With great power comes great responsibility.
I think we can all relate to that statement in one way or another. The Spider-Man movies have been a pinnacle of entertainment for the last sixteen years. People have grown up feeling a kinship with the fictional Peter Parker. Sure, not everyone’s uncle was gunned down in the street, but Peter proved to have interesting qualities that outshone the tragic hero backstory. Spider-Man was as grounded as a spider-themed hero could be; he struggled with relationships, money, school, and, most of all, responsibility. These challenges are what made him so endearing, and after only a few years he challenged the popularity of characters like Superman and Batman.
The latest big screen adaption, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is not about Peter Parker. The main character is a young Miles Morales, whose world comes crashing down after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Things start crashing quite literally, as multiple universes (Spider-Verses) start to intersect, forcing various Spider-People out of their home dimensions and into Miles’ world.
You will rejoice if you are a fan of Miles from the comics as he is given one of the most original superhero movies audiences have ever seen. If you have never heard of the character, then you will become a fan by the end of this film.
Miles is not Peter Parker. Miles lives in a world where Spidey already exists and he has to live up to the expectations of Spider-Man. His character feels like an allegory for Spider-Man fans who take the web-slinger’s motivations to heart, and how they struggle to apply those morals in the real world.
It takes Miles a long time to get his footing compared to other Spider-Man films where it seems like Peter discovers his powers, has a montage, and is suddenly in his suit fighting for justice. That montage that other films jump by so quickly is the focus of this movie. By the end of Miles’ journey, he has depth comparable to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original creation from 1962.
This could be a lot for a normal movie, but the animated flick takes it all in stride. Into the Spider-Verse is extremely well paced, and it moves through a large plot without patronizing its audience. The humour in the film ties it together without holding it back. The intense scenes land with gravitas, and the comedic aspects change scenes from superhero commonplace to original and fresh.
The animation is very jagged at times, but allows for intense character expression. This is a necessity as there is a large cast of characters who don’t get a lot of screen time. Their design, speech, and motivations could make them all main characters in their own movies. DC and Warner Bros should take note: focus on making a good movie with fleshed-out characters, and maybe then you can make a cinematic universe.
What makes Spider-Man resonate with people so well, especially with me, is that he is a super powered-being who is still subject to the toils of everyday life. Miles Morales adds to that mythos. Like Parker, he never wanted power. Miles wants to make a difference and rise up to the expectations people have for heroes, making him a compelling character both outside and underneath the mask.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the most endearing and entertaining movies of the year, so go check it out.