Into the Spider-Verse review: A heartwarming ode to the Spider

Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV /

We’ve gone through several different film incarnations of the beloved Marvel wonder, Spider-Man, but Sony’s ambitious animated adventure, Into the Spider-Verse, may honestly be the best of the bunch!

The story of Spider-Man should be all too familiar to even the least knowledgeable comic book fan out there. It’s difficult to put into words just how instrumental Spider-Man has been in bringing the world of nerd culture into the mainstream. First, we get the Sam Raimi films that started in 2002 with the lovable Tobey Maguire playing the iconic wallflower hero himself, Peter Parker. The trilogy’s commercial success helped propel Spider-Man into the mainstream, along with the help of several popular video games.

Spider-Man earned the love and respect of even the most jaded movie and comic book goers all thanks to his kind-hearted nature, charming awkwardness and arguably most of all, his amazing perseverance in the face of certain doom. Spider-Man’s will to save the day and keep the people he loves safe has become the template most heroes inevitably get compared to in terms of heroism and bravery. The most lovable nerd becomes the strongest hero the world needs, which is just downright inspiring if nothing else.

But after a number of different interpretations fill our screens over the past 15 years, the story can understandably get a little old. Sometimes, we just don’t want to see Uncle Ben give Peter that legendary pep talk or have Peter stumbling over his words while talking to a potential love interest. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse takes that frustration and replies with a burning question: Does the story of Spider-Man really only have to be about Peter Parker?

Into the Spider-Verse prides itself on not just being a Spider-Man film, but a Spider-Man film with a different story to tell. A new perspective to consider. Parker, for all of the memories he has provided us, is not the driver this time, serving as a passenger side acquaintance instead, all the while a new face wears the Spider mask and takes the mantle of Spider-Man.

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Exactly how will this story be told? We’ve gotten so many interpretations of Spider-Man on the big screen, so how is it possible that a Spider-Man film could end up feeling so incredibly different in its approach to the storied lore?

What is it that makes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse the one true film that can boast about being BETTER than any film in the Sam Raimi trilogy?

“My name is Miles Morales…”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse starts off almost a little too similar to previous Spider films: a lovably corny narration helmed by the one and only Peter Parker. In it, we get Parker telling us basically everything that we already know about him. He was just a normal everyday boy until he got bit by a radioactive spider, granting him spider-like abilities, his uncle dies, he uses that as motivation to help others, he meets Mary Jane, etc.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV /

But that intro doesn’t last long nor does it introduce the main hero of the story. Right after that, we switch to the perspective of the film’s main hero: a teenage boy drawing in his room while doing a so-so job at singing a Post Malone song. This boy is Miles Morales, a bright and fairly well-liked boy growing up in the heart of Brooklyn with his mother (a nurse) and father (an officer).

Right from that introduction, Into the Spider-Verse brings us into a universe where Miles becomes the unlikely hero of the story and it is oh-so-fitting to have Morales receive the coveted film treatment that Parker has been bombarded with. Much like Peter, Miles presents himself as a smart, but lowkey boy, keeping to himself when he is transferred into an academy of higher learning, away from all of his friends in the neighborhood.

Miles is energetic, but in a constant search of connection, often hanging out with uncle over his own dad. Into the Spider-Verse presents Miles as something of a lost soul, having all of the talent at his disposal to use but struggling to find an appropriate outlet to adopt. Morales is very much a kid struggling to find his purpose, which makes his character arc all the more compelling, as his newfound spider powers (courtesy of that meddling radioactive spider) force him into a position where he must make firm decisions all on his own while still struggling to connect with his family.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV /

“I’m the one and only Spider-Man…”

Into the Spider-Verse takes the reins on the Miles Morales vehicle and gives the audience a grand tour of the Museum of Spider-People, which opens after a cosmic super-collider sends different Spider incarnations into Miles’ universe and leaving them trapped there. From then on, Miles must find it within himself to team up with the Spider Squad and save all of Brooklyn. It is here where Spider-Verse shines brightest.

