Warning: There are some minor spoilers ahead for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” may be breaking records at the box-office right now, but everyone will be talking about Sony Pictures Animation’s “Spider-Man” movie come the holidays. Do we need another Spider-Man movie? Probably not, but directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman (yes, there are three) take that to heart to give you a reason to care about the seventh(!) film featuring the webslinger since 2002.
Despite a wordy tongue twister of a title, “Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse” feels like a comic-book come to life. Sony’s vibrant, hilarious holiday movie is gorgeous to look at, is incredibly self-aware, and delivers the big screen debut of a few new Spideys that will become household names.
You’re going to have to see this one twice to catch many of the Easter eggs and you’ll want to prepare yourself for a Stan Lee cameo that will hit you right in the feels. I’d dare say “Spider-Verse” may be your favourite animated movie of the year (sorry Disney).
Why you should care: It’s from the producers of “The Lego Movie,” and it has some fantastic cameos.
Chris Miller and Phil Lord. Those two names should perk your ears up. The filmmaking duo are producers on the film and everything they touch turns to gold (except “Solo,” but more on that later). If you don’t recognise their names, they’re responsible for breakout hits like “The LEGO Movie” and “21 Jump Street.”
While we were bummed the two didn’t direct the movie themselves, we were psyched Lord wrote the screenplay for this movie and it shows. The film has the quirky flair of one of the pair’s past big hits, “The LEGO Movie,” with the addition of absolutely stunning visuals. So what’s this movie about? Are we just following Peter Parker around again? Nope. And that’s what makes it worth a watch. “Spider-Verse” takes a page from what The CW has successfully been doing with its “Arrowverse” for years by delving into parallel universes and other versions of its hero.
We’re introduced to Miles Morales, a half-black, half-Puerto Rican teen who gets endowed with the powers of Spider-Man. When a few super villains (no spoilers) threaten to literally pull apart the universe, several other Spider-Men (and women) from parallel universes wind up stranded in Morales’ world (hence the title “Into the Spider-Verse.”) It’s up to the group of six to put a stop to the bad guy and save the world before it – and multiple other parallel universes and Spider people – get destroyed.
Sony’s so confident in how the movie will perform a sequel and spin-offs were announced ahead of reviews dropping.
An added plus? Nicolas Cage plays a Spidey! (Sidenote: It’s been quite a year of animated movies for him. He was also Superman in “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.”) He’s not the only welcome cameo. Pay attention and you’ll notice heartthrob Chris Pine has a minor role as a Spider-Man, too.
What’s hot: The animation, the Spider-Men (and women) introduced, a Stan Lee cameo that will make you cry, and one of the best end-credits scenes you’ll ever see in a movie, period.
When I saw the first half hour or so of “Spider-Verse” at New York Comic Con in October, I knew I was seeing something special.
I’ve watched a lot of animated movies and it’s easy to get used to the look of digital animation in recent years from most studios. Trailers for “Spider-Verse” teased something much different than we’re used to seeing, and the film delivers on that promise.
For much of the start of the film you may be too distracted by the visuals to be paying attention to everything going on in the actual movie. From the moments the opening Marvel and Sony credits start, it feels like you’re being transported inside of a comic book. The colour palette is vibrant (a nod to the strong visuals in artwork from Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko and Miles Morales creator Brian Michael Bendis) and comic elements are used to bring attention to special moments.
Word bubbles appear on screen as Morales discovers his powers to tell you his inner thoughts. Words like “Wham,” “Boom,” and “Bam” appear in action scenes that will make you smile. These added touches and more as you watch the film make it feel extra special and like a lot of care went into making this standout from a typical animated flick.
“Spider-Verse” is fast-paced and fast-moving. If you look away for a second, you’re bound to miss an Easter egg, a gag, something in the background, or a comic reference. The movie pokes fun at and acknowledges the legacy “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi gave us with Tobey Maguire’s trilogy in the early ’00s. Take a close look at the numbers in Morales’ phone at one point and you’ll spy B. Bendis in his phone.
The movie is filled with laugh after big laugh. A standout moment early on is when Morales’ uncle Aaron tries to give him advice on picking up a girl, which fails miserably early on in the film.
Granted Lord and Miller are producers on this venture, but their presence is felt through the comedic, quirky beats they have become known for like that one. It actually makes you wonder what “Solo” would have been if they weren’t fired from the project. Those are two guys who you let work their magic and stand back as evidenced by this film.
Morales himself is a Spider-Man for this generation, who more closely resembles a big portion of the population who come from mixed backgrounds with two working parents than the Peter Parker so many have been used to seeing on the big screen. As “Black Panther” did earlier this year, young Hispanic and black children will be excited to see a superhero who looks more like them. Young girls will be inspired by a female Spider Woman (none of this Spidergirl nonsense) and anime darling Peni Parker.
And for the adults tagging along, there’s a broader, emotional story about a washed-up, sweatpants-wearing alternate version of Peter Parker (a wonderful Jake Johnson) who lost his way and slowly learns what it means to be a hero again from someone who desperately wants to be one.
Some of the love of the movie is in the details. I took my brother to see the movie with me and he pointed out something I may have overlooked. He loved that Gwen Stacy’s character was given a small gap in between her two front teeth, similar to his own.
Speaking of Gwen, one of the film’s major delights is seeing six vastly different versions of Spider-Man characters on screen. Comedian John Mulaney hams it up as one of the most obscure Marvel characters, a talking pig named Spider-Ham, who you’ll want to know more about. Nic Cage’s Spider Noir describes himself as a guy who “likes to fight Nazis.” Grab yourself a Spider-Gwen doll now. Those dolls are going to move off of shelves.
Bring a tissue for the Stan Lee cameo. I had seen this one back in October, but the line he says hit a lot closer to home hearing it so soon after his death. And stick through the credits until the film’s very end for one of the smartest and best end-credits scenes in any Marvel movie. You may need to be familiar with internet GIFs to fully appreciate it.
And kudos on the film for not hitting us over the head with the Spidey origin story over and over again, but instead finding a playful way to poke fun at the many times we have heard the familiar story of Parker on screen.
Not much. There could have been more in the film with the other Spider-Man and their interactions with Miles Morales, but you’ll be thoroughly happy.
I don’t have many complaints with this film. If anything, I would have enjoyed seeing a few more Spider-people or spending more time with the ones introduced. Nicolas Cage’s black-and-white Spider Noir is an oddball gem and I want to know more about the worlds where Peni Parker and a spider pig come from. (Plus, John Mulaney is just a delight to listen to on screen.)
The biggest thing that bothered me while watching the film was that Jake Johnson’s Spider-Man fails to give Miles Morales a basic rundown of using his new powers. Miles is just expected to be a superhero right away and when he can’t keep up with the others, who have had their powers for much longer, they’re quick to roll their eyes, tell him nicely to sit out, and abandon him instead of pausing to give him a crash course montage in being Spider-Man.
Instead, Miles has to learn to control his powers on his own. It felt a little weird for a movie that’s big on inclusivity.
Overall: Sony knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s the perfect movie to see with family over the winter holiday.
Go for the seven different versions of Spider-Man and stay for the animation. It’s trippy, beautiful and will make you want to go out and buy a comic book. You’re probably going to want to see this one twice to try and soak in all of the Easter eggs.
“Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse” is in theatres Friday, December 14, 2019. Watch a trailer below:
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.