Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Jacob Richardson | 12/12/2018
A cartoon version of Spider-Man might seem polarising to audiences, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse eschews the ‘just for kids’ stigma with a radical new animation style, and a well thought out, intensely comedic and ultimately uplifting story that will leave kids and adults alike cheering.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse spins the tale of teen (read angst-ridden youth searching for his space in his world) Brooklynite, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), selected into the elite “Visions Academy”. Miles, a bi-lingual honours student with a Black American and Puerto Rican background, struggles under the weight of expectations placed upon him. His desire to be a great son, an excellent student, and traverse the tricky pathway of adolescent friendship at a new school sees him start to walk the, oft-trod-under-pressure, rebellion path. Breaking curfew to visit his Uncle, Miles is lured into a world where good and evil battle and from which Miles consistently tries to return to his “norm”. The typical antihero!
Bitten by a radioactive robot spider while partaking in nefarious pursuits with his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), Miles begins to develop his particular unique spider characteristics. In an effort to comprehend what is happening to him, Miles returns to the scene of the “spider” bite and finds the culprit at the same time as the true villain of the piece is introduced …. The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). Kingpin has created a giant machine that can traverse the multi-dimensions of alternate Universes and the original Spider-Man is battling to keep that machine from destroying the current universe. With Miles secretly watching the battle rage, Spider-Man “spidey” senses alert him to Mile’s presence and the realisation that Miles is just like him. Unfortunately, Miles new abilities are not yet fully formed … he’s gotta walk before he can run … and Miles ends up helplessly watching Kingpin kill Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Chris Pine). Spider-Man has successfully stopped the use of the Multi-verse machine but not before an alternate Peter Parker/Spider-Man has been dropped into the current universe.
And what a laugh the alternate Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Jake Johnson, New Girl) is! Alternate Spider-Man has human foibles galore, including an unhealthy addiction to pizza, beer and television and a very sad divorce from his wife MJ Watson (Zoe Kravitz). Under duress, Alternate Spider-Man teams up with Miles to help him learn how to utilise his new powers and when they both realise that Alternate Spider-Man has arrived through King Pin’s Multi-verse machine, Miles agrees to help Alternate Spider-Man get back to his alternate reality and destroy the machine.
Before too long, more alternate Spider characters from other alternate universes are introduced to join the mission including Spider Gwen (Hailee Steinfield), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Peni Parker Anime Girl (Kimiko Glenn). And from there the mayhem starts including nods to Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), and various other Marvel baddies such as the Growler, The Green Goblin, The Scorpion, Tombstone and the Chameleon.
As early as 2014, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street) in conjunction with Sony, wanted to rejuvenate the Spider-Man franchise utilising the yet to be filmed, Miles Morales story. Lord and Miller wanted the film to feel like “you walked inside a comic book” and it took 12 months of trial and error before they decided the exact format that would do justice to the story. Reality was not the concept that could achieve their goal. Even with the CGI, this totally revolutionary style saw the largest number of animators ever to work on an animated film … and boy does it show. An absolute kaleidoscope of colour ends the film and leaves us with the ultimate wrap up of the storyline … that we all have our own unique talents and once we start on that journey of self-discovery, it’s a never-ending process of learning to utilise those talents to better serve humanity.
The voice cast is excellent, and in particular some of the more ridiculous Multi-verse supporting characters are absolutely hilarious. Nic Cage’s intensely noir Spider-detective delivers 50’s era dialogue with such wanton abandon that you will be consistently laughing, and for the kids (and the kid inside all of us adults), John Mulaney’s Looney Tunes-esque Spider-Ham will have you cackling away.
Exploring diversity in all its transformational forms, this animated comedy cleverly utilises a brand new style of animation to reveal a powerful message; that what makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man, and that all of us can be as powerful as Spider-Man.
A fun new take on animation, with an enthralling story that makes you feel, cry and laugh.