'Spider-Man' can be a hard franchise to love.
He’s easily the most oversaturated of the Marvel hero-verse, and more than a few Marvel fans hold grudges that his ‘Homecoming’ pushed both ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ releases back. So, a movie featuring a bunch of Spidermen, a Spiderwoman, and a Spiderpig has a lot of room for lameness.
‘Into The Spider-Verse’, however, is a strong contender for movie of the year for anyone who likes thoughtful, engaging cinema with heaped helpings of cartoon violence and ridiculousness. This feels, in a way, like an ushering in of the new superhero movie era, where the typical white male hero takes a backseat to other stories. It would have been so easy to focus on Peter Parker as the perfect hero of the day, and yet the writers have worked hard to give him flaws. He’s ageing. He’s getting a little wider around the middle than his younger counterparts. And that earnest do-gooder mentality has been stomped down by a life of putting the fight before everything else. He might take the occasional leadership role, but this is Miles Morales’s story, and the new-gen Spiderman is a breath of life to the franchise. Tom Holland might rock as the culture nerd Peter Parker, but Shameik Moore’s Miles Morales is enough to get you itching for a trip to your local comic book store.
If you’ve seen the teaser for ‘Into the Spider-Verse’, you’ll know that this was never going to be just a cutesy kid’s movie. There is some hilariously dark comedy at play here, and it was risky to interweave it with the coming-of-age story of a young black superhero. The writers have worked magic here in keeping it fun, but undeniably gritty. It’s quite a dark movie given all the bright colours and the cutesy anime stylings of Peni Parker and her robot.
What I love most about ‘Into The Spider-Verse’ is that it’s a group of heroes not so much bound by that noble ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ ethos, but by an all-consuming snark you can’t help but feel on a spiritual level. They’re flawed, even damaged by the costs of doing the right thing, and it’s glorious to see.
Gwen Stacey, played to perfection by Hailee Steinfeld, has dedicated herself to a life without friends after her best friend was killed. And while I think there was scope to explore her backstory more (especially in relation to how it would impact her in the new dimension she’d found herself in), there’s something nice in seeing the main female character be strong, broken, and at times kind of cold, and still having her treated sympathetically and respectfully. This is easily some of the best storytelling I’ve seen from a movie this year.
‘Into The Spider-Verse’ is a must-see if you love gritty action rife with dark humour, but also if you like inventive visual storytelling and compelling narratives that leave you walking out of the cinema desperate for a sequel.
As with all Marvel movies, you're going to want to stay till the end of the credits.