Directed by Bob Persichetti (Directorial Debut), Rodney Rothman (Directorial Debut), and Peter Ramsey
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) of Earth-1610 begins his journey as he becomes the new Spider-Man and must join with five spider-powered counterparts from other dimensions to stop Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) from activating a device that could threaten all realities.
This in my opinion is the best of the recent Spider-Man films. Spider-Man in general has been lighter in tone than other characters. I admit I am not in depth in my knowledge on the universe of Miles Morales. I know more about the original Spider-Man than I do about this character. Having said that, these are not shallow, goofy stories as portrayed in the MCU nor are they generally crushingly serious even though they may have serious consequences and themes.
The MCU films have turned the concept of Spider-Man into awkward comedy rather than someone with superpowers attempting to use them for good and have a normal life. They disrespect the material as well as the audience in favor of easily digestible tripe. But I am getting a little off track here.
We see several variations of Spider-Man, all drawn from the comics, in this film. The Spider-Man from Earth-1610 (voiced by Chris Pine) is onscreen the briefest as he is the one that dies and sends Miles on his hero’s journey. Jake Johnson is Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man and finds himself reluctantly in the role of mentor to Miles. He is not nearly as together as 1610 Peter. Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) is the next counterpart who in her reality gained the powers and failed to save Peter in a reverse of the traditional story. Kimiko Glenn voices Peni Parker/SP//dr who is an anime inspired creation that shares a psychic connection with a spider in a mech suit.
Nicolas Cage is perfectly cast as Peter Parker/Spider-Man Noir. He can be an intense actor and brings that to his role in somewhat of a self-parody. The character itself is from a 1930s inspired world and depicted in black and white.
My favorite alternate version to make it into this movie is Peter Porker/Spider-Ham voiced by John Mulaney. I remember reading the comics published under Marvel’s Star Comics imprint as kid. They were bad but in an enjoyable way. As implied in the name, he is pig version parody of Spider-Man. The kid in my squeed in excitement. The adult was ashamed of the kid but smiled.
Despite the more fanciful elements, this is a great character driven story with plenty of excitement and action that does not skimp on character development. The assorted characters are crafted well enough that they are distinct individuals.
The revelations in the film are genuine surprises. Nothing is truly obvious and then confirmed. The closest you get to “No duh!” is with Gwen Stacy but that would be mostly if you know the comics or even saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Both have been ‘out there’ for longer than the Miles comics. The revelation concerning Miles’s uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) is one of the more surprising things to happen in the film and taken from the comics.
We get a visually stunning animated feature with a well-crafted soundtrack that enhances the film. They are not just thrown in there because they are performed by name artists that the producers got to contribute something. These songs enhance the scene.
The hero does not stumble into a final confrontation with the villain. As with some more recent Marvel films, the hero cannot just walk away and someone else will fix things. Events and his own personal code leave him no other option. Miles is the only one that can give the best possible outcome and stop Kingpin. And the villain is a genuine threat and dark equal of our hero. His motivations are misguided and personal and he is blinded to the consequences. As an added bonus Fisk’s motivation is to bring back his dead family from an alternate reality and not something moronic like, say, getting revenge on Tony Stark because he named something B.A.R.F.
This story does not talk down to the audience or edge towards campiness or silliness. It respects the audience as well as the material. They do not get goofy and have the characters make questionable decisions. There is real danger and the consequence of failure is serious.
And they make the action as exciting as anything you might see in live action. You are thrilled and brought to the edge of your seat. And the visual style they employ makes it feel like a comic book. This is a superhero film done right.
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse is the best of the recent Spiderman films. It is focused on the core character and it respects the material as well as the viewing audience. I highly recommend you watch it.