Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Copyright Sony Pictures
The multiverse is not a new idea for the Marvel universe. Hundreds of Earths exist in the continuity – many of them often made for one issue of a comic and that’s all. One of the most important ones until it more or less ended in 2015 was Earth-1610, otherwise known as the Ultimate Universe. That universe that gave us the Brooklyn born, biracial Miles Morales, with a new suite of spider like abilities but the same mission – save New York City from threats in the most quippy way possible. In the new blockbuster film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we watch Miles gain his abilities and come into his own – not just to save the New York City of Earth-1610, but all of them. However, it’s not done without the help of several other Spider-people.
To put it plainly, Into the Spider-Verse is a love letter to Spider-Man in all of his iterations: the comics, the live-action films, the classic and often meme’d cartoon, even the much maligned ice cream novelty treat. Not just that, it’s a love letter to comics in general and animation. Each spider-person comes with their own art style, each rendered differently, which makes plain that they are not of this universe. If you love this character, you will love this film because it loves the Spider-Man universe and all of the characters and tropes therein.
Into the Spider-Verse gives us a kind and hopeful Mary Jane Watson, a firm and capable Aunt May, several wise-cracking Peter Parkers, and all of the most iconic Spider-Man villains—Green Goblin, Doc Oct, and Kingpin—if not just a little different. It gives us origin stories like nearly all Spider films do, but for each and every spider-person they introduce. From the standard Spider-Man to the washed up despondent remains of the older and failed Peter B. Parker (which I believe from the main Marvel Universe, Earth-616), the Earth-65 Spider-Woman Gwen Stacy (better known as Spider-Gwen), Earth-90214’s Spider-Man Noir, anime styled Penni Parker and her Spider Mech SP//dr from Earth-14512, and the Looney Tunes–styled Spider-Ham from Larval Earth. Note that absolutely none of these characters are newly created; all of them had existed in comics before their joining the film.
Beyond that, all of the film is amazing – from the immersion in the deep world of Spider-Man, to the care taken in depicting each spider-person as a completely different animation style, and the soundtrack that blends modern and 90’s hip hop that perfectly encapsulates the character of Miles Morales, and the world he and we exist in. A soundtrack so amazing, I should mention, that it is currently number one on iTunes for albums as of this writing.
My only complaint about this film is the inclusion of Peter Porker the Spider-Ham, but that is merely a matter of personal taste. I was never one for the Looney Tunes style of comedy. Although, comedian John Mulaney’s voice acting as the porcine hero was amusing. So many other versions of spider-people exist. And so, I don’t know if that is one I would have gone with over Silk, Spider-Man 2099 (who features in a great post-credit sequence), or even a Venom. I know that in the Edge of the Spider-Verse event, which this film sideways adapts, Spider-Ham does feature. However, so do all kinds of other interactions that don’t come up in this film, so I’m not sure if I would have brought him into this one myself.
I cannot conclude this without mentioning Stan Lee, who has a cameo in this film and is memorialized with a quote at the end before the credits. With Steve Ditko, he created the original Spider-Man and much of the Marvel characters we know and love today. Unlike the nearly mythological characters of DC Comics, his characters were undeniably human. They all deal with both problems super and mundane. This and the cameo already filmed for Avengers: Endgame, are the two last times we will see or hear Lee in the movies inspired from his creations, and the world is a better place for having him in it.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse loves the medium that it is, and is unabashedly proud of itself. It is a comic book movie, sure, but it is also an example of stunning animation and filmmaking. It embraces the history of its characters and doesn’t shy away from some of the mistakes made in previous iterations, and in my opinion, is the best Spider-Man movie to date. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is in theatres now, and both its score and soundtrack are available from Republic Records.
David Castro is a Puerto Rican writer from New York City. He has worked on the upcoming Undead supplement for Chill Third Edition and is working on launching a Patreon. You can find him on Twitter (@theinkedknight), on Tumblr (thedevilsyouknew), on Facebook (facebook.com/inkstainedstudios), and at davidrcastro.com.