“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” Review


Cassady Alberico, Staff Reporter

It is an understatement to say that Spider-Man has seen his fair share of origin stories. Since his inception in 1962, Peter Parker has been bitten by that same radioactive spider too many times to count. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse shakes up this trope by giving us the origin story of a relatively new protagonist: Miles Morales.

Morales is no new character to Spider-Man in the comic world, debuting in 2011, but Spider-Verse is his big screen debut. An Afro-Latino kid from Brooklyn, many view Morales as a fresh new take on the Wall Crawler.

This modern take on Spider-Man is Spider-Verse’s biggest success, giving us a relatable and modern protagonist. But for those older Spider-Fans, Spider-Verse has you covered. Following its complicated plot of interdimensional travel, Into the Spider-Verse gives us numerous Spider-People for everyone to love.

The first Spider-Man we meet is a 20-something Peter Parker, in the prime of his superhero career. He is practically perfect, full of purpose and motivational one liners. Later in the film, the middle aged Peter B. Parker gives an almost shocking portrayal of the “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man. This Parker is jaded, out of shape, and at odds with the reality of his situation. While easy to gloss over to the average viewer, this version of Peter Parker is so unlike what Spider-Man normally represents that I have to applaud the production team in taking such a huge risk.

Peter B. Parker fills in as a sort of mentor for Miles, and in typical movie trope, Parker begins to ‘rediscover himself’ while mentoring someone new. While I poke fun at their stereotypical dynamic, Morales and Parker’s relationship is comical and eventually heartwarming.

However, I have not arrived at this film’s central gimmick yet: The Spider-Verse, or the colliding of Spider-People from multiple dimensions. We meet a total of eight different Web-Heads throughout the story. While this number may seem scarce to some, it allows for a higher level of character development per Spider. My favorite among these is Gwen Stacy, a Spider-Woman from (you guessed it) an alternate dimension. Stacy is well established in the comics, but her superhero persona was new to film. Her background story is a novel take including familiar Spider-Man characters, and the resulting superhero is, to say to the least, hardcore.

Outside of the convoluted plot and characters, Spider-Verse also tackles a unique animation style. Someone in Sony Pictures Animation studio had the brilliant idea to make a movie look like a comic book and ran with it. To their credit, in certain scenes Spider-Verse does look like a comic book. Strong actions have drawn-on onomatopoeias and lines that really give the film a comic book feel. The film’s climactic scene is an explosion of color and sound. Even after my third viewing, I am still blown away by the next-level animation throughout Spider-Verse. I do not know a lot about animation, but I believe that this movie sets a new benchmark in visual effects, beating out juggernaut studios like Disney and Pixar. It’s just that good.

The soundtrack here also deserves attention. It feels very modern, with popular rap/R&B artists like Post Malone and Juice WRLD backing up Miles’ adventure. While fans expected an epic Spider-Man superhero movie, no one expected an amazing soundtrack to boot. Exceeding these expectations is what really sets Spider-Verse above the competition.

The most lacking element of Spider-Verse is its villains. The main baddie here is The Kingpin, a hulking billionaire with a believable motivation but boring personality. Avoiding spoilers, the other villains have interesting personalities but are never explored to their full depth. This is likely a result of the multiple Spider-Protagonists taking up screen time, but it is still disappointing.

After the successful merging of Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man is thriving. In the past two years he has had two solo films, Homecoming and now Spider-Verse, also starring in the star-studded Avengers: Infinity War. 2018 also saw the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man, a video game with cinematic storytelling by Insomniac Games. After such a busy schedule for Peter Parker, Spider-Verse is happy to let Miles Morales take the lead, without ever leaving old blood behind. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a celebration of 56 years of amazing storytelling, rewarding old fans with sly references and inviting new Web-Heads to join the fandom.