Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse follows Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) as he struggles to fit in at his new boarding school in Brooklyn. After witnessing the death of Spider-Man at the hands of Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber), Miles decides to take up the hero’s mantle. In the meantime, he manages to run into Peter B. Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson), a more disheveled version of the titular hero from an alternate dimension. Together (along with Gwen Stacy), they must try to put an end to Kingpin’s plans to mess with the fabric of time and space itself.
Spider-Verse might be one of the biggest surprises of the year. Sony Pictures Animation doesn’t have the best track record, especially with last year’s Emoji Movie. It seemed like the movie appeared out of nowhere. In my opinion, it’s arguably the most pleasant surprise of the year.
The best thing about Spider-Verse is its script. There is some great character development within the movie. Throughout the film’s duration, for the sake of example, the audience gets to see Morales’ progression from a self-conscious teenager to an outright superhero. However, there are some bumps along the way since he is not accustomed to his new superpower. The film also has some great dialogue, especially between Peter B. Parker and Miles Morales. Spider-Verse’s dialogue is whip-smart and consistently funny from start to finish, just like the numerous incarnations of Spider-Man featured in the movie. Speaking of which…
Another great thing about this movie is its visual style. Throughout most of the movie, Spider-Verse manages to emulate the look and feel of a comic book, especially with its use of Ben-Day dots and narration boxes. In addition to that, the film’s style is also influenced by an urban hip-hop style (which is fitting since Miles Morales is an aspiring graffiti artist to the chagrin of his father). As a side note, the film manages to emulate a stop-motion animation style like 2014’s Lego Movie (which is fitting since Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were involved with the film’s production). Although Spider-Verse is presented as an animated comic book for most of its duration, various styles are represented by the numerous incarnations of Spider-Man, which include:
- Spider-Man Noir (voiced by Nicolas Cage), who came from an alternate universe in which he is a gumshoe detective from the 1930s. As his name would suggest, he is presented in a monochromatic manner (which also applies to his vision as he could only see in black and white).
- Peni Parker (voiced by Kimiko Glenn), who is a teen genius who came from a futuristic version of New York. Peni, who is accompanied by her robotic sidekick SP//dr, is presented in an anime style (complete with an intentionally bad overdub).
- Spider-Ham (voiced by John Mulaney), who is an anthropomorphic pig that is presented as a Looney Toons-esque cartoon character.
I may be nitpicking here, but I had a problem with Kingpin’s design in this movie. I’m aware that this character is constantly presented in a larger-than-life manner, but I felt that his design was at odds with the movie’s realistic setting. If it were an alternate version of Kingpin, I wouldn’t mind as much. On the other hand, that fact doesn’t stop Kingpin from being a well-developed villain.
In my opinion, Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man movie since 2004’s Spider-Man 2. As I have mentioned before, this film is a pleasant surprise. Spider-Verse has something for everybody with its action and comedy (as well as its drama). Every actor in this movie did a great job with their respective roles. Sony should have promoted this movie instead of Venom. Not only is it the best animated movie I’ve seen all year, it’s also the best superhero movie.