I’ve happily paid to see the newest Spider-Man movie twice, and every time I leave the theater I want to watch it all over again. And no, I’m not talking about Tom Holland’s movie—even if he is a great Spider-Man—I’m talking about the beautiful animated film that Sony released recently: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” I think it’s safe to say that Spider-Man is probably one of the most recognizable superheroes. With Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland paying Spider-Man in three different series, it would seem like we’ve seen it all.
Sony has given us this gem of a movie. It’s personally my favorite Spider-Man movie to this day. The inclusive characters, unique art style, creative script and story make it no surprise how successful this film is.
Minor Spoiler Alert: I want to point out that I will be talking in depth about the “Spider-Verse” film, but don’t worry, there aren’t big storyline spoilers. But be warned that I will be talking about the characters and using gifs from scenes in the film!
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” centers on Miles Morales, a young half-black, half-Puerto Rican teenager from Brooklyn, and his internal struggles. Miles has to face his fears of living up to the expectation of his family, his school and himself, and when Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider (you know where this is going), he develops the infamous Spider-Man powers. However, this isn’t your typical Spider-Man film, because Miles soon discovers he’s not alone; there are other Spider-Men… and women… and pigs? They need to team up to defeat the villain and go back to their own dimensions.
First thing’s first: We need to talk about the stigma of Animation
Sony’s “Spider-Verse” movie is incredibly groundbreaking, and yet people still haven’t seen the film for the sole reason that it is an animated movie, which really boils my blood. I find it incredulous to group together animated films and declare it to be a childish medium. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when I’ve asked people if they have seen this movie and they respond with, “It’s animated right? Doesn’t that make it a kid’s movie?”
Brad Bird, director of “Incredibles 2,” fights this notion with the same passion as he defends his film, saying just because his film is animated doesn’t mean it’s a “kid’s movie.” The reason I rambled on to this for a bit is because I implore you to do yourself a favor and enjoy the beauty that is animation. So much artwork and hard work go into these beautiful films, and it’s so disappointing to see people brush it off because of its gross stigma that animation is for children’s movies. (Bonus: It’s not confirmed whether this is true, but I feel like the animators and scriptwriters give a little nod to this in the film as they animated Peter Porker saying “You got a problem with cartoons?”)
The visual appeal of “Spider-Verse’s” artstyle
Aside from my personal rant about animation’s stigma, the art and animation in “Spider-Verse” is BREATHTAKING! As famous Animation Art Director Yingjue Che says in her tweet, “I loved a lot of animated films this year but when I walked out of the theater from Spider-Verse, the world seemed… just duller than when I went in, that film truly deserves all the accolades.”
Her words could not have been more perfect. An incredible piece of art, Sony’s film is nothing like any other animated film I’ve ever seen before; it’s a complete breath of fresh air. It’s ingenious, creative and beautifully unique. Throughout the movie, Sony uses a new animation process and technology (which they are currently in the process of patenting—with all their hard work, rightfully so), which gives the spot-on illusion of feeling like you’re reading a comic book, including Ben-Day dots (a system of shading commonly used in comic books), thought balloons, panels, written sound effects and even the 3-D multi-color outline around characters and backgrounds.
Sony keeps the various art styles authentic to the comic book origins, and the characters’ styles are striking. They even gave each Spider-Man a different texture sheet throughout the film to show the difference in their dimensions, mind = blown. How can you make something look part of a comic with flat symbols yet give it depth and authentic movement? Watch this movie and find out. Sony combines the authenticity and flow of two-dimensional animation, keeping ink smears to show movement throughout the film, with a beautiful modeling of this world. It gives all of the dimensions and characters such a wonderful and real personality; you become completely immersed in this beautiful world that Sony and Marvel have created.
A standing ovation to three dimensional characters
Not only is the art beautiful, but the characters are also wonderfully written. Miles’ character is not only inclusive to the superhero world but his storyline isn’t centered on his ethnicity. Similar to how Jordan Peele describes his motive to simply include black characters in Hollywood as their own characters not centered on their skin, “Spider-Verse” does the exact same thing. Miles is just a kid, trying to find his way within himself and dealing with the complexities of being a superhero. It’s inclusive and it’s normal, as it should be.
Then we move onto Peter B. Parker, who shows us what a superhero’s life is after the shiny years. His character is authentic and real, and his sardonic humor illustrates the real world of a superhero, allowing us to have a glimpse into the deeper internal struggles of life itself. Gwen Stacy isolates herself from friends to avoid becoming close to people. We are reminded that they are still real humans dealing with real problems, superhero stuff aside.
And while Penni Parker, SpiderNoir and Peter Porker serve as comedic reliefs for the film, their different personalities give so much depth to the different universes in the film. “Spider-Verse” shows us that we are all Spider-Man, because Spider-Man is a way of being, not just his powers. We all have the power to take control of our life, we all have to “take a leap of faith” and we can all “wear the mask.”
Sony has created a world in which we all take part, they have opened the doors for unique filmmaking, and I, for one, cannot wait to see the impact on future animated films. Please go support this film while it’s still in theaters, you won’t regret it.