[As mentioned in the title, this review contains spoilers for the film Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. If you don’t want to be spoiled on the film, then it would be best for you to stop scrolling any further.]
When I saw the trailer for Into the Spider-Verse some months back, my initial reaction was something along the lines of this:
It didn’t particularly pique my interest. The scene I saw was Miles Morales visiting Peter Parker’s grave to apologise and the chase scene that subsequently follows. It wasn’t really funny to me and I found myself unamused by it. In fact, I didn’t even wish to see this movie and only went to view it on a complete whim.
And, well, my reaction after I saw it was something along the lines of…
It absolutely lived up to the hype in every way possible. I was completely blown away by this movie and all it had to offer. I even wanted to give it a rewatch just so I could appreciate everything about it more (which I did just two days back, incidentally). So now, let’s get into the details, shall we?
So, starting with the basics, the story is simple but works quite well both as a serious tale and as a parody of Spiderman tropes. Seeing the normal, everyday life of Miles being contrasted with the very out-there lives of the other Spidermen is interesting. Miles’ subplot involving his family works very well and I was invested in his relationship with his father as well as his Uncle Aaron. Making Aaron the Prowler was certainly a surprising twist as well, though sadly his death soon after makes it feel like it has lost potential. I would’ve liked to see Aaron converse with Miles more after being exposed and I would have liked to also see how he even became the Prowler. On the other hand, it set up a pretty good subplot with how Miles’ father dealt with it all so I can’t say I’m particularly unhappy about it.
A minor complaint I do have with the subplot though is how it ends. Sure, Miles makes up with his dad both as himself and as Spiderman, but I found it disappointing that he didn’t reveal his identity at the end. Of course, it makes sense to him considering his father doesn’t really appreciate vigilantism and such but I felt it was a wasted opportunity from a story perspective and that it was such a tease.
In terms of other subplots, I also liked the relationship with Miles and Peter B. Parker as well as Gwen. Both were well done and felt quite meaningful at the end. I liked how even though it would’ve been “cooler” for Peter to join the final fight against Kingpin, he doesn’t because it’s more thematically relevant and more importantly, meaningful for Miles. Another nice touch I liked was that Miles and Gwen don’t fall in love at the end and instead decide to stay friends. I was absolutely dreading the cliche kiss scene but was pleasantly surprised when their relationship stayed platonic but also felt meaningful, as Gwen had finally managed to make a friend in Miles. It felt very nice.
Other than that, the only major subplot there is involves the villain and his motivations, but I’ll tackle that later on since it ties into something else I want to talk about.
But while I’m here, I’ll also mention that the writing in general was done perfectly. Not just serious scenes, the comedy in this movie was absolutely hilarious, aforementioned trailer scene aside. It felt like such a fresh breath of air after so many movies I’ve watched try to tone up the expletives and vulgarities in order to incite laughter from the audience, whereas this one just does it by being normally funny. It’s clean, family friendly but also actually good- the perfect combo for a good comedy, at least in my opinion. Special shoutouts in terms of jokes go to: the spider casually being swatted away after biting Miles; the Comic-Con shoutout; the scene where Miles realises everyone is depending on him at Mary Jane’s speech only to be corrected by some guy explaining it’s a metaphor; the reveal of Peni Parker and Spider-Ham; Miles appearing as if he’s going to jump off but then running back down the stairs of a building; and finally “Say I love you back”. This film is filled to the brim with a lot of other similarly hilarious jokes but I’ll keep it to those. It was fun, dynamic and consistently good. It easily has a lot of rewatchability factor in terms of comedy alone.
Oh, and the post-credits scene as well. I was giggling so hard at that that it was somewhat embarrassing.
Anyway, now that we’re done with that, it’s time to move onto…
Not much to say here in terms of the animation except that it was amazing. The visuals are on par, if not better than the story and the comedy. In fact, they perfectly complement each other. The art style is actually perfect for a movie like this. I like how it perfectly fits the tone of a superhero comic and has this comic-like feeling to it. The visuals really shine in the parts with the accelerator especially, but the normal parts also look good enough to work.
I also really like how they made the Spider-people from all the various timelines perfectly contrast with each other. Peter, Miles and Gwen look normal enough, but then Noire Spiderman fits the edgy early 1900s image going for him and is completely monotone. And meanwhile Peni and Spider-Ham have an extremely cartoony look going for each of them and manage to appear 2D in a 3D world, somewhat reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (though there is one scene where they pan over Spider-Ham and he’s noticeably more 3D than 2D, unfortunately). But it really works and makes it believable that they’re all from completely different worlds.
