The first Spider-Man movie was a made-for-TV film in 1977; but the character’s popularity has ensured that screenwriters and directors continue to return time and time again. In 2002, we had that awful venture from Sony starring Tobey Maguire; the 2010s saw Andrew Garfield take on the mantle; and most recently we’ve seen the success of Marvel Studio’s Spider-Man with Tom Holland as the title character. Seeing as that was only released last year, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was a Spidey saturation; but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a worthwhile watch. It is more edgy and contemporary in comparison to its predecessors, and sucessfully pays homage to comic-book-style animation.
Set in Brooklyn, New York, Afro-Latino teen Miles Morales gains superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. As he gets used to, and tries to seek out answers to, his new powers, he stumbles upon Peter Parker, the current Spider-Man, fighting to stop Kingpin’s portal to other parallel universes. This portal sucks other versions of Spider-Man into Miles’ universe, and the giant team of friendly neighbourhood Spider-Men (Spider-Mans?) combines forces to get themselves home and shut down the portal created by the evil Kingpin.
The most impressive feat of this film is its unique animation style, which creates a comic-book-like flow throughout the movie. Characters jump from comic strip to comic strip, and the occasion page peel serves as the transition between scenes.
Another way in which the animation pays tribute to the graphic novels from which the story originates are the onomatopoeic graphics, such as “POW” and “BLAP”, that adorn fight sequences and action scenes. Throughout the film, when a glitch happens, the colour palette becomes extra vibrant; a purposeful and effective storytelling technique that draws you in. Additionally, all the Spider-Men are drawn differently, their unique animation style a direct correspondence with universe from which they came.
The soundtrack is great, too. Filled with tracks by modern R’n’B artists such as Post Malone and Lil Wayne, the music makes the film stand out from classic superhero movies, giving it a more modern, almost experimental vibe, which is also a reflection of Miles’ character and personality.
Speaking of Miles, he is a very relatable character, especially, perhaps, for third-culture kids. You’ll feel an immediate connection, and relish watching him grow into a hero with the help from the other Spider-Men from the other universes.
Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a great superhero film with a unique animation style that complements each character and scene masterfully. The different production houses aside, any Marvel fan would be delighted to see that this film totally redeems Sony from the Maguire version of the webbed warrior Spider-Man, and will most certainly welcome more versions of their beloved characters like this one.