“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”: a complex film that weaves together perfectly

4/5 ****

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), directed by Rodney Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti, is an animated film about Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teenager who is overwhelmed after switching to a new private school. After being bitten by a radioactive spider and witnessing the death of Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Chris Pine), Miles must learn to control his powers to become the next Spider-Man while trying to help Spider-People from other dimensions get back home and defeat the crime lord Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). The film combines computer and hand-drawn animation, making the viewer feel like they stepped inside a comic book. The film really leans into the fact that it looks like a moving comic book, with text on the screen showing the characters’ thoughts and onomatopoeias appearing when someone gets hit really hard. It took the animators two years to produce a ten-second clip that they were happy with, and all that hard work paid off.

The film is extremely well written. Each character and relationship feels extremely real and believable. Miles acts and talks like a teenager. In his introductory scene, Miles is listening to music and singing along, but fumbling the lyrics that he does not know, all while his parents are yelling at him to get ready for school. When Miles is introduced to Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), a Spider-Man from another universe, he is disappointed by Peter B.’s reluctance to teach him how to control his new powers. Then, as the film goes on and the stakes become more and more dire, Peter B. becomes more of a mentor and parental figure to Miles, growing to care about him. By the end of the film, both characters are greatly influenced by the other. Finally, Miles’ relationships with his father, Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry), and his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) are arguably the core of the film. Miles and Jefferson are drifting apart because Miles feels like he has too much pressure and that Jefferson does not understand him. He goes to his Uncle Aaron to release his anger and delve into his love of street art. After Aaron’s death, which Miles witnesses, Jefferson, who had a strained relationship with his brother, goes to Miles’s dorm to try and fix the rift before it becomes unfixable. By the end, the two begin to see each other and understand each other more.

Another layer of the film’s brilliance is the symbolism. For much of the film, Miles wears a store-bought Spider-Man costume that does not fit him properly. When he buys it, the audience is given foreshadowing, a joke and a Stan Lee cameo all at once. Miles asks if he could return the costume if it does not fit and Stan Lee responds that the suit will always fit eventually before the shot widens to reveal a sign that says “no returns or refunds.” However, in the end, the suit does end up fitting because Miles learns that in order to be his own Spider-Man, he cannot be a copy of Peter Parker. He has to be his own Spider-Man. He has to be Miles Morales. For the final battle, he arrives in his own custom Spider-Man suit, symbolizing that he has finally come into his own and learned to control his powers.

Overall, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is an amazing film that clearly had a lot of love and care put into it, and it is impossible to talk about it all in such a short review. From the art style to the characters to the writing and to the music, this film is extremely well crafted and a fun, enjoyable experience for people of all ages. I cannot wait for the sequel!