I didn’t realise how bad the previous Spider-Man movies were until I laid eyes on Into the Spider–Verse. The first bit of evidence that proves how much I enjoyed the movie is that I praised the use of 3D within the first 15 minutes. I hate 3D movies because it always feels like the effects were tacked on afterwards and certain scenes are usually quite obviously shot to support the viewing experience. Also, the world a camera captures is already in 3D so there is natural depth. Instead of pushing objects out of the screen, the Spiderverse animators instead created depth into the scene.
You probably know all the technical details by now. How the cartoon artists drew over animated frames. How the animators didn’t use motion blur and instead drew on actual comic book animation techniques. You also probably read about the decision to emphasize the printing pixelation.
But what you wouldn’t know if you haven’t seen the movie is that we finally get a believable webslinger, freed from the restraints of physical action. There’s no cheesy cuts between unrealistic practical effects and CGI. Instead you have a fluid visual feast that stays true to the comic book pages that ignited your imagination as a child.
This is not, however, a kids’ movie. Where a film like Wreck–It Ralph is made for children and has adult-friendly jokes sprinkled on top, Spiderverse is a technical masterpiece made for comic book fans by comic book fans. This is a graphic novel adapted to modern film, but without unnecessary graphic violence or sexualisation.
Further evidence of my absolute joy is that my knee-jerk reaction to early reviews was “why does the first black Spider-Man have to share the screen with a full cast?” Then I saw the movie and realized that it stays true to the authentic Miles Morales origin story and is quite plainly a movie about a kid from Brooklyn coming to terms with becoming the city’s new savior.
Watching Miles gain control over his new-found powers without losing himself to the role of Spider-Man is central to the plot progression. The duality of being a graffiti artist and son of a policeman, black urban kid at a private school, and scared teenager who has to save his city is the driving force behind the film’s success.
Miles is never portrayed as a brilliant science nerd like the Peter Parkers before him. The movie even pokes fun at the traditional Spider-Man tropes like the well-worn wisdom of power and its associated responsibility. While being an in-joke for the Spider-geeks it also allows the movie to breathe outside of the stale air surrounding Sony’s handling of the franchise. This is a uniquely fresh persepective on a well known tale of bravery in the face of puberty.
Even when sharing screen time with the established heroes of their dimensions, the audience is allowed to become personally invested in Miles because his journey to the mask is unique and plays out as the movie unfolds. Each Spider-Man gets an origin story montage as they are introduced, except Miles which makes him more accessible to new fans. Also the inclusion of street art and urban music as the tapestry to a vibrant Brooklyn as opposed to the sterile Queens of lore will earn points among the current youth.
It’s an important win for Sony as well, having already taken a proverbial “L” when Marvel offered up the widely praised Homecoming Spider-franchise reboot. For Sony to allow the Spiderverse filmmakers to openly deride Spidey’s previous outings from the studio. In Miles Morales and the extended universe of webcrawlers Sony now has fertile soil to cultivate a new edgier love for Spidey that is outside of the conservative, traditional Avenger.
As a marketing vehicle Spiderverse is a godsend for the embattled tech company, but I’m just happy that Spider-Man is finally represented in a way that is close to the pages of the comics that I loved as a child. Just like the Ultimate Spider–Man TV series was more popular than the Ultimate Universe comics, Into the Spider-Verse shows that Spider-Man is a different class of hero to the stiff strong men and that can only be fully celebrated in cinema as an animated character.