Look into those big white eyes surrounded by a red background and black webs. It’s one of the most recognizable faces in popular history. When you see it, you instantly hear the thwip of web-shooters and see the red and blue blur soaring across the New York skyline, swapping wise cracks with villains and doing his best to live up to the power – and responsibility – given to him.
But who’s under the mask? Well… that’s just it. It could be anyone, and it always could have been. And that’s one of the many reasons why Spider-Man means so much to so many people, and why Into The Spider-Verse is unquestionably the greatest Spider-Man film ever made.
Packed with fantastic visuals pumping along to the beat of a catchy-as-hell soundtrack, we’re transported both literally and visually into the pages of the comic book. While it blends countless storylines well-known to fans of the ’90s Animated Series, the Sam Raimi films and the comics alike, the main story follows the emergence of Miles Morales, a young teen trying to figure just what he wants to do in life when he gets bit by a radioactive spider.
However, before Miles even realises just what’s happened to him he becomes tangled up in the web of a villainous scheme that puts not only his universe but the fate of all universes at risk. He’d better hurry up and get to grips with these powers! Thankfully he has a teacher, but unfortunately it’s an older Peter Parker slap bang in the middle of a midlife crisis.
This film hits every note of a classic superhero flick, nailing the same impressive beats that got us older Parker fans reading in the first place but keeping it fresh by showing us an origin with a hero for this generation. The animation throughout is absolutely stunning, giving the characters a cartoonish feel at times with the bright colours and shading of the old pop art dots popping off the screen.
The story mixes in some grown-up humour (subtly slid in there for the parents) along with some classic slapstick scenes which serve to break up the downright nerve-wracking action scenes.
But it’s not just Miles himself who has been updated, the classic roster of villains get their own facelifts, each fitting perfectly in this universe. It’s also impressive the way that they’re all played equally without being uncomfortable not squeezed in (see Spider-Man 3 for an example of this… if you can stomach it). Some genuine stand-outs are the utter tank that is The Kingpin and the genuinely (and surprisingly) terrifying Prowler.
In a similar vein, all the Spideys all get their own airtime, some more than others but each making enough of an impact to make you feel invested in their stories. Its not a film about one Spider-Man or Spider-Woman, it’s a film about family and the friends and people around you who push you in the right direction, whether that be putting on a mask or looking underneath and seeing your own potential to be a better person.
That ethos was at the heart of Stan Lee’s and Steve Ditko’s original decision to fully cover up Spidey’s face with his mask, and it was their intention in showing Parker as an imperfect teen fighting the good fight as best he could. We are supposed to look under the mask and find the hero in all of us, and all these decades later films like this truly show how a new generation can carry on that inspiring message.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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