One of the things I try to do as a film critic is keep an open mind during all movies. There are critics and other film personalities that I follow that see movies before I do and post their reviews or thoughts, which I of course read. I try my best to not let their opinion set a certain expectation before I even see the movie.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a movie that took the cinematic world by storm. People were declaring it the best animated movie of the year and some even declared it the best Spider-Man movie ever made. These were incredibly large claims, so it was hard to not have those ideas rolling around in my head while watching it.
Is it the best animated movie of the year? Definitely not. In fact, it’s not even the best animated superhero movie of the year (shout out to Incredibles 2, which gets better every time I watch it). Is it the best Spider-Man movie ever made? Well Spider-Man 2 exists, so no, it is not. Into the Spiderverse is a very good movie with some of the wildest animation I have ever seen, but at the end of the day, it’s just another Spider-Man origin movie.
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse focuses mostly on Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and his journey in becoming the next web-slinger in New York. However, he doesn’t do it alone. When Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber) tries a multi-dimensional experiment, something malfunctions which opens up a number of different dimensions, bringing numerous other versions of Spider-Man into Miles’ world, including Peter Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (voiced by Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (voiced by Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Ham (voiced by John Mulaney). Together, the other Spider-Men/Women try to teach Miles the meaning of his powers while also trying to stop Kingpin from his plan.
The animation in this film is insane. It’s a little bit Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly mixed with pop art and comics. It’s loud, bright, and exciting, with some scenes so wild that they may or may not cause an epileptic seizure. Each character is so unique and cool. The designs of each Spider-person is different and they all look awesome. And I absolutely loved the design of Kingpin, who is gigantic. The action scenes are thrilling and the voice-work from all the actors is great. The dialog is quick and funny, with a number of meta jokes and references for lovers of Spider-Man and pop culture in general.
But at its core, Into the Spider-Verse is just a Mile Morales origin story. We see him get bit by the spider, the post-bite illness, the learning of the powers, the doubts, and the triumphs. The only difference between Miles’ story and Peter Parker’s story is that Peter Parker figured it all out on his own, where here it took five other Spider-people to help Miles become Spider-Man. Did we need the other Spider-people for a Miles Morales origin story? No. In fact, the movie could have easily existed without the other Spider-people. This is a movie that could have just been about Miles and it would have been just as good, if not better.
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is a really cool, really fun Spider-Man origin story. My expectations of the movie were tempered a little bit due to the early hype surrounding the film, but I still enjoyed it. This is a movie that will require an additional viewing or two to grasp the movie from a different perspective.
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