SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Lily Tomlin, John Mulaney
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Written by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Based off of Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. With other characters Spider-Gwen by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez, Spider-Ham by Tom DeFalco and Mark Armstrong, Spider-Noir by Davine Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico and Peni Parker by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt
A review by Andrew Dmytrasz
This movie is phenomenal. Probably the best movie I have seen all year. This animated movie achieves things that most live action movies strive for but never fully accomplish.
We start off with a super brief summary of Spider-Man (Peter Parker). We witness how he got his powers through a bite from a radioactive spider. Then, we see how he uses his powers to save people, has his own comics, cereal, movies (and make reference to the third Spider-Man movie where he dances in the street and how they don’t talk about that) and even popsicle. Spider-Man has been protecting his city for the past ten years. he knows what he is doing and is enjoying his fame and protecting his city. We then get introduced to Miles Morales, a high school student who is starting at a new school. While the movie is heavily centered around the different Spider people (and animal), it’s centered around Miles and his story.
Visually, this movie is wonderful because we start in this dot matrix type of animation style that is reminiscent of the old style comic books. As we get introduced to the rest of the Spider people, their own animation styles come into the movie. We see them added into the current one (ex. Spider-Ham is very cartoony with a giant wooden mallet or an anvil. Or Peni Parker is very much done in an anime style) which just provides a stunning visual effect.
The text boxes or panels that appear after Miles gets his powers is nicely done. It adds to that old comic book style and if seen in 3D gives a nice depth of field. Combining all these different visuals and animation styles was no easy feat but adds a nice layer because you get the feeling of all these dimensions crossing over because of it as opposed to all of them adopting the current dimensions animation style.
FROM COMICS TO SCREEN / MEETING THE SPIDERS
In the comics, Miles Morales becomes the new Spider-Man after the current/original (Peter Parker) one dies. It’s something I knew beforehand, but not something I was emotionally prepared for. Knowing about it and seeing it on the big screen are two different things. When you see your childhood hero die on the big screen, seeing the funeral, and the amount of support the city has for MJ and Aunt May, that hits you right in the emotions.
What made the emotional impact so much more powerful was that Miles was buying a Spider-Man costume from a store to attend the public funeral and that was Stan Lee’s cameo as the store owner. This is Stan Lee’s first cameo since his passing. It was another I knew going into the movie that he was going to be in it as a cameo. Again, I was not emotionally prepared for it to see it on the big screen. In a way, it kind of felt it was his funeral too. Of course, they didn’t know that Stan Lee would pass away.
Miles goes to Peter Parker’s grave to pay his respects. This is when we get introduced to the first of the different Spider people. We meet Peter B. Parker and get the same brief summary about him as the other Peter Parker. Peter B. Parker has been the Spider-Man of his universe for the past 26 years and has been through a lot more, including a failed restaurant, and separated from MJ because Peter didn’t want kids. You get the sense he lost a bit of faith, and motivation in himself. He has been Spider-Man for so long that he just seems over everything and just wants a break from being Spider-Man.
Through a series of events, Miles and Peter B. Parker meet and join up with the other Spider-people, which includes Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker. For each of them, we get a super brief summary of how they became their dimensions version of Spider-Man and a little about their lives. Let’s talk a little bit more about the spiders we see in the film.
Ghost Spider or Spider-Gwen is probably the most popular out of the other Spider people. Debuting in Edge of Spider-Verse (2014) #2, she is one of the most recent Spider People. Gwen Stacey (of Earth-65) is the daughter of NYPD Captain George Stacy and as some may recall is the love interest of the Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies. Spider-Gwen is driven to help those in need after witnessing her neighbor and close friend Peter Parker die. To read more about Spider-Gwen, check out this link.
The second most recent Spider person on the team is Peni Parker and her robot companion SP//dr (of Earth-14512). Like all the other Spider-people, she was bitten by a radioactive spider, but unlike all the others, she befriends that spider, and it helps power her robotic suit. Peni Parker made her comics debut in EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE (2014) #5. Read more about Peni Parker here.
Next on the team is Spider-Man Noir who made his debut in SPIDER-MAN NOIR (2008) #1. This Spider-Man is from the year 1933 (of Earth-90214) and is a private detective who uses his spider powers to help solve his cases and prevent crime. This version did not get his powers from a radioactive spider, but rather from an African statue that broke open with a small army of mystical spiders, one of which bit Peter Parker. To find out more about Spider-Man Noir.
