Multiple iterations of the webcrawler team up in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is an awkward teenager from Brooklyn, who has uneasy relationship with his police officer father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry). While spray-painting with his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), Miles is bitten by a spider and gains powers similar to that of Spider-Man (Chris Pine). Investigating the matter further, Miles stumbles upon a Super Collider created by Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) and witnesses Spider-Man fall in the battle to stop it from being activated.
With Spider-Man dead, Miles believes that it is up to him to destroy the Super Collider and stop Fisk. Miles receives unexpected help when it turns out that five alternate versions of Spider-Man crossed through the Collider, including middle-aged loser Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Woman Gwen Stacey (Hailee Steinfeld), the hard-boiled Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), the manga influenced Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and the anthropomorphic pig Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Together, they must try and stop the Super Collider from being activated again, which could destroy New York City.
Spider-Man makes his animated film debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The film is produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie) and directed by the trio of Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, based on a script by Phil Lord. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse works as both a origin story for the Miles Morales iteration of Spider-Man, while also featuring a wide variety of the alternate Spider-Men (and Gwen), who showed up in the comics over the years.
The story of Miles Morales is notable, since his African American and Puerto Rican heritage makes him the first non-white Spider-Man. In fact, one of the ultimate messages of the film is that anyone can don the mask and be Spider-Man, with Peter Parker being just the one who got bit. Miles Morales’ story is unique from the traditional Spider-Man origin, since he lives in Brooklyn instead of Queens and has parents who are still alive. In fact, Miles’ relationship with his father plays a big role in this story, which is made extra awkward by the fact that Mile’s father has a huge dislike for Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a very unique animation style that makes the film look like the moving pages of a comic book. This includes boxes with the character’s inner-thoughts occasionally popping up and certain scenes, where the action is shown in different frames. In addition, the film seems to be a combination of CGI and traditional cell animation, particularly in regards to the characters of Peni Parker and Spider-Ham.
In addition to the film’s various versions of Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also features unique takes on the webslinger’s rogue gallery. This includes an abnormally huge Kingpin, a female Doc Ock (Kathryn Hahn), a very monstrous Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone) and Scorpion (Joaquín Cosio), and Kingpin’s ever-present henchman Tombstone (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III). The film also features lesser-known villain The Prowler, since he ties directly with Miles Morales’ origin story.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a very diverse voice cast lead by by relative newcomer Shameik Moore (Dope) in the lead role of Miles Morales. Chris Pine has a brief cameo as the Spider-Man of Miles’ dimension, though he quickly exits the picture and is replaced by comic actor Jake Johnson as a less competent version. Some other standout voices in the film include Saturday Night Live‘s John Mulaney doing his best Looney Tunes impression as Spider-Man, Liev Schreiber’s quite menacing Wilson Fisk and Nicolas Cage aping Humphrey Bogart as Spider-Noir. The film also features Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, Zoë Kravitz as Mary Jane Watson, Lake Bell as Wilson Fisk’s wife Vanessa, who is a central figure in his plan.
It would be too much for me to say that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man film, but it definitely stands out as one of the best. The comedic influence of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller is quite present, including tongue in cheek references to the previous films, particularly an infamous moment from Spider-Man 3. The film is also dedicated to Spider-Man creators Steve Ditko and Stan Lee who both passed away this year, with the film also featuring probably one of the most tear-jerking final Stan Lee cameos you will ever see.