Marvel has been hitting the right notes when it comes to their lineup of MCU films. These films have been a huge success, raking in billions along the way ever since they kickstarted the cinematic universe with the launch of Iron Man a decade ago. The same success, however, has not filtered down to their animated studios. While they have a strong listing when it comes to animated series, the same cannot be said about the animated films, with limited releases in the last decade. It’s clear to see that the DC Animated Universe has been far more successful on this front. And while all their releases aren’t overwhelmingly great, it’s a lot better than nothing, or anything Marvel had to offer during the same time.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse came as something of a surprise to me for many reasons. The first is due to the above-mentioned, that the team haven’t released much in the way of blockbuster animated films of late. The second being that we’ve seen three different Spider-Man live-action film franchises in just over a 10-year period, notwithstanding another three animated series or TV shows during the same time. With more than five differing origin stories, you could excuse fans for not wanting to see yet another one, irrespective of how the story is told. What’s interesting with this latest take on your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man is that it doesn’t offer viewers a new origin story, it gives you six. Yes, you heard right.
Right out the gates, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse throws you with a curve ball or two. It’s a lot different from anything you’ve seen from any of the previous Spider-Man franchises. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously either. We realised this within the first few minutes, taking a lot of digs at previous Spider-Man films and then itself in the process. It’s comical, which is great. But unlike the many previous animated features, it doesn’t avoid what it is.
It’s a lot different from anything you’ve seen from any of the previous Spider-Man franchises.
The story is fairly straight-forward. An intelligent youngster, Miles Morales – teenage son of an African-American cop and a Puerto Rican nurse – is thrown into a new environment as a result of a scholarship he receives. Along the way, he is bitten by some kind of engineered spider. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s radioactive, though. He stumbles upon an evil experiment, overseen by the Kingpin, in which he attempts to open a portal to a different multiverse with a different reality. He, in fact, manages to open five. Needless to say, these alternate dimensions open a gateway for the five different Spider-people to cross paths.
What’s great about each of the different versions of Spider-Man is that they all have different personalities and bring new skills to the character. It would have been easy to be engulfed by each of these different stories and characters, but the focus remains largely on Miles, who is the only one of the bunch who is yet to perfect his Spidey capabilities and doesn’t even know how to swing from building to building either. Despite its humorous overall tone, the film isn’t short of a deeper story and meaning, with Miles also having to deal with his new-found capabilities, all the while facing a lot of turmoil in his life.
What’s great about each of the different versions of Spider-Man is that they all have different personalities and bring new skills to the character.
While Miles himself is of mixed race, there isn’t a sense that this is a major issue for the lead character or having to face any issues as a result. It’s simply a non-issue. There’s a lot more going on around him without throwing these additional challenges into the mix. I’m not undermining this, but we don’t always have to see these battles at every turn and how it’s dealt with in the film is more than acceptable.
The animation style of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse varies quite significantly across various techniques from your standard animation, anime style and even a comic book approach, complete with speech bubbles. There’s also a good mix of 3D and 2D animation styles in addition to all this. The film also throws in many modern pop-culture references making it timely as well. The villains in the film are also recognisable, albeit with a slight spin on the character designs.
As is always the case, there are some post-credit scenes to discover for all those patient enough to stick around once the lights have been turned on. The first of these is a tribute to the late great Stan Lee. This was clearly a solemn moment for fans in our theatre, as there was a noticeable hush, shortly followed by cheers, handclaps and a few shouts of praise. The second post-credit scene happens much later. Without revealing any spoilers, I can only advise you to stick around.
Spider-Man: In the Spider-Verse has brought fresh, new life to the Marvel animated universe, more specifically for its big screen showings in the past 10 years. An even greater result of the film is that it has successfully kicked off a new franchise for the character, which will see a mix of different takes across the many comics it has been featured in over the decades. Already revealed this week is that we’ll soon be seeing an all-female spinoff from the film. While not many details have been revealed otherwise, one of the possibilities includes a film featuring Spider-Gwen, with possibilities of seeing other Spider-Woman, Madame Web, Spider-Girl and Silk, to name a few. The film is hilarious, to say the least, and definitely worth a second watch.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse breathes new life into the Spider-Man franchise, offering viewers a glimpse of the many different variants of the friendly, neighbourhood web-slinger. The film is both funny and action-packed, with enough zany moments to bring it all together. A simply must-watch for all fans.