Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Review - The Best Superhero Movie of the Year

But perhaps the movie’s most impressive feat is how it never loses sight of its humanity despite all of its day-glo stylings, something made even more remarkable when one of its supporting players is an anthropomorphic pig in a Spider-Man costume. In addition to the endlessly sympathetic Miles and Peter, Brian Tyree Henry provides emotional grounding with a warm performance as Miles’ father, whose relationship with his son is quite distinct from the more familiar Peter/Aunt May relationship. And yes, May Parker is here (voiced by Lily Tomlin, no less!) stealing scenes with unexpectedly wry humor and timing.

And what’s a Spider-Man movie without his incredible rogues’ gallery? Our heroes’ woes and the breach in reality are the result of Wilson Fisk (Liev Schrieber) going far outside his organized crime comfort zone to do something very bad… but for almost understandable reasons (there’s this movie’s underlying humanity again). He’s aided by the Prowler, a third-rate Marvel Comics baddie who is perhaps the best visual in a movie with no shortage of them. Prowler is all purple and shadow, more menacing than most live action Marvel villains, and his arrival is always heralded by unsettling sound effects and terrific stabs of music. There are others, and I won’t spoil them, but do keep an eye out for Kathryn Hahn voicing a scientist with a secret of her own.

There have been plenty of good, even great, Spider-Man cartoons on the small screen, and Spidey has been (mostly) luckier than some of his superheroic colleagues in live action on the big screen. But this is different. Using every possible advantage of its format, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse never misses an opportunity to be playful, including the moment the Columbia Pictures logo appears on screen, frequently alternating between comic book, almost pop art stylings (right down to the Ben-Day dots) and anarchic, graffiti-inspired visuals, all the way through its closing credits (and, of course, beyond). 

Like Logan, The Dark Knight, Deadpool, or Guardians of the Galaxy, this is the rare modern superhero movie that leaves you wondering how they got away with it, why such freedom was afforded these creators, and when we might see something like it again. Just last year, Marvel Studios righted the ship for Spidey in live action with Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was refreshing for both its straightforward approach to Peter himself and the novelty of seeing the character in the MCU. But here comes Into the Spider-Verse to remind everyone that you don’t need a shared universe of dozens of films to tell a big story, and that great characters can pull their own weight just fine, thank you very much. For comic book fans, there are endless easter eggs both of the traditional “spot the Spidey trivia” variety to the kind of sharp, timely pop culture jokes that Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs specialized in (pay special attention to the billboards in Times Square). And while there’s plenty of room for a sequel (which, along with that Spider-Gwen spinoff, is already in development), none of this fan service gets in the way.

Bouncing from one dizzying action sequence to the next, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse could easily have become a migraine-inducing chore. It’s anything but. It took three directors (Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman) and countless animators to thread that needle, but the movie never pulls the same trick twice, and even its most visually intense moments are in service of the story, often broken up with impeccably placed gags. By the time Miles truly embraces his role as Spider-Man, you’ve already seen a lot, and that’s where the movie chooses to deliver its most graceful, kinetic sequence. It somehow feels understated in comparison to the rest of the film, yet it’s one of the best big screen moments in Spider-Man history. And it belongs to Miles Morales.

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  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • The animation and the novelty of its crazy style
  • a genuinely new side of the character.
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  • along with that Spider-Gwen spinoff
  • You can read more of his work here
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