WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS for the movie’s first 25 minutes are contained in this review.
25 years after the release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, we finally have an animated superhero movie that rivals the greatness of that now-classic film. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse delivers on every level of what you would expect from an animated Spider-Man movie to give you.
But it goes a little bit beyond that. Peter Parker has an incredible presence in many unexpected forms here, but the lead is the comic book fan-favorite character Miles Morales, a half-African-American, half-Puerto Rican-American teenager from Brooklyn.
The film opens with Miles being your average young teen, doubting what he can actually do to make a difference in the world. He lives away from home, on campus, in a gifted school because of his own hidden genius. Perhaps in an attempt to be just a “normal kid,” Miles purposefully flunks his tests in school. He knows every answer to a test he takes at one point and willfully gets them wrong in an attempt to be get kicked out of the school.
While his teachers aren’t having it and can clearly see a spark in the kid, Miles continues to doubt himself. This is all before Miles gets that fateful spider bite we recognize all too well from past live-action Spider-Man films.
Miles has an incredible relationship with his Uncle Aaron, who he has a soft spot for, and likewise Aaron for Miles. This becomes a critical plot point in the movie and develops into major happenings as the film moves on.
One night, Aaron takes Miles into the bowels of New York City to a hidden place he’s found. This is where Miles comes into contact with a spider that enables him to become the newest interpretation of the web slinger.
Later, after Miles has acquired his Spider-Like Powers, he runs into the real deal: The 26-year-old Peter Parker version of Spider-Man, who is battling the likes of Kingpin, The Green Goblin and The Prowler, in the Underground Tunnel his Uncle perused him to.
This is where the adventure completely takes off in unexpected ways. After this part of the film, we truly delve into the Spider-Verse part of the movie, where a young Miles, newly born of his spider abilities, runs into a middle- aged version of Peter Parker. This is a version of the character we’ve never seen on film before.
Here, Peter is somewhat of a 40-year-old failure, slightly overweight and depressed by the end of his marriage with Mary Jane Watson. But his sense of duty still remains in the haunting words of his Uncle Ben: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
From here on out, it’s clear that Peter takes those words seriously, and decides to use his knowledge as an aged Spider-Man to teach the webs of the job in question to young Miles, whom he takes on as his new prodigy, as the universe turns upside down.
Filled with heart and humor, outstanding story-telling and a tried and true origin story centering around its youngest protagonist, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is an animated movie that delves deep into the heart, soul and funny bone of every human being who has ever believed in being a hero.