When it comes to the idea of alternate realities, parallel universes, and opposite dimensions, there is perhaps no medium that does it better than comic books. Written by different people with different backgrounds and different ideas, it’s incredibly easy for one group of people to create a superhero who does things a certain way – but what if that same hero did things a slightly different way? What would happen? What could it possibly look like?
If you’ve ever wondered the answers to those questions, but were held back by the admittedly daunting prospect of diving into decades of comic book history, then fear no longer. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a succinct, creative, wildly funny superhero story that is quite literally for everyone, comic book veterans and newcomers alike.
The superhero in this case, as you might have guessed, is Spider-Man. He recently made news with his incredible PS4 debut, and if this film is any indication, that popularity is going to keep rising.
The film, despite dealing with multiple universes/dimensions/realities, is actually pretty straight forward. Thanks to one of the many rogues in Spidey’s colourful gallery, a portal opened in one of the various dimensions, bringing all the various Spider-Men into one reality. Young Miles Morales, our protagonist, is tasked with not only helping them all get back to their own universes, but also with coming to grips with his own new reality – that is, that he has been imbued with the power of Spider-Man.
If you boil it down, the coming-of-age story that Miles endures is pretty powerful stuff. Is it something we’ve seen before? Certainly – every superhero needs an origin story, after all. What makes it so fun is how Into The Spider-Verse frames it – Miles has to go through his origin story with every other Spider-Man watching him, criticizing him, and giving advice. That can’t be easy.
With any animated film, it’s important that the voice work is top notch. In most big budget films these days, it’s certain that that will be the case, but even so, it’s amazing when it all comes together so well. Into The Spider-Verse boasts an all-star roster: Jake Johnson, Chris Pine, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, and Liev Schreiber all have pretty major parts, and as the list itself suggests, they breathe life into their characters with an incredible degree of skill. Miles Morales, meanwhile, is animated (pun intended) by Shameik Moore, a relative newcomer who crushes the ball out of the park.
Speaking of animation, this film is visually amazing. It combines traditional 2D animation with modern 3D renderings, and it absolutely pops off the screen. It blends having dialogue appear on the screen to emphasize thoughts vs. spoken words, while also managing to look like it was taken off the page of a comic book and placed on-screen. Perhaps that’s not a surprise: the film’s producers, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, have done this before, with Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and The LEGO Movie, both of which have unique animation styles themselves. The direction cannot be understated, and I hope that despite Miller and Lord’s involvement, that the work of directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay, and Rodney Rothman (yes, there are three) does not go unnoticed.
Truly, not only does this film deserve your time, it deserves wider recognition, going (one can only hope) all the way to the 91st Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature award. It’s definitely my pick.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is not just a terrific comic book movie, but it’s an amazing film, period. It combines humour with a coming-of-age story, action with a father-son relationship, and it does it all by showcasing a fresh look at animation – truly, a look at how animated films can be different going forward past 2018.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arrives in theatres across North America on December 14, 2018.
You can find Sho on Twitter at @SNSAlli where he talks about Spider-Man and all kinds of other things – like video games and sports. Those are pretty sweet, right? Of course they are, so check him out.