The last team member is in fact far older than you might have thought. Spider-Ham actually debuted back in 1983 with THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-HAM (1983) #1 (of Larval Earth). Spider-Ham was actually a spider before he got bitten by irradiated basement scientist – and pig, May Porker. In that first appearance, he teamed up with Captain Americat, and accidentally helped create Hulk-Bunny. Can read more about Spider-Ham here.
With all this being said, I love the super brief summary they give, just a bit of background information, so we know more about them, but brief enough to not distract from the movie. This isn’t an origin movie for each of them. It is about Miles becoming the new Spider-Man. They all team up to take down Kingpin and prevent all the dimensions from coming together and Miles finds himself and his version of Spider-Man along the way.
When Miles Morales needs to write a personal essay about himself and what he wants out of life, one of the books his teacher gives him to help him write it is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The book in itself is a story of personal growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. Miles uses this as inspiration to define himself and who he is. Miles expresses himself through his graffiti and art. This helps to define himself and his version of Spider-Man that will become the city’s new Spider-Man.
It’s not easy taking up that title. It’s not easy replacing someone who has meant so much to a lot of people in the city, and who they depended on. Not everyone liked the former Spider-Man, even Miles’s dad spoke out about how he didn’t like Spider-Man. Now, Miles is going to have to face those same challenges while living in the former Spider-Man’s shadow. People are going to be comparing him. They’re going to say that the other one was better and that he doesn’t know what he is doing. But he is going to be Spider-Man anyways. Why? Because people will always need help and Spider-Man will always help out those in need. That’s just who Spider-Man is, no matter what universe or dimension they are from.
While not everyone lives in Brooklyn, New York or can relate to what that is like, there are other things people can relate to. We can relate to moving to a new school where no one knows you. It’s relatable in trying to find yourself and your identity, trying to make your parents happy while living your own life. We have those feelings of being an outsider and not having anyone to turn to for support, and finally finding someone and not feeling so alone anymore. Not wanting to do something because it’s scary but finding the courage to do it anyway. Losing your motivation for something and being stuck in a rut, wanting to get a second chance at something, risking everything to do what you believe is right.
All of which are found in this movie. Other movies might only touch on one or two of these things, this movie touches on all of these and does it beautifully.
Miles feels alone after he had the opportunity to save his uncle but didn’t. We think we are alone, but it’s only after we open up we discover that we are not that alone. The other Spider people open up about the people they have lost and how that has helped shape them. “Miles, we are probably the only people who do understand.”
I absolutely loved the Kingpin in this movie. I thought his physique was abnormally large (about the same size as a car). Other than that, I loved everything about him. We had a single flashback that shows his motives and plan. That’s all we get. No big monologue or anything drawn out. We know his motive and plan, he goes after it, cuts out anyone that gets in his way. A straightforward villain is super refreshing.
The side villains were great as well. We had the Green Goblin, but as a monster and not a person in a costume. Olivia Octavius as Doc Ock, Tombstone (although pretty sure then never refer to him by name) Scorpion, but Spanish and mechanical legs and not in a suit like the 90’s animated show and the Prowler. The main motive of Kingpin is relatable. Having loss someone and doing anything you could to try and get them back or get a second chance at something.
VERDICT: WATCH IT! I could go on and on about everything I loved about this movie and what it did well, but I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. If you had plans tonight or this week, cancel them and go see this movie. Visually this movie is a delight for the eyes. Story-wise, it is a roller coaster of emotions with drama, comedy, action, everything you were hoping for to get from this movie.
POST CREDIT SCENES:
There are two post-credit scenes in this movie. The first one is a touching tribute to both Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Both passed away this year and both were fundamental in establishing Marvel in its early days. We get a quote from Stan Lee with his famous glasses in the bottom right corner.
“That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” – Stan Lee
“Thanks to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, for showing us we’re not the only ones.”
In a movie about feeling alone, and feeling like there is no one else out there that gets you or understands what you are going through, it’s nice to know that there are others out there.
The second post credit scene we get is of Lyla, the holographic assistant to Miguel O’Hara, better known as Spider-Man 2099. Lyla informs Miguel about what has happened with the various dimensions crossing over and almost colliding. He then travels to 1967 with the first animated Spider-Man cartoon and confronts this original Spider-Man saying that he needs his help. It quickly spirals into a pointing contest with them recreating the famous meme of the 1967 animated Spider-Man pointing at what appears to be himself (it is a criminal pretending to be Spider-Man to commit crimes) and just doing this for the gag. While we don’t know the intention of Miguel time traveling or dimension traveling, I’m sure this will all be made clear in the trailer for the sequel of this movie which has already been announced along with an all-female Spider-Women spin-off movie.