Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated film following Miles Morales as he comes to terms with his new powers and comes face to face with different Spider-People from alternate dimensions. Together these multidimensional beings must unite to put an end to a threat to all realities. Into the Spider-Verse boasts an intriguing plot, fantastic characters, an amazing art style and a soundtrack that generated an incredible amount of hype. A hype that it more than lives up to.
This film follows Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore, Dope), a character well known to comic book fans as the second major coming of Spider-Man in the Marvel Comicbook Universe. Into the Spider-Verse starts with Miles having no powers, but much like Peter Parker he is bitten by the same genetically modified spider which in turn gives him the same powers. After several shenanigans a portal is opened to various dimensions by Wilson Fisk (voiced by Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovan) which pulls different Spider-Men from different dimensions, all of which you can see in the trailer.
The story follows Miles as he comes to terms with his powers, and through the help of a much older Peter B. Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson, New Girl), Miles does so and learns what it takes to be a hero. What this film does fantastically is that beat for beat it is a Spider-Man story and by its nature is very grounded (despite the multidimensional McGuffin). At the end of the day the story is about Miles rising to the new responsibility that has been placed on him, meeting the expectations he has in his head, and trying to prove he deserves to carry the moniker just as equally as those from the alternate dimensions.
The way that the various characters are identified is fantastic. The film starts by introducing Peter Parker (voiced by Chris Pine, Wonder Woman) who says that you know the story already; he then blasts through his origin and we are into the movie. Crucially however, he states that he is in his mid-twenties, which is important when the universes start to merge, and we are introduced to Peter B. Parker who is an older version of Spider-Man whose life has gone wrong. He has gotten fat, his job sucks and Mary-Jane has left him. The relationship between this Spider-Man and Miles is crucial, as one is filled with optimism and the want to do good, and the other is fed up and does it because he has nothing good left in his life. The characterisation between the two and their growth as characters over the movie rests on this base.
Other characters such as Spider-Gwen (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, Pitch Perfect Series) make an appearance as well and they all get an introduction similar in style to Peter Parker. We see what loss they suffered, what their skills are, and we get a flavour of their personalities. But most importantly they show why they choose to fight and risk their lives for ordinary people. For Spider-Man Noir (voiced by Nicholas Cage, National Treasure) the reason to fight is because he lost his girlfriend and he believes it is right to try and stop others from suffering the same loss; a theme that carries through all incarnations of Spider-Man.
The art of this film is amazing and is hard to describe. The art direction is fascinating because rather than being used simply to act as a gimmick it helps to further the emotions and the feeling of the characters as well as define them within their own universes. Each characters art is slightly different and mirrors their comic book versions as well.
An example of this is when Miles is first getting to grips with his new senses the world is seen kind of like an old 3-D movie. There are the objects themselves but then surrounding them are red and blue lines that add an odd effect that gave me the feeling of disorientation; the same feeling that Miles must have been experiencing. Furthermore, when Miles is putting up a tag with his uncle the way that the paints hit the lens of the “camera” and the way that Miles moves portrays the joy he feels when doing it and shows the break from the stress he feels at school.
I mentioned that the art changes with each character earlier, which it does. When we are being introduced to the character in their little introduction where they give their backstory each world is different and mirrors the art of the famous artists who have illustrated them in their comics. Gwen Stacy has that water colour paint aesthetic in her own world with colours being intentionally drawn out so they fade into others. Similarly, Peter Porker the Spider-Pig has a cartoony world to go back to and his actions while in Miles’ world are equally cartoonish; including using a big mallet to hit someone. All of this helps to define the way that characters move and the worlds that they come from. In a very subtle way the art is used to help us understand the backgrounds of each character, and the emotions that they are feeling too.
The music in this music is fantastic as well. Much in the same way the art conveys the emotions of the characters the music does the same. Throughout Into the Spider-Verse the music constantly meets the beats and portrays the excitement, terror, joy and heartache of Miles and other characters as they do everything. While most movies soundtracks are blatantly obvious with what they are trying to convey this one is a bit subtler. There were times where I was wondering whether the fast-paced hip-hop music that was playing while Miles was learning to swing was displaying excitement or fear, and this questioning is I think what they were trying to portray. Miles himself doesn’t know whether to be excited that he is swinging or terrified as it could go wrong so quickly.
Into the Spider-Verse grabs you from the first minute and doesn’t let go. Constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat with its action while also keeping you emotionally engaged through the amazing art-style, soundtrack, voice acting, and characterisations, this movie is a must see for anyone who has even a passing interest in Spider-Man or comics.