Sure, we’ve seen multiple Spider-Men come and go over the past decade or so. It started off with Tobey Maguire, then it was Andrew Garfield, and now Tom Holland as the teenaged Peter Parker who “didn’t want to go” in Avengers: Infinity War (2018.) But this? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) introduces a new breed of radioactive spider-bitten vigilantes.
Sony knows how to kick off their animated productions right. Even from the opening credits where the audience is overviewed with the brief history of Spider-Man, where the first Peter Parker (Chris Pine) is introduced, and how exactly he came to be, equipped with a tragic backstory, things hit the ground running. Troubled teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is brought into the picture. He’s shown struggling to get along with his father Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry) and respect his standings as a Brooklyn NYPD Officer while trying to fit in as an “average kid.”
The animation styles vary by character– in Miles’ universe, the artwork is heavy with comic-book style lineart and shading. This is contrasted with other characters as they are met along the way. While Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) are styled in smoother, more anatomically standard design, Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) is an “anime schoolgirl” equipped with a robotic sidekick, and Spider-Noir (Nicholas Cage) is brooding in 30’s black-and-white. Peter Porker, otherwise known as Spider-Ham, voiced by the lovable John Mulaney, brings a whimsical and cartoon perspective into the mix as a two-dimensional pig. Each spider-ling is a defined character with hardships to share. Their origin stories are unsurprisingly similar, but humor is used to tackle that. There are strong character definitions that make each member of the quintet unique-yet-lovable. From a burnt-out Peter Parker to the pretty blonde trying to find her peace, there’s quite a spectrum of personalities.
The animation is mesmerizing. It’s clean, crisp, polished and perfected. The color palettes are loud yet complimentary as each scene is not too bold nor brash to the eye. In a universe full of neon lights and glitching dimensions collided at the hands of Wilson Fisk (Liev Schrieber) and members of the Sinister Six in hopes to undo the past, the artists are clever enough to design graphical errors in a way that they’re appealing to the eye while presented as a big enough “threat” to the protagonists onscreen.
The writing is smart, quick-witted, clever and pokes fun at itself. There is a fluid dialog that supports itself while remaining to be genuine, well-constructed and heartfelt. There is a natural cadence that carries on between fight scene and heart-to-heart conversations. Stan Lee makes one of his final cameos and it may be his most memorable yet. The movie is dedicated to him and Steve Ditko as a tribute.
Any good movie starts with a solid score, as music is a very important component. This being said, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse balances a traditionally orchestrated score while including heavy influences from rap, hip-hop, and electronic genres. The soundtrack itself is complimentary, and like the movie itself, the music accompanying it is unique and flared with individuality. It carries itself well and serves a core purpose. It suits the film perfectly and matches a consistent tone. Music makes or breaks a movie. It can make a good piece a great one. And in this case, it did.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a cosmic-colored delight that transcends the bounds of creativity and exceeds expectations while remaining to be a powerfully impressive manic joyride, standing unmatched as it combines elements of humor, heart, and humanity into the superhero film that we’ve been waiting for.