As a millennial, I have grown up seeing three different Spider-Men, and now there are many more. The amount of new Spider-Men could have been tiresome, but the Spidey films have always done an unbelievable job bringing their fans back. Each installment manages to be new, creative, funny, and relatable.
Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland brought us back to our high school days, balancing academics, girls, dances (that Vulture doesn’t crash), and our formulating identities. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse nails that criteria as well, but it also includes deeper problems that teenagers face. And directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey bring these issues to the screen with the entertainment of a comic-cartoon.
A comic-cartoon is a film that is designed like a comic book with boxed text and shots that are separated by two columns to illustrate three scenes simultaneously. This makes the film entertaining while also keeping audiences alert. Garnering positive attention from critics and fans alike, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has clearly left a notable mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
When I first saw the trailer for this film, I really questioned the filmmakers’ approach and was skeptical of the cartoon nature. Cartoon superhero films usually go straight to DVD or a streaming site. But with a jump to #34 on the IMDB Top Rated List, a Golden Globe win for Best Animated Motion Picture, and a great episode of The Big Picture with Sean Fennessey on The Ringer, I was convinced that this was going to be a winner. And it no doubt is.
Spider-Verse has a surprising powerful cast that portrays the characters perfectly. The main character, young Miles Morales, is voiced by Shamilk Moore, well-known for his creative role in Dope, an underrated coming-of-age movie. Miles is a young African-Hispanic American kid from Brooklyn that is bitten by a radioactive spider and transforms into the new Spider-Man. With Moore’s young and insightful voice and beautiful artwork, the young Spider-Man is a train that everyone can hop on.
Fans of the sitcom New Girl will catch the great voice of Jake Johnson playing a jaded Spider-Man from another dimension who has been the neighborhood hero for 20 years. He is over the hero gig, has a terrible 5 o’clock shadow, and dad body. Despite his initial reluctance to help Miles, this burnt-out Peter becomes the big brother that a young Miles needs as he is faces the challenges of becoming Spider-Man.
Luckily for Miles, several dimensions are warped together to so he gets trained from more than just one Spider-Man. Gwen Stacey, a classic from the comics and voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, turns into the Spider-Woman that Miles and Peter Parker need for extra help and guidance. There’s also the surprising addition of Nicholas Cage as the grizled black-and-white Spider-Man Noir, a comical Spider-pig who can hold his own voiced by John Mulaney, and an anime Spider-Girl voiced by Kimiko Glenn. The training isn’t complete without Aunt May voiced by Lily Tomlin.
You would think that having more than one Spider-Man is impossible, but Spider-Verse does a great job introducing each one with a small bit about everyone’s background. And as it turns out, the characters need all the Spider-Men they can get when facing Kingpin, the main villain of the film. There are some returning villains like Tombstone, Green Goblin, and Scorpion. Prowler, the new villain on the scene proves to be spine-chilling every time he makes an appearance.
From the writer Phil Lord, known for 22 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Rodney Rothman who produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Andy Samberg’s PopStar: Never Stop Stopping, this movie manages to be hilarious in addition to its thrilling action. With throwbacks to the early 2000s Spider-Man movies and great banter between Miles and Peter, it was so well written that even the moms sitting behind me were crying of laughter. That said, the film doesn’t forget to touch on the deep parts of Spider-Man, that “with great power come great responsibility,” which is something that Miles isn’t used to and tends to avoid. By the end of the movie, it’s evident that Miles is one of the best Spider-heroes we’ve seen.
Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a great family-fun film. It is a wildly entertaining, masterfully animated cartoon about superheroes, and you will leave the movie theatre in your happy place. Also, it doesn’t forget to give recognition the late Stan Lee. The film follows Stan’s motto that Spider-Man could be anyone under the mask, even if they’re a kid from a Brooklyn, or, even, a kid in Oxford.