Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse


Matthew Deckers, Entertainment Analyst

As a fan of superhero movies, I have to admit that the market is way too oversaturated in this current age. Every year we get at least five of these movies, each one following a tiresome formula that audiences have seen for years (minus the few exceptions we see from time-to-time). Seven of these superhero movies are exclusively about Spider-Man, which is a quite a lot of screen time for one character. But in a surprising turn of events, the newest film about the famous web-slinger, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, rises above and beyond expectations and is one of the most memorable, funny, unique, and emotional titles in this genre.

The film follows Miles Morales, a New York teen who struggles with his social life at a new boarding school. His whole world suddenly changes when he gets bitten by a radioactive spider in a subway, which suddenly gives him mysterious powers that transform him into Spider-Man. However, as he soon discovers, he is not the only one to wear the mask. Our protagonist comes face-to-face with a machine built by Wilson Fisk (nicknamed Kingpin), which opens up portals to other universes. This introduces Miles to a variety of characters who share the same web-slinging abilities, such as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, but also puts New York in risk of being destroyed. Miles must take a leap of faith into truly becoming Spider-Man in order to help his friends shut down Kingpin’s machine and bring them back to their original universes.

Into the Spider-Verse’s plot is incredibly charming and well-written. There are countless hilarious interactions between Miles and his friends or even just people in the background, consistently making me laugh throughout the runtime. Some of my favorite character moments in the film are the short little origin stories they have for each new Spider-person, which give these characters some much needed depth and provide plenty of laughs along the way. Spider-Man Noir, the gritty black- and-white detective version of Spidey voiced by Nic Cage, is one of the funniest performances I’ve seen all year, especially when other ridiculous characters like Peter Porker (a cartoony Spider-Pig) play off of him. The chemistry between the lead roles (Miles, Gwen Stacy, and Peter Parker) is especially charming and makes you root for them even more.

Despite this, the narrative doesn’t shy away from providing serious or dark moments. The villains are intimidating and pose actual threats to the heroes, leading to plenty of tense moments with Kingpin and the Prowler. There are plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming and play a huge impact on the narrative and character interactions (which I won’t spoil here). The film does an excellent job at making the audience genuinely feel for these characters and even relate to their struggles, because this movie has legitimate consequences for factors like character death (something most superhero movies tend to overlook). One of the strongest aspects of Into the Spider-Verse is that it understands what it really means to be Spider-Man and the struggles that come along with it, making this movie one of the most impactful superhero stories in years that will leave you nothing but inspired when the credits roll. One minor issue with the script, however, is Kingpin’s character. We are given a bit of his backstory and can understand his motivation, but he isn’t as well written as the rest of the cast (including the other villains) and mostly just serves as a typical big bad guy. I see why they did this, since the film is about Miles and his Spider-friends and already does a great job with them, but a stronger villain could have made interactions with him that much more intimidating. Even still, Into the Spider-Verse packs an incredibly memorable story with wonderful characters and great dialogue.

The animation in this movie might be the best I’ve ever seen, and that’s including all of Pixar’s work. It might take viewers a few minutes to get used to the unique presentation, but when I finally did I fell in love with it. The animation team took huge risks and poured their hearts into making this movie look like a moving, three-dimensional comic book, and their efforts more than payed off. The visuals are incredibly stylistic, flashy, and drop-dead gorgeous all throughout, filling the screen with a plethora of bright, vibrant colors and unforgettable shots. The character designs express so much just through their facial expressions, especially with how the eyes on the Spider-Man suits move and react. There are plenty of nods to comic books shown in the visuals as well, thought bubbles and other words popping up on screen, multiple scenes animated entirely in 2D, and various shots switching from 3D to 2D. The animation elevates the actions scenes, which are all unique visual spectacles. Each action scene takes place in a brand new location, has a distinct style, and showcases detailed character movements and choreography that couldn’t be showed proper justice if this film was live-action. Though all of it is great, everything in the third act will go down as some of the best looking and most impressive action sequences in film history. This animation is truly groundbreaking, and it’s absolutely up there with the best looking films of all time (including live-action movies).
The soundtrack is yet another wonderful aspect of Into the Spider-Verse. The original score is exhilarating and makes the important scenes even more impactful, another thing that most modern superhero movies have forgotten. The music used before and during action sequences increases the tension and emotional impact. There is one particular scene with the Prowler that showcases this brilliantly, and even though I won’t spoil it here you will know it when you see it. The original song by Post Malone and Swae Lee, called “Sunflower”, is also surprisingly good when you listen to it again after watching the film. It captures the spirit of the film perfectly and is also really relaxing. I’ve listened to it a number of times, and after each listen I want to watch the movie again.

I’m in awe that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is as good as it is. Not only has it revitalized an oversaturated superhero genre, it’s also opened a gateway for new ideas in the animation industry. If this is Sony Pictures Animation’s apology for last year’s disaster called The Emoji Movie, then they are completely forgiven. I adored the unique characters, inspiring story, fantastic writing, wonderful soundtrack, and especially the animation. Each of these elements turn this into probably my third favorite superhero movie of all time. It should be no surprise that this is a strong recommendation, so go see this as soon as you can.

Final Review: 9/10