"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" wins the 2019 Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” wondrously hits reset on Spider-Man

February 26, 2019

Since the creation of Marvel, creator Stan Lee’s most famous hero, Spiderman, has been at the forefront of their most popular comics, television shows, and movies. Peter Parker’s story of a man turning into a crime-fighting vigilante after the death of his uncle Ben has been captured on the silver screen multiple times, from the original trilogy, to ‘The Amazing Spider-Man” series, to the current version adapted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ in 2017 and ‘Spider-Man: Away From Home’ coming later this year.

With that, the origin story has become so familiar to audiences that it has become repetitive. However, recent Oscar-winning film, “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” changes pace and focus, surprising and delighting comic-book fans by not only using animation and a catchy soundtrack, but also turning to another Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

With Miles Morales, the story of Spider-Man differs significantly from previous origin stories while still retaining the familiarity that makes the movie feel like a connection, not an alienation, to the Peter Parker known and loved. Other than the obvious changes of the protagonist and the use of animation, “Into the Spider-Verse” offers audiences what other Spider-Man movies cannot. It provides a look into the universe of the Spider-Man comics that extends from Peter Parker’s, using the perspective of its entire ensemble.

Photo courtesy of Flickr under Creative Commons.
Shameik Moore voices main character Miles Morales in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

The most notable is Peter Parker himself with a bit of a twist. Instead of the awkward version within the original trilogy, the tragically written and anger-issue warped version of Andrew Garfield’s Amazing-verse, or the young and starry-eyed version in Homecoming, we get a divorced, out-of-shape, and snarky Peter Parker, one that has been more developed in the comics than on screen. In fact, it is the mentor-mentee relationship between him and Miles in the comics that is the focus of the movie, though Miles definitely steals the spotlight in the end.

We also see a collection of characters along Miles’ journey to discovering his own origin as one of the Spider people (and…Pig?). The movie presents Gwen Stacy in the form of Spider-Gwen and other even more bizarre characters such as the wise-cracking, absurdist Spider-Ham (played by comedian John Mulaney), the tragically cliche Spider-Noir from the 1930s (played by Nick Cage), and the cutesy futurist Peni Parker aided by a animatronic controlled by a spider who is linked telepathically with Peni.

Not to mention the Villains, including the mysterious Prowler, the Kingpin and the star of the show, Doc Ock. Honestly, Doctor Octopus appearing as the mousy-looking but ruthless Olivia Octavius was a plot twist no one saw coming and was very different from the male-version of Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2.

But ultimately it is still Miles’ story in focus, with his own tragic story to follow. Throughout the movie, Miles tries to learn about his new superpowers and find how he fits into the ever-so-complicated superhero world. However what convinces Miles to become Spider-Man is not some major tragedy (see: Uncle) or some inspiring speech made by his fellow heroes but rather the words of his father, a regular cop on the street (who, ironically, views Spider-Man as a menace) who believes in Miles and his ability to be great at the path he chooses.

That faith, in addition to the Miles-Parker relationship, set Miles’ heroism into motion. The movie’s strength does not lie in some shock-factor like Garfield’s version, or the avoidance of origin within Holland’s Spider-Man, but rather the nuanced relationships of the characters in Miles’ world that pull the story together.

‘Into the Spider-Verse’ is a breathtaking spectacle of the best of Spider-Man, wrapped together with beautiful animations using comic-book inspired art and a blend of 3D and 2D animation that includes different art forms.

The film also features a wonderfully curated soundtrack that bounces elegantly from the fierce punch of ‘Start a Riot,’ the catchy sing-along ‘Sunflower,’ the motivational ‘Elevate’ and ‘What’s up Danger’ and many, many more.

The movie’s ability to provide both the familiarity of every Spider-Man adaptation while simultaneously starting fresh with Miles Morales and a new universe is what makes the movie one of the best Marvel has to offer. 


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