“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” A New and Refreshing Take on Spider-Man
by Jazmin Viayra
Spider-Man is a character that has had many movie reboots in the past decade. There are now four different Spider-Man movie renditions including Tobey Maguire in “Spider-Man”, Andrew Garfield in “The Amazing Spider-Man”, Tom Holland in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and now an animated version, voiced by Shameik Moore in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”. Amazingly, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” manages to give audiences a new Spider-Man movie that feels unique yet keeps the heart of the famous Marvel superhero.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” debuted in theatres December 14, 2018. The movie centers around a young high schooler named Miles Morales (voiced by Moore) who, like Spider-Men of the past, is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains new powers. In order to understand what has happened to him, he travels to the spot where he was bitten and comes across Spider-Man (voiced by Chris Pine), the version that exists in his universe, fighting a villain named Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber). Spider-Man is pummeled repeatedly, which leads to Miles promising him that he will stop Kingpin’s destructive parallel universe machine. Spider-Man succumbs to his injuries and a young Miles feels the weight of his responsibility of being the new Spider-Man.
Miles is a refreshing new addition to the line of Spider-Men. His half-black and half-Puerto Rican background adds to the core takeaway of the movie: anyone can be Spider-Man. Miles is artistic, charismatic, and an enjoyable character to watch. The audience sympathizes with the issues he faces in his personal life, most of which are further complicated by his new role as Spider-Man. The movie does a fantastic job of fleshing out his character.
The other characters in the film are also noteworthy. Due to Kingpin’s multidimensional machine, Spider-Men from other dimensions are pulled into Miles’s world. These characters include Spider-Man Noir (voiced by Nicolas Cage), Spider-Ham (voiced by John Mulaney), Peni Parker (voiced by Kimiko Glenn), Spider-Woman/ Gwendolyn Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld), and Spider-Man/Peter B. Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson). Each one’s background is introduced in the same way, however, it is done quickly and comedically. While these characters’ backstories are interesting, it never takes away from Miles, who remains the main focus. Peter B. Parker, the original and older version of Spider-Man from another dimension, is the other main character in the movie. His character is a forty year old version of Spider-Man that hasn’t been seen in previous movies, but is a welcome change from the typically boyish, inexperienced characterization of Spider-Man that audiences are used to. Peter B. Parker is an unlikely teacher to Miles and the dynamic between them fits perfectly with both of their character developments. Aside from the Spider-Men, the movie has returning characters such as Aunt May (voiced by Lily Tomlin) and Mary Jane (voiced by Zoë Kravitz). Again, each one has the right amount of screen time and adds to the fun and complexity of the story.
There are several villains in the film. The main one is Kingpin, one of the only downsides of the movie. His goofy character design makes him look like a much larger version of felonious Gru from “Despicable Me,” making him difficult to take seriously even as he commits evil actions. His backstory is provided, but wasn’t fleshed out enough. Even though the movie had to present so many brief backstories, Kingpin’s story deserves more attention since he is the main villain. This would have helped make him a more layered character. The actually menacing villain is the Prowler (voiced by Mahershala Ali). As his name suggests, he stalks and chases Miles, leading to some chilling scenes. Other popular Spider-Man villains that make an appearance are Alchemax, the Green Goblin (voiced by Jorma Taccone), Doctor Ock (voiced by Kathryn Hahn), Scorpion (voiced by Joaquín Cosío), and Tombstone (voiced by Marvin Jones III).
The animation in this film is gorgeous. The bright colors mixed with the comic book style is visually stunning. The fight scenes in particular are incredibly engaging. The design of Miles’s superhero costume and the shots of New York city are beautifully animated. Miles’s thought bubbles were a great comedic addition to the movie as they helped add to his experience of spidey senses. It is clear that they put in a lot of effort to make the film look incredouble. The soundtrack, with its mixture of rap, spanish music, and intense instrumental music adds to the characterization of Miles and world building, and makes the fight scenes even more captivating.
Most importantly, this movie manages to capture the core of Spider-Man. Through Miles, we understand the immense responsibility that being a hero entails. He, like the other Spider-Man characters in the film, goes through many hardships and sacrifices. What separates them from the average citizen, however, isn’t just their spidey senses but their ability to get back up when life pushes them down and that they always choose to do the right thing even at their expense.
Overall, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a film that takes risks and succeeds in giving audiences a compelling story with enthralling characters, while effectively doling out Spider-Man’s greatest moral: anyone can be a hero.