Alright. Let’s take it from the top.

Spider-Man is a comic book character created by writer Stan Lee and  artist Steve Ditko back in the 1960’s, appearing in Amazing Fantasy #15.  He later went on to become one of the flagship characters of comic  company Marvel, headlining multiple comic series, toy lines, television  series, foodstuffs (including an infamously crummy popsicle) and various  other marketing ventures.

Then, in 2002, Sony made headlines by creating a big-budget  blockbuster based on the character, which was massively successful. They  did it again, and it was another massive hit. Then, they made him  dance, and it killed the franchise. They tried it again in 2011, and it  worked. Then, they made him fight a Tesla ball played by Jamie Foxx. It  did not go well.

By this point, you’ve probably realized that I’ve not mentioned at  all what Spider-Man does, what his powers are, why he does what he does,  and even who the heck he is to begin with. That’s because you all know who Spider-Man is. Everybody does. Kid gets bitten by a spider, gets  super-powers, Uncle Ben bites it, “With great power”… to explain it  would be a redundant endeavor.

But, what if I told you that there was a Spider-Man story that could  make that idea, simple and ingrained in our public consciousness as it is, into something mind-blowingly profound?

The only answer to that question, friends, is to journey into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man Too: 2 Many Spider-Men

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (released December 14th  and directed by Peter Ramsey, Rob Persichetti Jr., and Rodney Rothman)  follows the journey of mild-mannered teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore),  as he initially struggles with his artistic aspirations and his stern  father’s (Brian Tyree Davis) expectations as Miles manages to land a  place in a top-tier preparatory school. However, it isn’t long until a  twist of fate leads Miles to develop strange powers overnight, and he is  forced to team up with a small fleet of Spider-People (and a pig voiced  by John Mullaney) from across the multiverse to stop the scheming  Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and claim his stake as the Spider-Man his world  doesn’t just deserve, but needs.

Image from IMDb

To put it bluntly, it is somewhat hard to describe this film’s plot  both without either sounding plainly incoherent or giving away massive  spoilers. It is another superhero origin story, and with that comes the  trappings of such. However, the spices that this film puts into that  story not only breathe new life into this tried and true formula, but  revolutionize it. Spider-Verse is actively aware of how  overdone its’ base narrative is, to the point of making it a key factor  of the plot. Miles is a legitimately endearing protagonist, and his  journey toward accepting his newfound role in life as a hero and a  person feels realistic and, most importantly, earned. The rest of the  cast more than earns their keep as well, with Jake Johnson as a “janky,  broke” version of Peter Parker who becomes a foil for Miles early on.  Also present is arguably one of the greatest Nicholas Cage roles put to  screen.

The only real flaw I have with the film’s story (outside of one or  two nitpicky missed opportunities) is that we don’t really get enough  time with the ancillary cast to really pay off in the finale. That isn’t  to say that we don’t get any time with some of these other characters  (especially the extended Spider-cast), but the characters on display are  so strong that you’re left wanting more. However, even with these  shortcomings, what you get is one of the strongest and most  inspirational superhero narratives put to screen this year. It’s utterly  astounding.

A helluva light show

…This film is a living comic book. 

Image from IMDb

There is no better way to describe the visual aesthetic of this film  than just saying that. Characters are animated with less fluidity and no  motion blur, textured with Ben-Day dots and smudges in the linework.  The backgrounds distort in shades of red and blue as they go further  back, making anything out of focus look almost like an out-of-sync 3D  movie. Text boxes for inner monologue, onomatopoeia and motion lines-  the film opens with a Comics Code Authority logo for cripes’ sake!  Despite what this may sound from description, these details (compounded  by a surprisingly versatile animation style) lead to one of the most  unique and beautiful animated films I have seen in my entire life. Be it  emotional moments (or some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen all  year), this style is consistent throughout the entire film, and gives  the overall piece a cohesive identity that cannot be mistaken.

Most major animated films released nowadays have taken an extreme  emphasis on “realism” in how everything looks and moves (most of the  modern Disney-Pixar catalogue is admittedly guilty of this), however Spider-Verse  completely rejects this line of thinking in favor of pushing everything  in its’ toolbox to its’ breaking point. Models frequently distort and  “glitch,” foreshadowing one of the most psychedelic climaxes I have ever  seen. It needs to be seen to be believed. 

Can he say that? Like, legally?

Image from IMDb

To say anything more of this film would be to rob the sheer surprise and spectacle that awaits around every corner of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  The story is spectacular, putting a fresh face (literally!) on both the  superhero origin story and on the concept of Spider-Man itself. The  animation is amazing, forgoing any sense of realism to bask in a  technicolor comic book landscape that perhaps feels more real than most  of the cape films released to date. The cast gives our heroes a  friendly, neighborhood quality to them that you can easily latch onto  and, ultimately, care for until the end credits roll.

The fact of the matter is that Into the Spider-Verse is one  of the greatest animated (let alone Spider-Man) films ever made. Go see  it. There are many films coming out this Christmas that say they are  events, but this IS one.  

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: IMDb

Graphic: Evan Williamson

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