Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2018
It’s been a long year and while I have been to the movie theaters a few times to see movies that I would have normally reviewed for this site, only the first couple actually worked out that way. But I had heard such great things about this movie that I just had to see it. And everything I heard was true and more. The visual style of this film is gorgeous and unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before. The sheer amount of Easter Eggs and references that only a major comic book nerd could fully catch was astounding, and the way it opened up the Spider-Verse to someone only knowledgeable via movies and TV series was fantastic. And to top it all off, it had a great story, great action, hilarious comedy, and fully formed characters with interesting and believable choices. Just a great way to round out 2018. And since this is a very recent movie, I always discuss the movie in full so this is your spoiler warning.
One of the most striking things about this movie is the visual style of it. Not since the LEGO movie has CGI really done something different and unique to its look. It’s a version of cell shading that gives the characters a 3D look, but also has the sharp black lines and the colors have a subtle circle pattern that calls up the classic 4 color process used by older comics. There’s also touches of the visual onomatopoeia that ranges from a subtle flick to something that takes up a larger part of the screen but always fits with what’s going on within the narrative. On top of that, when we get to the multiple universes, the characters from those universes also have their own individual style that is separate from the rest of the movie, but not in a completely jarring way like Spider-Man Noir is in black and white and Peni Parker has a much more anime feel to her.
One of the great things and has been a great year+ for Black superhero movies. Even though Vixen the Movie was a little under the radar for most people, Black Panther was a huge and critically successful movie, and while this movie wasn’t quite as huge as Black Panther, it still opened with $35 million which is actually the best opening for an animated movie in December. And while most people not in the know think of Miles Morales as a Black protagonist, he’s actually both Black and Puerto Rican. And besides that, two of the five Spider-People are women and they are just as capable as the Spider-Men of the group.
The actual plot of the movie is a mix between an origin story and one of the best versions of a multiverse story. Really the best part is the mixing and matching of the different Spider-verses. While most people with limited comics knowledge will likely know the Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, which is pretty much the story of the two Peter Parkers represented here, those with a little more knowledge will likely know about Miles Morales as well as the recent and fairly popular Spider-Gwen. But the film takes the multiverse concept to its extreme as it introduces three more completely absurd Spider-People when compared to the typical superhero movies.
But there’s also an origin story and it is handled quite well as it sets up Miles Morales as a very likable kid in over his head. He’s smart, but he’s also street smart. He gets the spider-bite and freaks out just like anyone would but he also gets not one, but two character defining moments early on in his career. He witnesses the death of his universe’s Peter Parker after making a promise to help him, and not much later in the movie he witnesses the death of his favorite Uncle shortly after finding out that his Uncle was a villainous henchman to the Kingpin who had also been trying to kill him. He has quite a few great character defining moments that shows his growth into a hero, the only downside is that his abilities don’t seem to develop on a curve, instead he has a revelatory moment and goes from being a very unsteady beginner hero to pretty much full-on Spider-Man instantly. But unlike other origin stories, this gets to have the origin story but also make fun of it as every Spider-Person gets their own mini origin intro as they are introduced.
The other character that has a surprising arc is the alternate universe Peter Parker. He’s basically the Tobey Maguire version of Spider-Man who continued to age in real time and is over 10 years out from the events of Spider-Man 3. He’s married, divorced, got a gut, and much more cynical over the years. He’s an interesting choice for the mentor character as it’s a character that most of the audience knows as an extremely positive person but his choices have weighed him down. It’s not until he spends time working with Miles and the other Spider-People that he regains his optimistic attitude and basically gets his hero mojo back.
This film was an absolute treat to watch. The action scenes were great, and while Kingpin himself looked a little out of place, he was more comics accurate as an absolutely massive presence. Even though it’s almost two hours, the film is very fast paced. Each Spider-Person has their own unique style of fighting from the anime hyperstyling of Peni, the Looney Tunes-esque absurdity of Spider-Ham, to the more subtle differences between Peter Parker more traditional webslinging and Miles Morales’s parkour influences in his travels. It really comes down to attention to detail, and it holds up in nearly every aspect of this film. From the backgrounds to the action to the characters to the humor. It’s the fact that Miles’s store bought Spider-Man costume still has the little price tag hanging off the back. It’s just such a well made movie and one of the best entries in the Spider-Verse. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.