Boy, am I late to this particular party. If you are also late, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a 2018 animated movie following Miles Morales’ rise as spider-man. The movie follows Miles as he attends private school, much to his dismay, and struggles with his identity and fitting in. He is bitten by a spider and stumbles across a plot involving famous villain Kingpin and watching his universe’s spider-man die. He is torn between not knowing how to be spider-man and feeling he needs to honor the legacy since he has the powers. In comes several other spider-people, including Peter. B. Parker, a broken down older spider-man who is actually on the verge of giving up.
The movie received a lot of praise, and in finally watching it, I completely understand why. Technically speaking, it’s pretty fantastic. The animation style is gorgeous, and most of the movie looks impeccable. A few moments made me a little “eh” on the animation style, but by and large, I enjoyed it. The voice acting was phenomenal with a fantastic cast and just perfectly delivered performances. It was also willing to lean in. Spider-Noir is voiced by Nic Cage, and there was undoubtedly a feeling of “we need some Nic Cage hamming it up” at times. However, none of this overtook the baseline characters.
In fact, overall, this is part of the movie’s appeal. It did an exceptional job of balancing itself. It was not afraid to go hard with emotional impact but then would not sit too long before bringing back joy and excitement. This is a kid’s movie, and it is important to manage those emotions. At the same time, though, it was not unlike Don Bluth movies of the past, while it would pull back on the more emotional moments, they didn’t completely disappear or be swept under the rug as kid’s movies are sometimes wont to do.
This balancing act became important to really the entire movie and was done successfully in most cases. There were a few moments, traits, etc., that I would have liked to see further developed, but it really landed well overall. And not just for a kid’s movie (although I will admit to having different standards when looking at kid’s movies than not).
Really the story is where it shines. This movie is not that much different from a lot of first superhero movies. Miles struggles with wanting to be spider-man but not really being it yet and his lack of faith in himself. The addition of the other spider-people is what really changes things overall. They all are in a unique position to understand exactly what Miles is feeling, which in turn helps this movie to speak to the audience differently. This movie is not about a hero being alone; he very much isn’t. They all understand the pain of losing someone they love and feeling like they couldn’t protect them. They all understand the difficulty in learning to be spider-man, and while they don’t believe in him yet, they do believe that Miles will eventually get there and are proud of him when he does. They all understand Miles, and in turn, it gives the message of the inner hero in all of us a slightly bigger push. It is a bit cheesy, but it’s also a positive message for kids, and I think it’s great.
It is not that the message or plot is particularly unique, but rather they found a way to add just enough different elements to make it feel fresh and sort of add something to said message.
The soundtrack is also amazing and incredibly well used. There are a lot of moments that effectively use the music to help make the impact even greater or even help bring people back down from an intense moment. Again, balance.
Bottom line, it is honestly one of the better comic book movies I have seen lately. I have major superhero fatigue, but this one did not disappoint. If you have kids, I would recommend it for them, although a few moments are a bit dark depending on the kids’ age and general exposure to certain media. As an adult nerd, honestly, don’t continue the mistake I made and get on it if you haven’t already. If you don’t overly care for comic book movies and don’t have kids to watch it with… probably not for you. Really though it’s a charming movie overall. The message is good, the story is entertaining, it is both funny and sad while overall hopeful. Frankly, we could probably all use a bit more of things like this in our lives right now.