Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ★★★★½

It always fits. Eventually.

I've watched movies for about as far back as I can remember. But, from my early days, we're talkin' like three or four years old, I distinctly remember three films that I would come back to again and again. Two Steven Spielberg classics, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. I didn't get into comics through comics. That film was my gateway, and it was enough. I adored the character of Peter Parker, owned a number of merchandise from it, had a crush on Mary Jane Watson, the whole thing. Spider-Man has fallen down my personal list of favorite superheroes over the years, but he was my first favorite, so that film and that character will forever hold a unique place in my heart.

Even if I recognize that Into the Spider-Verse is the superior Spidey film objectively, I heavily doubt anything will ever top that 2002 classic for me personally. That being said, believe the hype. Believe the hype. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is, fitting of the character(s), amazing. When asked to describe what's so great about it, I'm prompted to just say, well, everything really. This tops 300 as the comic book film to best nail the look and feel of flipping through a great comic. The visuals are astounding, and the devil is in the details. Speech bubbles, a hard punch resulting in a (POW!) on-screen, different visual aesthetics applying to each unique Spider-Person. Not to mention that it's a film that makes putting on 3D glasses actually worth the extra few dollars. Fans will be delighted at all of the cheeky little references to Spidey lore and twists on known celebrities and brand products slightly different in Miles' universe. (The flick also holds easily one of the best Stan Lee cameos ever. Rest in peace.) It really just might honest to God be one of the prettiest looking animated films period.

Visuals aren't all. To me, what speaks to the true power of Into the Spider-Verse is not just the strength of how it looks. Coinciding with the visuals, this is an extremely well-told character and emotionally driven story. The humor is fantastic, Nicolas Cage's Spider-Man Noir stealing the show by easily giving my dad and I the most laughs from the film. (Oh, and Spider-Ham. Glorious in his own right.) But even then, this is through and through the Miles Morales show. Miles has the best character arc I've seen from a superhero film in a long time, and even though you know he's going to master his powers and save the day before the credits roll, you are riveted throughout his entire journey. The positives and negatives. His expertly done relationship with his father. The smile-inducing triumphs, and the tear-jerking failures. (I have to say that his version of an Uncle Ben incident is one of the best dramatic scenes from the year.) It makes the superhero origin story fantastic again, which more than enough shows the precision on display.

This also no joke has my favorite incarnation of Peter Parker since Tobey Maguire. I was skeptical of Jake Johnson's ability to play the character going in, but I was delighted to have my doubts eradicated. Peter is out of shape, showing grey hairs, and just out of his element in numerous ways. Alongside teaching Miles to reach his inner Spidey, Peter is learning himself how to become Spider-Man again. Add in fun Spider-Women with Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker, and it's a glorious Spider-Jamboree. (Briefly touching on the villains, pretty solid, shockingly. Kingpin is done far better than I was expecting, having some surprising emotional reasoning behind his actions. The true shout-out has to go to Prowler. I won't dive into him specifically for the sake of spoilers, but believe me, he's great.)

Touching on something else briefly, the music. Stupendous. The score itself rings with grandiosity, and the soundtrack to coincide with it is great too. We got Post Malone, Vince Staples, Biggie Smalls, Drake, and a few more. (Plus a very special cover of "Jingle Bells" in the credits you don't want to miss.) Even if you're not all that into rap or hip-hop, all of the music flows into the vibe of the film like butter. To match with the music, sound design is solid as well. Punches and explosions have real impact, perfectly nailing the excitement you'd likely get as a kid flipping through the latest adventure of Peter Parker.

As a whole, I can't necessarily label Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a masterpiece of animated cinema. But hot damn, does it come so very close. You can pretty much bet money on it that I'm gonna find the time to see this again in theaters. I do believe we could have a borderline game changer on our hands if this does well enough at the box office. It can change the way animated films are made. It can change the way superhero and general comic book films are approached. Marvel and Sony have something on their hands that they should be damn proud of. For a couple hours, this takes you back to your room, the window open, birds chirping, a drink by your side, and a comic in your hand. Simpler times that no longer just have to be a memory. You can experience it over and over again. I want at least ten more of these, and a hundred spin-offs specifically focusing on different Spideys across the multiverse. Please go out and support this.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man,
Does whatever a spider can.
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies.
Look out!
Here comes the Spider-Man.

(OH, and also stick around for that traditional Marvel end credits scene. It's actually worth the wait. Oh man, it's most definitely worth the wait.)


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