By Sam Bussell
Peter Parker has graced audiences on all formats as Spider-Man for decades, from the comics in the 60’s to TV shows in the 90 ’s and then finally to the big screen; Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire being the first to cinematically bring the web-slinger to life in 2001. When audiences think about Spider-Man many think of Peter Parker and no one else, but as ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ explains, there is more than just one person behind the mask. Que in Miles Morales.
Morales is your average kid from Brooklyn; he is just trying to get by and juggle his school work along with his passion for art as well as cope with his tumultuous relationship with his father. But all this changes once he is bitten by a spider and gain superhuman-like abilities. Once he acquires these powers, Miles stumbles onto a laboratory that is run by Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin. He has acquired a device that opens up portals to other dimensions, at which point he runs into the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man, thus marking the beginning of their journey.
First off, this movie, in my opinion, is the best origin story in recent years. Yes, origin stories have become absolute over time due to rehashing the tropes over and over again. However, what directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman do differently is tell a story with different iterations of characters. The best example being the portrayal of Peter Parker. This is a much older Peter who is tired of being Spider-Man. When he is sucked into a universe that isn’t his own he must remember what once made him a hero, and find his way back home while guiding Miles through the same hardships he once endured. He acts as a mentor to Miles, molding him to become the Spider-Man of his dimension. This relationship acts as one of the biggest highlights of the entire film. Voiced by Jake Johnson and Shameik Moore, both Peter and Miles have tremendous chemistry that shines in every scene that they are in together. The brotherly relationship between the two has a great dynamic with both comedic aspects as well as heartwarming elements. Furthermore, seeing Peter as someone who is broken helps add an extra layer to his character. It allows the creators to bring new life into a protagonist that has been done numerous times, giving the same amount of intrigue to the character as previous iterations of Spider-Man.
Regarding the cast, the rest of the characters are pleasant additions to the film, with the main focus being put on the additional Spider-Men that are brought into Miles universe. This includes Spider-Gwen (played by Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), as well as Peni Parker and Spider-Ham. One thing that I believe the creators succeeded in is forming a group of outsiders whose commonality are one and the same. The characters begin their stories alone, but by the end of the film, they come to the realization that there are others like them that share the same fate. This bond helps to strengthen the group as a whole, as they rely on each other to get back home. In my mind, probably the biggest standout comes from the main villain in the form of Wilson Fisk who is voiced by Liev Schreiber. Instead of just portraying him as a brute force of strengths, the creative team makes the adversary a dynamic character with depth and emotion. This gives insight as to why the Kingpin undertakes his villainous acts in the first place.
An additional highlight of the film, and what truly makes it a stand alone among the Spider-Man franchise, is the animation. For me, watching the trailers piqued my interest due to the spectacular animation. After seeing the full film, I can say that without a doubt the animation is out of this world incredible. It pulls you in immediately, making you feel like you are right in the pages of a comic book. It’s a mixture of stop-motion alongside computer animation; Sony Animation used a record 140 animators, the biggest crew used on a Sony Picture, and without a doubt, it paid off.
After watching this movie, I can tell that this film was made by people who not only respect the lore of Spider-Man but love it. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who both wrote and produced this movie, brought so many elements that have made superhero films different in the past decade. This movie gives all elements of the progress that Marvel has made, including fourth wall breaking and complex villains. In the end, what this film truly accomplishes is ushering in a new era of Spider-Man; it breathes fresh air into a timeless franchise starring your average Brooklyn kid, proving that just about anyone can be a superhero.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings its way into theaters December 14th