Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a high-energy, colorful, kinetic romp. I will begin by saying there should be a warning to people with epilepsy or the chronically over-stimulated. This movie has bright, fast-moving, and often random patterns in a myriad of hues and shades that will fry your retinas. If you drop acid before seeing this, book a room at the sanitarium. You’ll need it. Having gotten the PSA out of the way, pun intended, the plot is pretty simple. The Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk, with the aid of a female Doctor Octopus(!) use a strange device to, presumably, reunite Kingpin with his missing wife. Spider-Man shows up, attempts to destroy said device, and ends up dead instead. This is only the first ten minutes. The movie introduces Miles Morales, a black/hispanic Brooklyn kid who’s too smart for school and a bit aimless in life. Miles gets bit by a radioactive spider and gains powers that are similar to a certain other webslinger. Miles differs in that he has a bio-shock like attack and can blend, chameleon style, into the scenery rendering him invisible. Miles struggles to adjust to his new powers, the death of Spider-Man, and the sudden appearance of not one but five “Spider People” from across the multiverse. Together they combat the bad guys and save New York from a cross-dimensional disaster.
I could go knuckle deep with further commentary about the animation or the plot structure but that’s not my style. It’s a really simple “hero’s Journey” kinda film. I enjoyed the appearances of Spider-Man Noir, SpiderGwen (AKA Spider-Woman), and, a personal favorite, Spider-Ham. Marvel has its own multiverse riff which it only has started exploring in the last ten or so years. DC Comics has been doing it way longer. It’s become an overused trope by writers though. Spider-Verse is actually a breath of fresh air however. The characters are distinct and somewhat defined to one degree or another. What I really like about the movie was how it DIDN’T waste time telling the origin story. If anything, it told that story in a very creative way interweaving it throughout the whole movie as a supporting narrative as opposed to eating up time and plot to tell a story we all pretty much know already. Miles becomes a hero by being a hero. He learns as he goes. I found myself on the journey with him. As the story progresses, we watch Miles learn and grow and we grow with him. Ultimately in the end becoming the new Spider-Man. Another thing I enjoyed was how Miles was shown as an awkward teen instead of playing up his mixed heritage. He’s a kid first and foremost. A person’s genetics should never dictate who they are or how they should behave. There are elements of Miles’s world, such as hip-hop music and other cultural markers, but these only round-out his world. His take on the costume is also a reflection of his mixed heritage, honoring both and looking awesome doing it.
Spider-Verse is well worth the viewing. If you like four-color comics or just a good wham-bang-pow meta ride, this is a must see…and when I say meta, I mean damn meta until it hurts. Watch for yourself.
And Spider-Ham. I want more of him.