Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as Spider-Man in Sony Pictures Animation's SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features many surprises and prevents the superhero genre from going stale by injecting a fresh bite.

This is one of the biggest films of the year in which I suggest going in completely cold.  It means not reading reviews or watching trailers until after seeing the film.  I say this because we’re not without the typical surprises.  However, some of this comes by way of the voice roles not provided in the main casting.  I won’t spoil them here but let me say you’re in for a surprise.  One of which takes place at the very end of the credits!  That’s not to say that this film is without Easter eggs because it packs so much in under 2 hours.  With that being said, let’s dig into the film.

Our main focus is on Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore).  If you’re not familiar, Miles is the creation of both Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli created the teenager in 2011.  Miles’ uncle, Aaron (Mahershala Ali), made an appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where he was portrayed by Donald Glover.  Aaron returns here with the same checkered past.  Anyway, the film starts sometime after Miles transferred to the Brooklyn Visions Academy.  He’s clearly unpleasant there and lets his cop father Jeff Davis (Brian Tyree Henry) and nurse mother Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez) know this.

Peni (Kimiko Glen), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) in Sony Pictures Animation's SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.
Peni (Kimiko Glen), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) in Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation.

Miles’ life is about to get more interesting when–let’s do this one more time–he gets bitten by a radioactive spider.  Adjusting to these newly found powers is easier said than done.  Getting through this will require the help of others.  The Peter Parker of his universe is sadly not an option.  Because Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and his scientists have build the Collider, it brings more Spider-people into the same dimension.  We’ll eventually learn more as to what fuels Kingpin.  Again, it would be unwise to give this away.

Miles soon finds himself meeting Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn).  They all add their own uniqueness to the film.  There’s a much different version of Aunt May (Lily Tomlin) than I’ve ever seen before.  All of this comes as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Miles’ universe dies at the hands of Kingpin.

It’s become Marvel tradition to expect a Stan Lee cameo.  We get one but seeing it after he passed away makes it especially sad this time around.  Sometimes, there’s a message with these cameos while other times, it’s mere fan service.  As the owner of Stan’s Collectibles, his message has never seemed more poignant.  It’s not only a meaningful message for fans but the importance is especially true for Miles.  Both Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko passed away this year and both are appropriately thanked during the credits for their creation.

What the new Spider-Man film offers us is a mix between hand-drawn and CGI animation.  Produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, it’s no surprise that the animation is so ground-breaking!  There’s a non-traditional approach by holding images for two frames rather than one.  I love how the film is made in a way in which we’re reading a comic book.  After all, this is the same duo who gave us The Lego Movie so everything is truly awesome!

While the Spider-Man story has been told plenty of times, what makes this film feel fresh is that they approach it by way of using Miles Morales as the lead.  It wouldn’t be a Lord Miller film without poking some fun at the gazillion Spider-Man films out there.  I’ll say no more because of spoiler reasons but they do so in a way that makes this so much fun.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is–without a doubt–the comic book film that didn’t even know we need. It’s my vote for Best Animated Feature.

DIRECTOR: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
SCREENWRITERS: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
CAST: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, with Nicolas Cage and Liev Schreiber

Sony Pictures Animation opens Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in theaters on December 14, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.