The thing I hate about superhero movies is the origin story. After a multitude of Spider-Man stories, do we really need another retelling of his origin? That’s the first — of many — things that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does right. Much like how Grant Morrison retold Superman’s beginnings in one page in All-Star Superman, this movie tells you everything you need to know within one minute and goes right into the action. It expects you to know the expected, but then once it makes you feel comfortable, it tears the rug out from under you.
Here’s the low down for those of you that don’t read comics: there’s more than one reality and more than one version of Spider-Man, who may not always be a man. Written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who left Solo due to creative differences, this movie is pure joy from start to finish. If you know and love the characters, it’s so amazing to see them treated properly on the big screen. And if you don’t, it’s so much fun to meet all new versions of a character you already love.
Beyond the Spidey you know and love, there’s Miles Morales, a gifted teen who struggles to fit into a new school. He loves Spider-Man, is often at odds with his parents and looks up to his uncle Aaron. While working on graffiti, he’s bit by a radioactive spider and suddenly has the same abilities as his hero.
After a tragic incident when the real Spidey battles the Kingpin as that baddy tries to uses a particle accelerator to bring back his lost wife and son, Miles must take on the mantle of a hero while working alongside the Spiders of other dimensions: Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham, and Peni Parker and SP//dr.
The voice talent in this movie is absolutely amazing: Lily Tomlin is the best Aunt May ever, Nicholas Cage steals the show as Spider-Man Noir, who is from a world where it’s always black and white and smells like rain and it was great to hear comedian John Mulaney as Spider-Ham.
There’s so much of this movie that perfectly translates the language of comics in a way that few films have succeeded in accomplishing. Ang Lee’s The Hulk came close, but the animated styles of this film are constantly moving and even more alive than real action.
It’s also the first time I’ve seen a teenage world in a superhero movie that feels vibrant and now. Nothing feels fake, phony or forced about the school scenes. And the music is just as powerful as the film.
Of all the Stan Lee cameos in the Marvel films, the one here feels the most organic and perfect. It brought a tear to my eye when he sold Miles the costume and told him that all the costumes eventually fit. Kudos to the producers for remembering both Lee and Steve Ditko at the film’s end.
In case you didn’t pick it up, I give this movie my highest recommendation. While Infinity War may be the best Marvel movie ever, you need to have seen every single Marvel movie ever to get that. This is the kind of film that Becca could watch and enjoy without needing to open a single comic, which is just how she likes it. It’s not only the best animated movie I’ve seen this year, it may be the best movie overall.