Animated movies seem to be kind of one-note these days. When it comes down to it, the animation for Pixar, Illumination, and Dreamworks all look pretty similar. So when something like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes out, it can be quite jarring. But in its favor, the animation in this movie is one of the best things it has going for it.
This movie asks, “What if the pages of a comic book moved?” and gives you its best guess. And its best guess is pretty mesmerizing to look at. It is very stylized and looks like it was hand drawn on the page. Thought and speaking bubbles come up and there are the classic “BOOM” and “POWs” on the screen during fight scenes. It’s just a whole lot of fun to watch and refreshing to take in, given that it is a completely new and unique style of animation.
The animation then lends itself to some really enjoyable and unique action sequences. Somehow, it allows the emotions of the story to really hit, more than they would had it been done in the classic Dreamworks style. Because this film gets into some really deep and heavy themes of loss and identity, as you could expect from a Spider-Man movie.
Miles Morales, the main character, and Peter Parker have both experienced huge amounts of loss. Peter obviously lost Uncle Ben, but this version of the character has gone through much more than we are used to seeing from him. He is an alternate dimension version of Peter Parker, which means the details of his backstory vary from what we are used to seeing. He’s broken and hurt – in a way, this character who originated from Stan Lee trying to create a character that was relatable to an average person, has become even more relatable. But he’s able to pass on excellent lessons to Miles.
The main crux of this movie is that anyone can be Spider-Man, basically. You have it in you to go above and beyond what you think your personal limits are, and I think that is an amazing message. We learn and grow with Miles and it is very effective. He’s a well-written and believable character and it’s awesome to bring more representation into the superhero genre.
Unfortunately, even with all of these positives, I’m not quite ready to dub this one of the greatest superhero movies of all-time yet. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great. It has a lot going for it. But with all that it does differently, it still hits many of the same beats that we’ve seen in this genre so many times. Because of that, the story doesn’t seem wholly original.
But it is still a great movie. It’s fun, it’s hilarious, it has great voice acting and it’s hard-hitting. It’s a special movie that hopefully starts a trend of new and innovative animation within the genre.