whole, but it never gets in the way of the story. Into the Spider-Verse has all the self awareness of a film like Deadpool, the difference being the story here is good enough to take center stage.

Miles Morales’ (Shameik Moore) meeting with alternate Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) plays off the master/apprentice dynamic, this time turning Peter into a washed up divorcee who doesn’t have much interest in returning to his dimension. They affect each other’s lives deeply, but unlike other superhero movies, it feels earned. Even with a moderate runtime and a full cast of characters, Into the Spider-Verse gives plenty of time to develop core relationships. Morales and his father, Parker and MJ: the moments involving these characters are often the most moving, simply because the film gives them time to form. There are no great moments when everything becomes clear to a character. Everyone is given the chance to fail and realize the error of their ways. The colorful animation style conveys this emotion just as well, looking at once modern and ageless, and straight out of a comic book. Interior monologues flash on screen, and the amount of love given to animating each Spider-Person’s unique art style is astonishing. It’s the rare movie that is completely of its time that will still look great in twenty years.

This is the Spider-Man film fans have been wanting since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2: a fun, carefree adventure. Marvel got close with Spider-Man: Homecoming, but Into the Spider-Verse is the realization of that dream.