I didn’t think it was possible, but it happened: Sony made a fantastic Spider-Man movie.
Sony first teased Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse last December, an entire year before the movie was set to hit theaters. The animated flick was going to turn the Spider-Man movie lore on its head and bypass Peter Parker as its protagonist and instead focus on Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a character first introduced to comics in 2011.
A year later, the movie is hitting theaters and it is an utter triumph for not just animated movies, but for movies in general.
In case you are unfamiliar with Miles Morales, the movies does a great job of filling audiences in: he is a half-African American, half-Puerto Rican teenager living in Brooklyn, New York, who is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains special abilities like Peter Parker. Where Into the Spider-Verse does things differently is when it brings multiple Spider-people into the fold, adding a dimension unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a comic book movie.
Without getting into spoilers, I won’t say how they come into being, but besides Miles, there are five additional Spider-people: Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage) and Peni Parker (Kamiko Glenn).
Together they mentor young Miles to becoming the dynamic Spider-Man he is meant to be. They also team to battle Wilson Fisk and his group of baddies, which includes a gigantic Green Goblin and the menacing Prowler. But make no mistake, this is Miles’ movie.
The relationship between the Spider-people is the best part of the movie, partly because the voice acting is so great. There is a warmth that provides plenty of laughs, but also a strong foundation from which Miles can explore his struggles and fears of being Spider-Man. It’s complicated being a superhero, but more so for a teenager.
Helmed by a strong script from Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, the multidimensional story directed by the trio of Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman never becomes too convoluted. In fact, it opens up to levels few other superheroes have ever reached thanks in part due to the freedom animation brings. There’s just some stuff live-action cannot replicate but in the limitless world of animation, the imagination can run wild and Into the Spider-Verse takes advantage of this.
It uses a mix of classic 2D with 3D while sprinkling in stylized comic book inspired finishes for a visually striking movie. Seriously, you’ll be left with oohs and ahs as you see Spider-Man swinging through the New York skyline in his makeshift costume and classic Jordans.
I haven’t come away thoroughly enthralled by a movie like this in a while. It felt fresh and new and like something I have never seen before. It left me wanting to see it again, which I’m definitely going to do.
Though I’m a big fan of the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is easily the best Spider-Man movie I’ve ever seen.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on December 14.