I’ve been so close to buying “Into the Spider-Verse” many times, knowing of its reputation and frankly wanting to see it before it even got its rep. Why have I waited so long? No idea, really (might have something to do with a really long game movie marathon…) but now it’s popped onto the UK Netflix I was finally able to give it a watch. Does my opinion differ from the majority, keeping in mind I tend to like comic/manga adaptations more than most critics who still praised this film anyway? Funnily enough… No. Let’s take a look anyway!
After gaining superpowers from a spider bite, Miles Morales protects the city as Spider-Man. Soon, he meets alternate versions of himself and gets embroiled in an epic battle to save the multiverse.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
A trio of Spider-People in a trippy background… get ready for a lot of that during the runtime!
When you think that this film, in just two hours, had to tell an origin story for Miles and then introduce a “multiverse” of several other spider-people before wrapping it all up, it’s amazing that not only did they pull that off, but they did it so well. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is moving into a top-class high school away from his home in Brooklyn and is resenting the idea, particularly taking it out of his police officer father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry). As a break from the stress he often visits his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), and on one night where they visit a subway area Miles is bitten by a modified “radioactive spider”, to put it in the classic way. This leads to some funny “discovering my powers” scenes mixed in with some classic “high school humiliation” scenes, some of which include him and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld).
This all leads to him trying out his powers and ending up seeing the actual Spider-Man / Peter Parker(Chris Pine) do battle with Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), or more specifically a host of his allies, as a super-collider is activated that connects to several alternate worlds. Miles and Spider-Man meet briefly and plan to train together, but sadly for them both, Spider-Man is killed by Kingpin after he damages, but doesn’t destroy, the machine. Miles morns for his brief mentor at his grave and runs into… Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), an older, more dishevelled Peter from another world where his run as Spider-Man lasted a couple of decades but his marriage to Mary Jane fell through, an event that sent him into something of a downward spiral. After some legitimately funny scenes revolving around a train and an unconscious Peter the two of them make an entertaining duo, Peter being the world-weary mentor who doesn’t really want to help (but deep down clearly does) and Miles being the eager student who is constantly disappointed by his new teacher.
Even as a bit of a jerk, you just can’t hate Peter Parker…
In order to shutdown the collider and hopefully get Peter back to his own universe the two eventually raid Kingpin’s lab and meet Olivia Octavius (Kathryn Hahn), a female Doc Ock, and Gwen, who is revealed to be also from another universe and a Spider-Person (which made so much more sense in my head, as Gwen in high school with Miles while Peter is already an adult as Spider-Man was hard to connect…). The three of them soon hatch a plan and meet up with the Aunt May of Miles’ universe (Lilly Tomlin) and three more alternate universe Spider-People in Peni Parker (Kimiko Mulaney), a Japanese-American girl who controls a robot that has a Spider in it she can communicate with, Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage), a black and white Detective Noir version of Spider-Man, and Peter Porker (John Mulaney), a Looney Toons cartoon pig version of Spider-Man called Spider-Ham… Yep. Together they come to the conclusion that Miles isn’t ready to help them, and that one would have to stay behind and die in this universe so the others can get back. Miles is faced with more turmoil when one of Kingpin’s henchmen turns out to be his beloved Uncle… who then gets shot dead by his boss in front of him.
The multi-versal Spider-People head off to the Collider and leave Miles tied up, but he eventually finds a way to use his stealth and electric abilities at will and runs after them… after a heart-warming speech by his Dad (while he was unable to respond) and meeting up with May to get a proper suit and webslingers. We soon get confirmation that Kingpin is doing all this because his wife and son were killed in a car accident after fleeing from him, and he wishes to find an alternate universe version of them to “bring them back”, which is a good extra layer to what would’ve otherwise been a paper-thin baddie. The final battle is long and full of really trippy battles, but in the end each Spider-Person goes back to their own world and Miles saves the day by defeating Kingpin. There is a great post-credits scene where a version of Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) travels the multiverse and meets the Spider-Man from the classic 1967 Cartoon (voiced by Jorma Taccone, doing his best Paul Soles), complete with references to the pointing meme that was so popular on the internet for a while…
Kingpin’s bodysize is one of the weirder things in the film, but it still sort-of works, even if it doesn’t match any other human we see in the whole film, from any universe!
That is a four paragraph recap because the whole film was good. No point in breaking into what was good and bad, it was all good. The animation deserves special attention, it’s a properly stunning blend of 2D effects and 3D models with a great cell-shaded style as well. I loved seeing some of the alternate Spider-People on the screen, I remember reading the original Spider-Verse comics a good few years back, and at some point I read Spider-Man Noir… or was it just the game that he appeared in…? Either way, it was a great time overall!
I honestly can’t think of anything. Maybe some of the gags where they turned Aunt May into a bad-ass type failed to land with me, but they could easily make other people laugh, and pretty much the entire rest of the film completely landed with me, so that one small bit not being as good hardly makes a dent in the experience.
A “family photo” to end on!
“Into the Spider-Verse” may well be the best Spider-Man movie full stop, and I loved the Tobey Maguire trilogy and the recent Tom Holland MCU stuff. It manages to tell a comic book origin tale, a heart-warming family tale and a grand-scale multiversal threat tale and nails all three perfectly. More please!