Spider-Man Into the Spider Verse isn’t just the best animated film I’ve seen in awhile. It’s the best film. The movie manages to achieve the impossible task introducing Miles Morales to the larger world, avoiding him being overshadowed by the other heroes in the film, show us an older Peter Parker that’s as lovable as any other version we’ve seen….and reaffirm everything that is special about Spider Man as a character. The message of this movie, that family is what gives us strength, people have to confront their problems not run from them, and being a good person matters it everything this world needs right now.
I’ve been a Miles Morales fan since his creation by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli and feared that no film, animated or otherwise could successfully convey what makes Miles special. Miles is a 21st century Afro-Latino teenager, brilliant and kind, while simultaneously being as awkward as any other teenager. He has a kindness and a sense of naïveté that Peter Parker never possessed. Where Peter’s primary relationship is with his Aunt May and Mary Jane, Miles has a complicated relationship with his Dad, an equally complicated relationship with his uncle Aaron, and a loving relationship with his Mother. Into Spider Verse manages to juggle all of these relationships and give Miles his own version of “with great power come great responsibility.”
One of the criticisms of Marvel’s depiction of Spider-Man had been their unwillingness to allow him to age. Originally comic book fans saw Peter age from high school, to college student, post grad and eventually as a married man. Then the growth stopped. Dan Slott’s One New Day storyline ended Peter’s marriage and some fans complained that this limited the character. Give credit to the creators of Into the Spider-Verse for taping into this I’m giving us a older Peter Parker as a mentor to Miles. The Peter Parker we see has been through some rough times, but still is the same guy we have always cheered on. The perfect Obi-won to Miles “Luke Skywalker.”
The success of any superhero film is in part dependent on the quality of the villain, and Into The Spider Verse succeeds here as well. The Kingpin’s use of the quantum collider as means of finding alternate universe versions of his family makes the character almost as sympathetic as his depiction in Daredevil. I don’t want to spoil the other villains, but it’s nice to see some less often used Spider-Man villains.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Spider-Gwen/Spider-Woman and the rest of the Spider people…and robots….and the anthropomorphic pig. Gwen Stacy as Spider Woman is another of Marvel’s recent comic book creations and as with Miles Into the Spider Verse shows why. Gwen’s character arc is limited in the film but she steals every scene she’s in. It’s reported that Sony is looking at doing a spin-off featuring Gwen, and based off her depiction in Into the Spider-Verse it’s easy to see why. Spider-Ham and Penni Parker, pilot of the Spider robot, are both endearing but Nicolas Cage as Spider Noir is a masterstroke.
With revolutionary visuals, a great story, great voice casting, and a solid soundtrack Spider-Man Into the Spider Verse can legitimately lay a claim to best movie of the year. Just as importantly the film has a lot to say about family, about never giving up, and trying to be a good person really is all matters. Those have always been the quintessential parts of any great Spider-Man story, which this most definitely is.