Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a popular New York teenager who’s recently been transferred from a public school to a prep school. He’s a gifted artist who enjoys spraying graffiti with his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), much to the disappointment of his police officer dad (Brian Tyree Henry). One night, while putting up an impressive bit of art in a hidden section of the subway system, Miles is bitten by a spider and wakes up the next day with crazy powers: he’s strong, agile, sticks to things, can turn invisible, and can create an electric shock. Scared and unable to control his powers, Miles returns to the scene of the spider bite and uncovers a battle between Spider-Man (Chris Pine) and The King Pin (Liev Schrieber) and his cronies as King Pin activates a Hadron Collider to look into another universe. Spider-man is killed in the battle!
In the wake of the city’s hero’s dead, Miles decides to use his powers to become the new Spider-Man to fulfill the promise he made the original before he died: destroy King Pin’s machine before it’s activated again. Miles encounters a handful of Spider-men from other universes who’ve been transported here by the collider including an older, more sinister version of Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), a version of Gwen Stacey with spider-powers (Hailee Steinfeld), an anime girl and her spider-bot (Kimiko Glenn), a cartoon pig called Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and a black-and-white Spider-man Noir (Nicolas Cage).
Together, the Spider-people (and pig) from other universes work together to help Miles get a handle on his powers, combat King Pin’s cronies, get back to their respective universes, and shut down the collider before it causes all the universes to collide (which would destroy the entire multi-verse).
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fun animated feature that the entire family can enjoy! It’s got great action scenes, laugh out loud moments for both children and adults, huge set pieces, a great story filled with emotions and intrigue, and a final battle too epic to believe without seeing it. I kind of wish this had been live-action, but let’s face it – that would have been too much for any studio to deal with.
The script is masterful. Despite King Pin’s lack of caring that he’s about to destroy the multi-verse, you actually empathize with him upon learning his motivations. The story that stems from his motivations would actually make a great one-shot sci-fi movie on its own and didn’t really need to be a Spider-Man movie. It also makes me wonder if the decision to make this great script by Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) and Rodney Rothman (22 Jump Street, Grudge Match) into a Spider-Man movie was possibly made later on (sort of how Cloverfield Paradox originally was just a sci-fi movie that later got tweaked to become a Cloverfield franchise film).
The cast brought a lot of star power, even in some of the more minor roles like Zoe Kravits as Mary Jane, Nic Cage as Spider-Man Noir, and even Oscar Isaac lending his voice to “Interesting Person #1”. In many cases, the acting is spot-on like with Miles Morales and the other Spider-Man iterations. However, King Pin and Miles’ Dad were miscast… King Pin never really sounded menacing at all (his voice never matching his intimidating stature) and the dad had great moments of humor but lacked in the more emotional scenes. Those parts could have been cast a little better… but everyone else did great!
The star of the show here was the animation. Most of the film had a look somewhere between hand drawn and computer generated. As I’ve stated, several characters come from other universes and as such they were given slightly different styles of animation to further differentiate them from one another. Like Peni Parker and her robot being anime and Peter Porker being drawn in an old Looney Toons fashion. The final climactic battle was straight up epic and something of a crowning achievement of animation talent and imagination.
And to show respect, the entire audience at the screening I attended fell into a hushed state of grief when Stan Lee (who just passed away a couple weeks ago) made his token appearance. R.I.P. to comic royalty!
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse may not be the best Spider-Man movie (I still give that distinction to Spider-Man 2), but it’s certainly one of the best! It had a few problems, but they were few and far between. Overall, this animated Spider-Man was an enjoyable experience that focused as much on giving a heart-felt story as it did on giving us stunning visuals and epic spider-action. Fans and families will not be disappointed.