Overall, the animation is yet another highlight of this movie to me and works wonders for the tone of the movie. It’s visually pleasing but also complements the feel of a superhero movie. And now, moving onto…
The characters are all good. Starting with the main cast, Miles makes for a good protagonist. Simple but relatable. And then comes the rest of the Spider-Crew. And, um…how do I put it?
They’re….certainly out there, I’ll say. Though this brings me to a minor qualm I have with the movie. Other than Peter and Gwen, the others- Noire Spiderman, Spider-Ham and Peni- are mostly just there, along for the ride. This isn’t too much of a bad thing, admittedly- they contribute to the fight scenes effectively and add a lot to the comedy of the movie. Seeing a literal anime girl and a cartoon pig battle it out with some of the baddies is hilarious yet strangely interesting. However, they don’t really have any substantial depth or make any meaningful relationship with Miles or the others. Perhaps one could say this is too much to really expect from a film like this, and you would be most likely correct. But seeing the dynamic between Miles and Peter as well as Miles and Gwen, these other three pale in comparison (though I liked how they all got their own little arc concluded by the end of the movie anyhow).
Next up are the villains- Kingpin and Doctor Octo. Let’s deal with the latter first- I liked the twist that she was just the head scientist this timeline and I liked how she was trying to accomplish her own thing as well. Her fight scenes were good and although it was anticlimactic how she simply got squashed by a bus at the end, I’d say it benefited the movie more in terms of pacing. Now, for the real meat…
Kingpin always felt like one of the stranger, weirder Spiderman villains to me. His design felt weird and out of place with the other characters, even in this movie, and his superhuman strength felt like a strange contrast to his job as a mob boss. It surprisingly ends up working well enough with the cartoony tone of the movie, but I still felt that his presence was, for the lack of a better word, weird here.
Another problem I have with him was his motivations. It’s usually a thing to give villains their own tragic backstory to sympathise with them and in this case I liked Kingpin’s enough- even though you can understand why he hates Spiderman so much, you can also understand that it’s his fault in the first place; but also make sense of why he’s trying to collide multiple universes together. But ultimately, there wasn’t much payoff to all that, besides a neat little parallel with the other universes’ Richards and Vanessas running from him yet again as he tries to kill Spiderman. It felt like a bizarre anticlimax and we don’t really get much of him after that, apart from another fight scene.
Apart from that, the other side characters also work well. Even the other somewhat irrelevant characters contribute their own comedy to this movie and the main characters, apart from a few mild criticisms. Now, moving onto…
Surprisingly not much to add on the music. I usually don’t try to listen to it too much but I vaguely remember some tunes like What’s Up, Danger and such. It does its job well enough without being distracting, which is what a good movie soundtrack can be.
On another note though, the Christmas Album (which they actually released) is absolutely amazing. I wholeheartedly recommend it for your dose of Christmas cheer. Spidey-Bells is by far my favourite song, which even plays in the credits of the movie, which is much appreciated since you can properly listen to its chaotic glory without any character talking over it. Truly a wonderful prelude to the strange hilarity of the post-credits scene.
So, as we come to the end of this review, I think my thoughts on this movie are clear enough. It’s an absolutely vivid experience and I thoroughly recommend rewatching it just so you can appreciate the finer details more. An interesting little fact I noticed on a rewatch is that whenever Prowler (Aaron) is chasing Miles, he doesn’t know it’s his own nephew. Even in the tunnel chase scene, it’s dark enough to reasonably assume he wouldn’t realise it was Miles he was chasing. And in the other chase scenes, Miles is wearing his costume, so obviously Prowler wouldn’t recognise him. But I digress. Overall, this is just a load of fun. The visuals, the story, and the comedy all live up to the Spiderman name. It works both as a standalone and as a parody of superhero movies in some rights. Even though I had some minor gripes, this movie was good enough where I can overlook most of these. It’s really an almost perfect animated feature.
If I had to give this movie a score, I’d certainly give it a 9.5/10. Not much else to add, really. I think it’s clear why it deserves that score.
Thank you all for reading my spoiler-review! I know a new post’s been a while coming now, and I didn’t want to disappoint! All of you have a Merry Christmas, and believe me, this isn’t the last of me you’ll see this year! One last post is coming this month, believe you me.
But anyway, have a good day to you all!
Edit: Oh, but speaking of Christmas Miracles (or technically Christmas Eve Miracle since this was sent yesterday), apparently this is a thing.
So, uh, hooray for me, I suppose!