“That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” This quote, featured at the end of this film from the late, great Stan Lee, perfectly encompasses the beautiful message within Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse…
Anyone can wear the mask.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brings audiences into the world of Miles Morales -- a comic book character that was created in 2011 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, and this film marked his first foray into the cinematic world.
If there’s one thing that Into The Spider-Verse wants you to understand right off the bat, it’s that they know you're fully aware of the iconic web-slinger’s backstory. I mean, there’s been three different cinematic Spidey’s over the years, so we’ve had plenty of time to become acquainted with him. This self-awareness, definitely brought to the table by screenwriter and The LEGO Movie helmer Phil Lord, adds to the light-hearted tone of this film and almost acts as a reset for the Spider-Verse we know already. They’re ready to freshen up the scene, and they do it with relish.
From the opening scenes showcasing a vast, vibrant, pop art-styled Brooklyn to the four walls of Miles’ room, you’ll be in awe of the incredible detail and the film’s literal comic-book-brought-to-life animation. Much like Peter Parker, Miles (played by Dope star Shameik Moore) is incredibly intelligent, but also has a keen eye for art – something his dad (Brian Tyree Henry), who’s a cop, doesn’t agree with when it comes to his graffiti. Even though he and his father don’t agree on some things, the love is still strong and very much there. When they’re not in agreeance, Miles finds comfort in his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who encourages him to embrace his talents and pursue his creative side despite what his father believes.
When uncle Aaron finds Miles a blank wall down in the subway to spray paint, a radioactive spider bites him on the hand, and soon he begins to feel the same symptoms felt by Peter Parker all those years ago. What’s great about this scene is how nonchalantly it’s played out. It’s delivered in a way to say, “hey, this could have happened to literally anyone.” As Miles’ Spidey senses kick in, he returns to the scene of the bite only to discover Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) attempting to open a portal to another dimension – which introduces us to even more Spider-People from the Marvel multiverse.
We have Peter Parker’s Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), a Spider-Man from the 1920s and 1930s known as Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), an anime version of Spidey known as Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and a looney tunes-esque pig named Spider-Ham (voiced to literal perfection by John Mulaney). Together, this motley crew comes together to bring down Kingpin and return to their respective dimensions before it’s too late.
With witty storytelling, lovable characters, and some solid laugh-out-loud moments, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fresh and exciting take on the familiar narrative of Marvel’s favorite web-slinger. Its bright, bubbly, comic book style also adds an extra layer of personality atop Miles' already wonderful origin story. I can’t wait to see more of him and all of the other Spider-People (Spider-Beings? Sorry, Spider-Ham...) down the road!