SPIDERMAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE Review: 7 out of 10 (Comic Book Come to Life)
Comic book fans know that animated films were their bread and butter long before the MCU or DC live action films were born. But these films were relegated into mostly DVD purchases and talked about in comic shops. Hell, casual fans who might claim some Bale or Keaton Batman as their favorite would be shunned for never hearing of MASK OF THE PHANTASM—seen by many hardcore fans as the best Batman film ever. These animated comic book films were lauded by few and ignored by most, seen as an extension of Saturday morning cartoons and little else.
But the times have changed.
Enter SPIDERMAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Although the film is rated PG and still does seem to dial down its intensity (and language) in many ways, Sony has now crossed a new line in the comic book film world. Offering a successful start to what certainly could be a great future franchise. With voice talents including Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, alongside Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, and Liev Schreiber Sony brings an exciting new chapter to the Spiderman series of films. The movie wisely avoids any traditional origin stories and doesn’t attempt to tie itself to the greater MCU. Placed in a larger “multiverse” of alternate realities, this film instead focuses on Miles Morales—a young bi-racial teenager who is adjusting to his new boarding school in New York. When Miles himself is bitten by a spider and then encounters the Peter Parker version of Spiderman, he ends up being thrown headlong into the life of a hero before he is prepared for it. And when a machine built by Kingpin punches a hole through several alternate universes and realities, several more versions of those worlds webslingers are thrust into the world with Miles. There, they team up to close the rift in time and space, so they can all get back to their own realities and stop the Kingpin.
If that seems a bit too sci-fi, it just nearly is. But this film is wisely self-aware of its own sort of storytelling trick here and just plays it off with a wink and a nod. Yes there is a version of Spidey that is a pig.The far better content here comes with Miles Morales and his struggle to be a hero when he is just a kid. No other Spiderman film to date has truly captured this like this movie does. Miles is a scared boy who is asked to be a hero. There are some family moments here that are really beautiful and heartfelt. The animation style is also incredibly unique—constantly reminding you it is a comic book film with its cel-shading techniques and dialogue inserts.
SPIDERMAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is deep enough into the Spidey mythos to give hardcore fans plenty to fawn over and lots of Easter Eggs to find. However, it is also approachable enough for the most casual moviegoer to enjoy. With a nice blend of action, visuals, and laughs this is a completely new branch of the ever-growing comic book film cinematic tree. Here’s hoping it continues to bloom.