‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ Changes Animation For The Better

Jack Julow, Writer

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With the Spider-Man now in his third live-action reboot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Amy Pascal, who heads all things Spider-related, has decided to use all of the property at Sony’s disposal. Outside of the critically-acclaimed cinematic universe, Pascal made projects that have earned over a billion dollars — most of which came from the box-office juggernaut — with one guaranteed to get the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Enter Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse as one of the best animated films ever made that does everything it can do perfectly, which is quite a feat against the animation master, Pixar.

 

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse tells the story of an unlikely superhero in the form of Miles Morales. Miles faces a new prep school that he does not care for, and he chooses to escape the dorm at night to hang out with Uncle Aaron. Uncle Aaron and Miles head underground and do some graffiti when Miles is unexpectedly bitten by a radioactive spider to be Spider-Man. However, there’s already another Spider-Man in his world. An inter-dimensional portal is opened by Kingpin, inadvertently sending multiple versions of Spider-Man into Miles’ world. Then, conflict ensues in traditional superhero format.

 

However, the animators behind the film flip every stereotypical trope on its head, while still also embracing the clichés. Miles does not look like a traditional hero. Miles is the son of an African-American police officer and Puerto Rican nurse, which shows a community often glossed over in comic-book movie material. Miles’ parents are very much alive, unlike Peter Parker’s parents, and it shows. Often, the main protagonists in these movies have lost someone dear to them in the form of a parent or loved one that then inspires them to fight crime. Look at Batman or at the most successful superhero movie series of all time — Marvel’s The Avengers. Of course, Miles sees tragedy, but he wants to do good regardless, which distinguishes Spider-Verse from its contemporary counterparts. Spider-Verse flips many of its tropes, but the reveals are best left seen in the theater, so I won’t spoil it.

 

Spider-Verse impressively utilizes the “Spider-Man” mythos to tell a story that’s familiar, but ultimately its own thing. The first five minutes seem like a quick summary of the original Sam Raimi film trilogy that both reminds you how amazing it was and notes its few embarrassments — namely the weirdly-comical jazz dance from Spider-Man 3 that received much criticism. Spider-Verse possesses a self-awareness often missing from many of these films that’s pleasant to watch. It also features some of the best animation I have ever seen in film. The combination of hand-drawn and CGI creates the feeling of reading through a comic book, but enables the action to feel real at the same time. There are countless visual flourishes that are included, which add style that is often missing in animation.

 

The voice performances by Shameik Moore (Miles Morales), Jake Johnson (Peter Parker), and Hailee Steinfeld (Gwen Stacy) are phenomenal. Voice acting is not the easiest thing to do as many believe, but the trio does a great job. Lily Tomlin, Nicholas Cage, John Mulaney, Mahershala Ali, and Brian Tyree Henry also provide voice work with some of best humor I’ve ever seen in a film. John Mulaney’s Peter Porker had me dying laughing whenever he was on screen.

 

Lastly, this film by producers Lord and Miller has the most heart I’ve seen in a film in a long time. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is currently playing in theaters.

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