“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” Swings Circles Around Every 2018 Film Of Its Kind



And now: the third Spider-Man film of 2018, produced from the studio that gave you The Emoji Movie. It also has an oh-so stable sounding creative team that consists of three directors, two writers, and eleven producers. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s probably got the most convoluted-sounding plot of any Spider-Man film thus far. Multiverses? Grossly reimagined villains? Space portals? Multiple Spider-Men? Spider-Man 3 couldn’t even manage multiple villains.

And… it’s one of the best films of the year?

Sony’s non-Marvel adjacent Spider-Man outings have become such ritualized disasters that I think part of me wanted this to fail. When a film fails as hard as these do – and have for over a decade – it becomes a novelty in of itself.

Not even Marvel can seem to make this character work entirely. Spider-Man: Homecoming (the first and thus far only Marvel-produced Spider-Man film), is, to its credit, a pretty good film. But, like many ‘pretty good’ superhero films do, it entirely missed the point of the character. Yes, Tom Holland was a great lead. Yes, Michael Keaton’s Vulture was probably the best Marvel villain since Loki.

However, it also made the brash decision to put Spider-Man in a high-tech suit, root it too deeply in franchise lore, and poorly reimagines a lot of Spider-Man’s mythos. This didn’t entirely derail the film – again, it’s pretty good – but made it a meager experience when compared to Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films.

I say all this because I really like Spider-Man. That and I’m still sort of in shock that easily the best Spider-Man film in over a decade is a cartoon that doesn’t even headline Peter Parker. Not only that, but it’s a genuinely great film. Without a doubt it is the best animated film of the year, one of the best films of the year, and possibly the best superhero film produced since The Avengers.

As mentioned, Peter Parker isn’t the star here. While he’s present, he takes a backseat to a new iteration of the character in Miles Morales. Miles, for those unfamiliar, is a part-African, part-Puerto Rican teenage boy. Like Peter before him, he too is struggling with fairly typical teenage issues – girls, schoolwork, etc. After being bit by a radioactive spider, Miles enlists the help of Peter Parker – and some unexpected visitors – to help him grapple with his newfound powers and save the world from an otherworldly threat.

For most audiences, this is probably their introduction to the character of Miles. Several are likely curious about how he compares to Peter Parker. Well, for all concerned, fear not: Miles Morales is far and away the strongest character to put on the blue-and-red since Tobey Maguire all the way back in 2002.

The voice acting, as well as the animation that renders him, is gorgeous. Not since The Lego Movie have I come across a studio-produced animated film that boasts this much style and creativity in its aesthetic.

And like The Lego Movie, it has a great story to match its wondrous animation. Films that manage to double as simplistic adventure stories and complex character studies are rare – particularly in this subgenre. And yet, Into The Spider-Verse pulls it off beautifully. Not only that, but it’s also funny – really funny.

Impressively, the film makes the bold attempt to juggle six iterations of Spider-Man at once. Granted, these iterations are given varying levels of prominence/screen time. But still – six? That’s a Herculean task for a film to set for itself. But Into The Spider-Verse never cracks under that pressure. It never so much as dwindles. It realizes each iteration perfectly. If Sony were to give any of them a spinoff, I would have no objections.

If you have nothing scheduled this weekend, go see this film. Heck if you do have something scheduled, cancel and still see it. Because Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a deeply moving, fantastically crafted, one-of-a-kind product that studios don’t release enough of nowadays. Please, I beg you – do not miss this one.

Ratings Key:

★ – Bad (e.g., Godzilla ‘98, Pixels, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Justice League)

★★ – Mediocre (e.g., Incredibles 2, Watchmen, Alice in Wonderland, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle)

★★★ – Good (e.g., Creed II, Batman, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Pretty In Pink, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective)

★★★★ – Great (e.g., Jurassic Park, The Empire Strikes Back, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Social Network)

★★★★★ – Amazing (e.g., Dr. Strangelove, The Terminator, The Dark Knight, Back to the Future, Skyfall)