Sit down children and get ready to hear a story from long ago about a cinematic universe far far away. The year is 2002, the New Jersey Nets are the hottest team in the NBA, R. Kelly and Jay-Z put out a joint album, and Sam Rami makes every comic book nerd's dream come true and releases Spider-Man.
The Web Head would go on to have the biggest opening weekend in movie history and change the world of superhero movies forever, for better or worse. Since then we have seen 6 different Spider Man movies (of different levels of quality) and Peter Parker go from possibly the most popular comic book character to possibly the most popular character in American entertainment period.
One of my proudest achievements is being there at midnight day one to see Spidey hit the big screen but I have not let nostalgia cloud my judgement. I have seen Spider-Man more times than I can count, with my last viewing coming as recently as earlier this year and while it has aged a bit since 2002, it is still in my humble opinion the best Spider-Man movie to date, well that is until Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came along.
Without getting too into spoiler territory, this may not be the Spider-Man you are used to. While Peter Parker is present, he is not the main character or even the main Spider-Man. This time around the story centers around Miles Morales who if you are not aware was created in 2011 by Brian Michael Bendis during the Ultimate run, which is considered one of if not the best arc's for Spider-Man.
While his origin in this movie differs a bit from that in Ultimate Spider-Man there are similarities in some of the events. At any rate a certain villain (who will remain nameless) has built a massive particle accelerator so that he/she/they can replace their dead loved ones from this universe with those of another. In the process Peter Parker Spider-Man thwarts the attempt thus spilling different Spider-Men from other universes into this one.
Now this movie may sound confusing but really that is about as confusing as it gets. Part of the brilliance of this movie is it's ease of comprehension amidst a movie that is absolutely filled to the brim with stuff going on. Lets start with just how darn cool this movie looks.
You would be hard pressed to find a more stylish movie, animated or otherwise. Every frame feels like someone said "we can make that look better" and then did. It is probably cliche to say at this point but that is probably because it is true, this movie feels as close to a cinematic comic book as anyone has ever come. Complete with text boxes and onomatopoeia overlays sprayed all over the place. It has to really be seen to be believed so you are just going to have to trust me on this, but one thing I can translate is the voice acting.
I think one of the best ways to credit someones voice acting is by saying you could. not immediately tell who the actor was. I consider myself somewhat of an expert at recognizing actors voices and for the life of me I was barely able to tell any of them in this movie. Aside from the few I knew going in and the ones that are obvious basically everyone falls into these characters and gives them so much depth.I stopped trying to figure out their real world identities and became engrossed by the ones on screen. More than that there is just so much talent all over the place and that is not just in the voice acting.
Peter Ramsay and Rodney Rothman share directorial duties on Into the Spider-Verse and do an amazing job wrangling all of this together. Neither of whom I had heard of before this but will be paying attention to now. The ones who I had heard of are Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are responsible for The Lego Movie and both 21 and 22 Jump Street. After being relived of their duties directing Solo (which in hindsight feels like the worst firing since Art Modell and Bill Belichick) I have been waiting to see how Lord and Miller would bounce back and oh boy have they.
Lord and Rothman both receive credits for writing the script and this may be the best part of the movie. Into the Spider-Verse could easily have turned out too confusing or cornbally but darn it if they did not side step these beautifully. I was also expecting something that I see in a lot of animated movies for a younger audience and that is muted themes. Lord and Rothman find time to support a strong message while not sacrificing entertainment for both children and adults.
Really I think this is why Into the Spider-Verse is so great, it brings something for every age of Spider-Fan. If you are an old school fan there is tons and tons of fan service here complete with some fantastic tongue in cheek references to Spider-Man throughout the years. There is plenty of Spider-Man meme material for the "millennials" that, and I can't believe I am about to say this but is done tastefully but most importantly this movie is a fantastic place for the very young fan base to begin to love Spider-Man.
Almost the whole movie I kept thinking of how much I would have loved this movie as a kid. Like I said before, this movie is modeled so closely to a comic book that any kid with any sort of interest in the comics would be drawn to it but the overall tone of the movie is spot on for any youngster. I almost envy the kids who will really be experiencing Spider-Man for the first time with this movie and the lifelong fandom that it is certainly going to awaken in a large group of kids.
At the beginning of this article I made a pretty bold claim. I have thought this over in the days since I have seen Into the Spider-Verse and I am more sure now than I was then that this is the best cinematic Spider-Man experience, bar none. Into the Spider-Verse takes all of the great stuff about the character and brings them to a new audience while fully satisfying the already established fans. It flawlessly introduces Miles Morales to the masses and takes notes from the years of Spider-Man stuff we already have and improves the formula in almost every way. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only one of the best animated movies I have seen this year but one of the best movies to be released in 2018.