Into the SpiderVerse: A Review

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Editor’s Note: While there is a warning in the text, be advise here be spoilers.

Greetings, Heroes!

I just got back from seeing Spiderman: Into the SpiderVerse and I have OPINIONS. Because, of course I do.

I’m gonna do this a little differently. I want to talk about how this movie made me feel which means I am going to probably spoil THE WHOLE DAMN THING.

Okay, let’s get down to business. Spiderman: Into the SpiderVerse is the first big-screen romp of beloved iteration of Spiderman: Miles Morales. Morales is very important to the canon of Spiderman because he is one of the first new versions of the beloved web-slinger. Morales is biracial, young and is just as New York as Parker was/is and he’s consistently one of the best and most popular versions of New York’s favorite hero in a world full of other Spider-adjacent people.

The bones of the story are very comic book: Miles becomes the new Spiderman after the original model of Spiderman is placed out of commission. We lose the beloved Peter Parker at the hands of Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) and his evil somewhat generic company at a dumb as hell plan to open up another dimension under New York City. This other dimension opens up several new dimensions and you get to meet several other SpiderFolks including some of my personal favorites like Spider Noir (a 1930s film noir version of Spiderman), Spider Gwen (an alternate version of Spiderman where it’s Gwen Stacy as the web-head in lieu of Peter Park), Spider Ham who is real because comics and a very fun Japanese anime genderbent SpiderGirl who seemed to exist to annoy me as an anime fan with her tired tropes about what anime is.

The group have a lot to do. They have to make a man out of Miles Morales (a spider-man out of him) and they have to do the thing to make the plot resolve.

Now, before I go on about all the ways I love this movie, I do want to talk about one thing that I do have a gripe with. I miss tension. Even though comic books and thus comic book movies have always had an issue with tension since you know the next issue or movie the hero is coming back, that doesn’t mean they were all bereft of tension. Even though we knew Superman was coming back after The Death of Supermanwe were all still surprised when and how it happened. This movie did not feel like it has any stakes in it and maybe that’s just because it’s an origin or if it’s because this movie is possibly more geared towards kids: either way, it annoyed me.

But enough negativity. I loved this movie. I saw this film with Carlos (another huge Spiderman fan) and I was on the edge of my seat for most of it. There are a few parts in particular that I want to talk about more. The Spiderman that you see in the trailers and through most of the film who isn’t Morales is actually Peter B. Parker and if you know anything about The Clone Saga then you were giddy like I was and if you don’t, then he’s just another weird Spiderman. I loved that little nod to the much maligned aspect of the comics. The soundtrack is on par with Black Panther as far as being amazing and modern and good.The animation of this movie is some of the best I have seen in my whole damn near 30 years of being on this planet. Each line is sharp, the aesthetic is fun and playful and visually it is a masterpiece. I could gush about the animation and editing but we’re here to talk story.

The writers handled Morales perfectly. He’s humble, kind, down to earth and the most real version of a superhero I think we’ve ever gotten on the big screen. The movie reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with his character to begin with. The cast never feels bloated despite being a huge ensemble and the few twists and turns thrown in are fantastic. There’s one reveal where we find out that one of Kingpin’s head scientists is in fact a version of Doc Oc and dear reader, I screamed in that theater. It was such a clever and stunning reveal that I am still emotional (in all the right ways) thinking about it. The premise itself was something I was anxious about. I’m a long-time comic book fan, I’m used to multiple worlds and multiple versions of heroes. Not to say that casual fans “couldn’t” get their heads around such a thing, but it’s a hard sell unless you’re familiar with the work. I am amazed and proud of how well all of this was handled.

This film also features a cameo with Stan Lee where he speaks about heroism and yes, dear reader, I did get emotional. I may not always have nice things to say about Stan Lee the man but Stan Lee the figure is so important to comic book fans everywhere and it was wonderful to see him animated on screen just one more time. Additionally, there are bonus points to finally giving Steve Ditko some damn credit and that made me very very happy.

This movie perfectly balances Easter Eggs for long-time fans but you don’t need to be a long-time fan to get or appreciate this movie and that is truly one of the best things a comic book movie can be. It can be so good that it satisfies fans and still delights people who are new into the franchise.

I cannot recommend this movie more. 5/5 Stars. The movie is PG so it’s pretty safe for most kids and don’t worry, adults: the film does not talk down to you. There were surprisingly few kids (that may be a function of the fact that I saw this just before Christmas and in theory good children should be spending time with family and desperately trying to appease Santa) in our showing and in a theater full of mostly adults there were few low moments.

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