I really enjoyed the two Toby Maguire movies (I like to pretend the third was a bad dream I had), disliked the first Andrew Garfield film so much I never bothered to watch the second and loved all three of Tom Holland’s outings as the infamous wallcrawler. I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming so much I told anyone who would listen it was my favorite Spider-Man movie… until I saw Into the Spider-Verse last week.
Now, full disclosure, I’ve loved Miles Morales as Spider-Man since Brian Michael Bendis introduced him in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1(2011). Most of the credit has to go to Bendis’ writing. His dialog is natural and realistic, he creates characters instead of caricatures and is a master at emotionally engaging the reader. I’m torn with how spoilery to get with this article. I want to gush about all the things I love about Miles’ story, but I also want people to discover and be surprised by it themselves, so I will just say, Miles Morales is not an alternate universe Peter Parker with a different complexion, he is a unique and distinctive character but one with the same heart, passion, wit and stubbornness that make him a perfect inheritor of Spider-Mans webbing, and the movie does a great job of telling his origin. It is not an exact re-telling of the comic book story, but it keeps the important elements in place while making modifications necessary to fit in a two hour movie that also introduces a mob of the Spider-People.
Miles is the main focus of this movie, but all the other Spider-Verse characters are a joy to watch as well. I don’t think it requires spoiler tags to list them, since they are all on the movie posters. Half of them are not much more than comic relief, but Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham and Peni Parker are so much fun to watch that you still want more. The two other primary characters are Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacey from a universe where she, not Peter, was bitten by a spider) and Peter Parker from the main Marvel Universe (616 in Marvels multiverse numbering scheme. The movie takes place in the Ultimates dimension 1610). Gwen was a character I absolutely want to see more of (aside from more Miles of course) and I’m sure she could carry a movie all by herself, but it is the relationship between the older Peter and Miles that really shines.
While the Peter Parker in this movie is supposed to be from the storyline we know best, he’s not one you would recognize from the comics, it’s more like he’s our Peter Parker, but One More Day never happened. He’s the Peter we could have seen if Mephisto had never erased his marriage to Mary Jane (personally I prefer the more optimistic Renew Your Vows take on the Parker/Watson marriage). There’s a reluctant mentor and earnest pupil dynamic between him a Miles that I love. The relationship helps them both, each learn important lessons from the other, it’s not a one way street. Actually, Miles learns from all three of the male figures in his life, his father, his uncle and Peter all shape his character in different ways, which is more realistic than what you see in most other superhero stories. He’s a sum of all the influences on him, and not just a simple “One bad thing happened to him, so now he’s devoting his life to fighting crime” story.
So, yeah, I loved this movie. I loved the story, I loved the dialog, I loved the art, the action, the music. Don’t dismiss it because it is an animated feature, I don’t think this story would have been anywhere near as good if they had tried to make it live action. It is a near perfect movie (I say near because personally, I would have liked a little more Ganke). In a year that gave us some truly amazing super hero movies this one came out last, but for me is at the top of the list.
Ps. Didn’t get all the references I made to storylines or characters? Good! Hopefully it gets you curious enough to go and read some of the comics yourself. Most of them are available in trade paperback format, making it easy to get the whole story at once, or you can get yourself a subscription to Marvel Unlimited and read them all online.