Into the Spider-Verse takes the complicated nature of multiple universes and weaves them all into Miles’ own personal journey of self-discovery and maturity, all of which is gripping and emotional without even the slightest bit of emotional pandering and manipulation. The emotions felt from seeing Miles fail and continue to get back up are earned, as we are with Miles every step of the way. The writing ensures that Miles doesn’t ever get off easy and that he must correct his mistakes while embracing his imperfect nature.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV /

All of this wouldn’t work at all without the charismatic and awe-inspiring performance of Shameik Moore, who voices Miles with a strong attention to tender detail. Moore portrays Miles as a chill and happy-go-lucky kid who genuinely cares about the world around him. He is often more at home roaming the streets of Brooklyn than he is staying cooped up in his room, but Moore still manages to give Miles a sense of quietness when he is alone or feeling isolated from the world. Moore breathes the life and charm of a Spider-hero into Miles, who takes those elements and runs with them to craft a Spider-Man protagonist who feels bold, yet charmingly understated in Into the Spider-Verse.

All of these elements come together to create one of, if not arguably the best interpretation of Spider-Man that currently exists in the world of film. Morales possesses the strong Spider spirit we have grown used to seeing in Parker, but his small nuances, as well as his position as a young Puerto Rican-African American boy in Brooklyn, set him apart from practically every Spider incarnation. Morales’ charming personality and likability give Into the Spider-Verse a beating heart that becomes the main focal point for the entire film.

“At least that’s what I thought…”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a Spider-Man film that embraces the loving spirit of comic books while not shying away from the world of consequences. This is the rare Spider-Man film that explores the unfortunate distance that seems to exist between modern-age parents and children, all while remaining genuinely hilarious with a sharp and accessible sense of humor. You will not need to be a die-hard Spider-Man fan in order to understand the many jokes that lift up this film while never turning it into a joke.

Into the Spider-Verse is not afraid to joke around with the audience, especially when it introduces newer characters towards the middle of the film (watch out for Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney), but the film ultimately functions as an energetic and loving tribute to the hero known as Spider-Man and the various ups and downs one may experience with him or her. The zany world of comic books confidently blends its insane world with a level of maturity that is both welcome and needed in superhero films now.

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment via EPK.TV /

Superhero films often market themselves as fun and adventurous popcorn thriller-comedies that are guaranteed to entertain. Into the Spider-Verse boasts those qualities, but the stand-out feature for the film is its confidence in the idea that Spider-Man, as well as comic book stories in general, can serve to entertain AND inspire. Into the Spider-Verse is more than happy to sit beside us and marvel with us at the gorgeous visuals accompanying a meticulously crafted superhero epic surrounding the coming-of-age of Miles Morales.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is a film that is most assuredly proud of what it is: a creative and highly entertaining adventure epic with an undying love for both Spider-Man and the millions of Spider fans across the globe. I would even go as far as to say that Into the Spider-Verse stands out as a creative triumph in 2018. The level of creativity and passion that went into the stylized visuals, bumping soundtrack, and emotional powerhouse of a story is crystal clear and the film’s minor pitfalls (mostly concerning the lack of development for the villains) are embraced and welcomed in the process.

Stan Lee stated in the past that Spider-Man was his favorite character and judging by his cameo in the movie, it’s easy to see why. Spider-Man is a hero for everybody, no matter how different one may see themselves from him. The heart of the Spider exists within all of us and that is something that both Stan Lee and the filmmakers behind Into the Spider-Verse seem to truly believe. It makes Lee’s cameo all the more emotional and inspiring. I won’t spoil how the scene goes, but all I will say is that it is the most honest Stan Lee cameo ever filmed.

To get an extra kick in the tear glands, stay after the credits for two post-credit scenes. One may make you laugh yourself to tears from the sheer unpredictability of it and the other is a heart-tugging moment that perfectly demonstrates just why these stories are so important to people. If you’re not much into comic books or superheroes, Into the Spider-Verse is the perfect place to start.

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Rating: 9.5/10

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will be debuting with Thursday night previews tonight, followed by a wide release on Friday! What’s your favorite incarnation of Spider-Man and why? Sound off in the comments below!