I went into this film with no expectations, I was mainly drawn in by the fact that the team behind one of my favourite animated films, The Lego Movie, worked on this film as well. I’m so glad I saw it, because after some reflection, I can now say with confidence that this, in my opinion, is the best Spider-Man film since 2004’s Spider-Man 2, maybe even better.
The primary antagonist of this film isn’t Peter Parker, as many casual fans would expect, but instead, it is Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who some people will already know is typically seen as the successor to Peter Parker in the comic book world. Without going into too much detail, we’re introduced to Miles when he is a normal kid, just trying to get by and adjust to life in a new school. He’s eventually thrust into a chain of events which inevitably steer him on to the path of becoming a new Spider-Man. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, don’t worry, because after this is all set up, the narrative goes in a brand new, fresh direction which I didn’t expect at all, proving that there is still plenty of life in a franchise that has been around for a very, very long time.
Again, without going in to too much detail, anyone who has seen any kind of marketing material for this film will know that Miles isn’t alone on his journey. Thanks to some dodgy science experimentation, a whole array of different Spider-People are plunged into the same dimension as Miles, and they must work together to eliminate the threat before catastrophe strikes.
With the exception of a washed-up, out of shape, unwilling men Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) from another dimension, the rest of the Spider-People aren’t a lot more than glorified, extended cameos. But that doesn’t mean they’re robbed of any individuality or personality. They all have their charms and they’re immensely entertaining. My personal favourite was “Spider-Man Noir”, played brilliantly by Nicholas Cage, most of the Spider-People are introduced with an “origin story” sequence and I’m not exaggerating when I say that “Spider-Man Noir” almost had us in tears of laughter with his dark, depressing outlook on life. There’s a character for everyone in this film and it does a fantastic job of juggling them around so they don’t feel unnecessary, but also not giving them too much time and detracting from what is a very solid story.
The best part of this film, however, is the animation style, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before and it was absolutely beautiful. You can tell that the filmmakers wanted to go all in with this and play around with the technology. The result is a very stylistic medium, which really pays tribute to the comic-book roots of Spider-Man and makes you feel like you’re watching a comic book come to life, the film utilizes powerful, vibrant colours to perfection and the overall result is a beautiful, visual spectacle with plenty of pizzazz. If the fact that this film is animated is a factor putting you off watching it, believe me, don’t let it. Admittedly, it might take you 5 or 10 minutes to get used to the style, but once you’ve adjusted, you’ll be sucked into this incredible world and the fact it is animated will become an afterthought, you’ll just be enjoying the ride and appreciating how much effort has gone into this film.
Into the Spider-Verse has absolutely everything you could want from a super-hero film. It’s got strong, interesting characters. It’s got a powerful, entertaining story. It’s incredibly funny, but it’s also got plenty of sad, poignant moments that you perhaps wouldn’t expect. This was one of the biggest surprises of 2018 for me, in a good way. I will reiterate again, this is the best Spider-Man film since 2004, and honestly, I think there’s a strong argument that this transcends Spider-Man 2 and could well be the best Spider-Man film we’ve had thus far, it captures everything that is great about the character(s). Sony has had a lot of criticism as of late with their handling of the franchise, but they may well have found their calling with animation, and I really hope they continue down this path.
If you’re not sure about this film, I’ll just say this: Please, give it a chance… You won’t regret it. (Oh, and make sure you stick around right until the end for one of the best post-credit scenes I’ve ever seen.)
I give Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a 9/10.