With the rise of live action superhero movies, we often forget the true nature of characters’ comic book origins. We associate our favorite heroes with a more serious environment thanks to such projects as the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. Because of this, we have almost forgotten that early versions of these heroes were kind of quirky. They were costumed people who fought crime with special powers. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. It was just meant to be entertaining.
Some superheroes have suffered because of this radical change in tone. More specifically, the DC heroes have seen massive changes to their personalities and looks. They act more serious and do things that don’t really fit with their morals. In other words, they’ve been completed redone.
In the streets of Brooklyn, Miles Morelas (Shameik Moore) is just an average teenager trying to survive a new, elite boarding school. But when he is bitten by a spider and develops strange new abilities, and he discovers that a criminal known as Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is experimenting with a dangerous Super Collider. When Spider-Man is unable to defeat him, Miles is confronted with the idea of taking over for him, despite being new to his powers.
The collider has also released five other versions of Spider-Man from other dimensions, an alternate Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), a 1930s version named Spider-Noir (Nicholas Cage), an anime girl named Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and a goofy, cartoon version named Peter Porker/Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Together, these Spider-Men will have to work together, stop Kingpin, and destroy the collider before all of reality is destroyed.
It’s hard to trust Sony Animation when they are pretty infamous for producing some of the lowest level offerings in animation. While they’ve saved themselves periodically with films like their co-productions with Aardman and the Hotel Transylvania movies, many of their films tend to feel less than special. Their films tailor to a rather depressing kiddy crowd with outdated Internet trends (selfies, twerking, etc.) and scored with the latest pop and rap songs. You know, things kids aren’t really old enough to be into. That makes this movie all the more exciting, because it feels nothing like their past films.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only the best animated superhero film and Sony Animation’s best film, but probably one of the best superhero movies produced today. There is so much to love about this movie, from it’s absolutely gorgeous, groundbreaking animation to it’s pitch perfect voice cast, to it’s heartwarming story, this is a superhero film that isn’t afraid to embrace the absurd source material that inspired it.
The animation is truly the best thing about. It’s mixture of Sony’s traditional style and the hand drawn style of classic comic books, this truly is like nothing we’ve seen before. It’s hilarious when Miles gets his powers and his thoughts start appearing in little thought bubbles, or the heroes’ fighting appears in BOOM and SMACK bubbles, all like the classic Marvel comic books. The last time we saw something like this was The Lego Batman Movie, but that didn’t use this element to the extent that this film does. This film really incorporates this into the story, and it makes it all the more enjoyable.
The other innovative thing about the animation were the characters. Miles, Peter, and Gwen all looked like comic book characters that came to life and leaped off the pages of their issues. The animation of Spider-Noir, Peni, and Spider-Ham were also awesome. The latter two look straight out of an anime and a Looney Toons cartoon. Place them in a CG animated environment and they are the literal stands of the film.
The cast is another highlight of the film. Everyone fit their respective characters perfectly, especially Moore and Steinfeld. It was also refreshing to finally get a good performance out of Jake Johnson. His previous roles have either been bad performances or bad characters, but his take on an older, disillusioned Peter Parker was finally a character that he made likable. It’s nice that he finally turned his career around with this.
For the first time, we finally got a superhero movie that fully embraces the weirdness of its comic book origins. Every time the characters introduce themselves, the film humorously references how each of their origins are basically the same. The film also embraces the impact superheroes have had on our culture. All of the merchandise Spider-Man involves himself him hilariously references the stupid, real life merchandise these characters have been branded on.
This new rendition of Spider-Man is not just a great superhero movie, but a great movie all together. It’s animation is breathtaking and groundbreaking, it’s cast is pitch perfect, and it never skips out on the heart of the story while embracing its fourth wall-breaking premise. With sequels and spin-offs already in the works, this is a superhero franchise that I could really get into. I can’t wait to see more of these characters in the future.