What got me into comic books was the definitive comic book movie of the 1980s, Batman (1989). Sure, Batman 89’ isn’t the most accurate adaptation of its source material; but it is the movie that made me fall in love with film and comic books. After that, my love for comics just grew, with Spider-Man quickly becoming my second-favorite comic book character. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, I read Spidey’s comics just as much as I did those of The Bat. In 2002, the release of the Spider-Man movie redefined comic book cinema; just as Batman ‘89 had thirteen years prior.
Since then comic book movies have ruled the multiplex and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. After all, we’re not only living in the silver screen age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU); we also live in a time when all comic books will be adapted. Perhaps that’s why Columbia Pictures and Sony Animation Studios are now tackling two of the most significant aspects of Spider-Man comics. The first of course is Miles Morales, a fan favorite created in 2011 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. Morales was quickly embraced by readers after taking over the mantle of Spider-Man. Not only is he a young character, but he can also be further identified with by readers, thanks to his bringing some diversity to one Marvel Comics flagship titles. Then, of course, there is the concept of the Spider-Verse, a series of titles concerning multiple universes and multiple Spider-People.
These two significant elements of Spider-Man comics in the 21st-century are the foundation for the new computer-animated film, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. The movie follows Brooklyn teenager, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore); whose world is turned upside down after he’s bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him similar powers to those of “Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man,” Peter Parker (Chris Pine). Shortly after that, Miles learns that the world is bigger than he imagined. He encounters Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham/Peter Porker (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage). Under the tutelage of these heroes from different multiverses, Miles must master his newfound powers and help defend all these multiverses from Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk (Liev Schreiber)!
Generally, I try not to have expectations going into a movie. Despite this, I was simultaneously looking forward to and worried about Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. On the one hand, the flick looked like it could be an amazing Spider-Man movie. But, on the other hand, I wasn’t sure the highly-stylized computer animation could withstand a feature-length runtime before becoming tiresome. I’ve no doubt that my concerns about the animation were since I don’t usually cotton to the styles utilized by Sony Animation.
Well, it turns out that I had nothing to be worried about. Folks, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is amazing in every way! From an animation standpoint, this movie is a real showcase of what can be done with computer animation; all of which is enthralling. Probably because a variety of animation styles are presented in this film; all in an effort to bring a comic book to life. Each frame of this film is a dynamic visual treat. (These visuals include a recurring optical tick you should keep your eyes peeled for.)
Aside from being a stellar animated movie, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is one of the best comic book movies we have yet to see. It is indeed a cinematic love letter to comics. Into The Spider-Verse brings the medium of comic books to the screen more accurately than any subgenre piece that has come before it. The movie even goes so far as to open with The Comics Code Authority label. A choice which brought a smile to my face and as the film played out; my smile just widened.
In my estimation, Into The Spider-Verse is a near perfect movie; outside one small quibble. That being that the film’s conclusion is predictable. As a result, the third act of the story feels a tad long still. Still, even the predictably is understandable considering that this movie is aimed at a wide-audience which includes children. The filmmakers hit their mark as Into The Spider-Verse can appeal to so many, thanks to its diversity. Thus, the film plays to please, and despite this predictability, it does!
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is not only a great comic book movie; I also think it’s the best Spider-Man movie to date. (Outside of Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) running in a near second place.) Moreover, this one of the best movies of the year and was a blast to watch. Over the holidays, go out and watch Into The Spider-Verse. I assure you will be hard-pressed to have more fun at the movies this year!
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