Summary: Miles Morales is bit by a radioactive spider and becomes New York City’s newest hero.
Well, this is the most fun I’ve had with a Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2. I mean that. Into the Spider-Verse is not only well written, with great voice acting, and spectacular animation, but it feels brand new while still celebrating the beloved character. The dialogue is well written, there are lots of genuine laughs, and the jokes generally have more than one meaning to them either pertaining to the genre or to the Spider-man character himself. But. Even if you aren’t 100% a Spider-Man fan or well versed in the character, it’s still a hell of a ride.
There is a lot to love here- namely that the main character isn’t someone we’re overly familiar with at this point. It’s Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker, and he’s given a similar backstory with enough little changes so that it feels like Spider-Man but with a few twists along the way. He’s in a bit of an identity crisis, as high school students usually are, but unlike all three live-action iterations we’ve had- Miles genuinely feels like a young teenager. It helps that his design is awkward and lanky and that he fits the physical demands of the role, instead of a bulky, athletic early twenty-somethings playing a high school student.
And the animation provides more room and freedom to do lots of things that would otherwise seem kitschy and niche in another kind of movie. It’s not just gorgeous to look at but it really does read as a moving comic book. Like reading Spider-Man in the Daily Prophet. When things feel like it’s slowing down, there’s always the tiniest of visual detail thrown in to enrich the scene. Small pops to imply impact or suggest character emotion add different layers to scenes that would otherwise be straightforward or uneventful and provides complexity to the characters. I felt emotionally invested in each of the characters and genuinely, delightfully engaged with the visuals. And when paired with the music and sound production- phew.
I haven’t even gotten into the other Spideys- various Spidey people (?) show up from other universes and they each have their own specialties and animation style. Miles can turn invisible and electrocute people! A sad version of Peter Parker divorce and all shows up, voiced by Jake Johnson. And I don’t mean to badmouth Peter Parker, but seeing a Spidey that wasn’t Peter Parker per say, but a different Peter Parker as well as actually hearing Peter Parker speak openly about why being Spider-Man was both a curse and a blessing added more dimension to the character. It was incredibly refreshing.
And hilarious. Seriously. Genuine belly laughs, and I’m giving Spider-Man Noir’s meta-comic jokes 50% of the credit.
It is a completely new and different take on the comic book genre, idea of a superhero, as well as the techniques and visual expectations of animated works. It’s all one beautiful orchestration of sensory joy.
P.S. To those who thought Mary Jane’s voice was spot on- see, MJ can be played by a black woman. Shoutout to Zoe Kravitz!