Besides a chance trailer and a friend’s hearty recommendation, I began Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with very few expectations and little info. I came out of it quite satisfied, with many pros and only a few cons.
One of the best bits of this reboot is that it is a fun celebration of the character Spider-man and the comic world. The film provides an entertaining exploration of parallel universes and how many ways the Peter Parker Spider-Man we all know could have turned out differently. In fact, I noticed that the film created an unstated Spider-Man formula. The hero is not one person. Peter Parker doesn’t equal Spider-Man. Instead, power from a radioactive spider + a desire to help others + personal loss + a leap of faith = Spider-Man. This creates an “everyman” theme, reminding the audience that a hero can be anyone.
In fact, this formula ties directly into some of the movie’s other key themes. When Miles Morales attempts to quote “with great power comes great responsibility” to a disillusioned Spider-Man, Peter Parker abruptly cuts him off. Previous Spider-Man movies, especially the Tobey Maguire trilogy, emphasized this theme, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse instead focuses on “leaps of faith,” perseverance, and second chances. While those may sound cheesy, I found the themes more broadly applicable to real life than the original heroic themes. After all, we constantly take risks and choose to be vulnerable. Being determined enough to try in the first place and try again when something doesn’t work out the way you want it to is critical in life. Yet, as the movie shows, fear often paralyzes us from taking the leap. Pride stops us from asking for second chances or trying again. And our relationships and lives suffer, even as we attempt to protect ourselves.
Another aspect of the movie I enjoyed was the style and artwork. Into the Spider-Verse introduced me to a fresh perspective on Spider-Man movies as it incorporated comic-style animation in an impressive, creative, and entertaining way. I especially like the way the movie uses comic panels and textboxes to make the movie appear to be a literal comic book come to life.
I only have a few minor criticisms. First, if you have a tendency to experience ocular migraines, you may not want to watch this movie, or at least parts of it. Several scenes are headache-inducing with their psychedelic palettes and flashing lights. Also, I occasionally found the soundtrack very jarring, and the grating moments in the music seemed disconnected from the rest of the movie and its overall style. And a final tiny criticism I have is that the final fight scene felt really long, and the action was hard to follow during it.
Wrapping It Up
Until my friend recommended Into the Spider-Verse, I hadn’t seriously considered watching it. The trailers and other ads hadn’t really piqued my interest, and I was becoming more and more burnt out on superheroes in general and Spider-Man in particular. But I ended up having a blast watching the 2018 animated reboot. I hadn’t expected that moviemakers would be able to add anything worthwhile to the current Spider-Man film portfolio. With its creative aesthetic, thoughtful themes, fun characters, and freshened up storyline, though, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a pleasant surprise.