After seeing the first trailer for this film, I determined that it had a ton of potential. The concept was interesting and there was a lot of room to do cool things with it. Furthermore, the involvement of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller was comforting (these are the guys that did Clone High and The Lego Movie). It was Lord and Miller (in their role as producers) that pushed for the film to have its own unique art-style by combining computer animation and hand-drawn comic book techniques. It reminds me of how Lord and Miller pushed for a realistic Lego look and feel in The Lego Movie which paid off in spades. And their efforts pay off here as well. Into the Spider-Verse is visually stunning and beyond stylish. Through its art-style alone the film manages to make itself distinct from every other comic book film ever.
Phil Lord wrote the story for the film and the screenplay duties were split between him and Rodney Rothham (one of the film’s 3 directors). There are plenty of Lord-and-Miller-isms to be found throughout the film, especially when it comes to the jokes and how situations tend to play out in a comedic fashion. Another thing that makes this particular Spider-Man film stand-out is the fact that Miles Morales is the main protagonist. A brilliant choice since it is a character that most of us aren’t intimately familiar with, in the same way that we are familiar with the Peter Parker Spider-Man.
While Fisk is the main antagonist of the film, the film mostly focuses on the relationship between the different Spider-Man’s (Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham, Peni Parker and SP//drm, Spider-Woman, Peter B. Parker Spider-Man and Miles Morales Spider-Man). The main driving force behind the plot is how all of the other Spider-People doubt Miles’ ability to perform as Spider-Man. The entire film is essentially Miles’ journey to become Spider-Man and accept himself for who he is. Going back to Fisk though, I think the film did a pass-able job at giving him a sympathetic motivation even though we are supposed to disagree with his actions.
I liked how Miles’ uncle was the Prowler, Fisk’s enforcer. I wasn’t aware of this fact going into the movie because, like most people, I am not entirely aware of the character of Miles Morales and his personal relationships. Either way, the film executed this relationship well by making us feel the trust that Miles has in his uncle. However, when Miles gets seen by the Prowler later on in Miles’ uncle’s apartment, we being to expect that the Prowler is Miles’ uncle. Especially since the shadow of the Prowler approaching the door looks very much like Miles’ uncle. Later on, Miles takes off his Spider-Man mask to reveal his identity to the Prowler and his uncle hesitates to kill him. Fisk shoots the Prowler dead. A moment with a great build-up and pay-off.
If you read my review of the character posters for this film, you already know that I really liked all of the different Spider-People here. Each of the Spider-People are entirely distinct in both personality and style with a few of them having their own entire art-style. While Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker are all distinct and cool to look at, their actual characters are barely fleshed out. Instead, the most focus was on the relationship between Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker as his mentor, with Gwen Stacy being another important piece of the puzzle but slightly less important.
I really enjoyed this version of Peter B. Parker. In his own universe, Peter B. Parker was married to Mary Jane but they divorced and Peter eventually got fat and a bit apathetic. When Fisk uses his particle accelerator, Peter is transported into Miles’ universe. He finds Miles and reluctantly agrees to be his mentor. He is a completely incompetent teacher although he ends up helping Miles to finally truly BECOME Spider-Man.
There is a female version of Doctor Octopus as well who is a scientist working for Kingpin. It was entirely unexpected (at least to me) that she was Doc Ock since we had seen her in the film a few times leading up to the reveal, with little to no information that stood out as being definitive proof that she was Doc Ock (unless I missed a part that revealed her last name as Octavius prior to the reveal). I enjoy race/gender/identity twists like this because it allows the plot to takes us by surprise as a result of our expectations.
Like I mentioned earlier, the film is hilarious. The scene where Peter and Miles have broken into Octavius’s office and are hacking into her computer is one of the funniest scenes I have seen all year. There is another scene not too long after Miles is bitten by the spider where he is uncontrollably sticking to things. He disrupts the order in his school through a series of unfortunate events. He is then confronted by the school’s security guard who says something along the lines of “I know you snuck out last night Morales” and the Spider voices in Miles’ head tell him to play stupid. So he respond “Who’s Morales?”. Very Lord and Miller.
Which brings me to the post-credits scene. It is essentially the Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man meme based on the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon. But it is very well-written and absolutely hilarious. I couldn’t stress enough that this is the PERFECT way to end such a spectacular adaptation of Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is by far the best Spider-Man adaptation of the year. It is incredibly stylish, well-written, absolutely hilarious, and the Miles Morales Spider-Man is a great change of pace to all of the Peter Parker adaptations. I strongly recommend seeing this one on the big screen because it’s art-style is fantastic and deserves to be seen up close. If there are sequels to come, I hope that Lord and Miller continue to be involved as their involvement is like a big stamp of approval to me.
7/10 – Good