It is unfathomable that an animated superhero movie, emulating the style in which comic books have long been drawn and written, would find its way to the top. This is especially perplexing considering the millions of dollars spent on CGI and green screen action sequences and characters, such as in Black Panther and Infinity War.
But that is exactly what has happened with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It is a story about our favorite neighborhood Spider-Man, except this is the first time we’ve met him. And him. And her. And him. And her and the robot. And the pig.
Into the Spider-Verse follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teen living in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry), is a police officer and his mother works as a nurse. He’s a new student at an exemplary private school, where he boards during the week and is adjusting to his new surroundings. One night, however, he sneaks out to meet his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who has an interesting past and it’s suggested that he’s still involved with some less-than-legal activities. Nonetheless, Aaron is somebody Miles can talk to and trust, especially when his father is seemingly strict and doesn’t always understand him.
On this night, things change for Miles during an outing with his uncle. He is unknowingly bitten by a radioactive spider, which soon turns him into Spider-Man. The other Spider-Man. The next day, he quickly realizes the changes he’s going through and what they mean, which leads him to travel back to where he was bitten and he ends up coming face-to-face with the Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Jake Johnson).
The rest of the movie unwinds as an adventure of self-discovery, reflection, and familial relationships. As Miles learns to take on his new powers, which come with great responsibility, he will be forced to make some hard decisions and to face the world as it is. This, understandably, will be difficult for a teenage boy, but due to a freak accident concerning the multi-verse, he isn’t alone in coming to terms with his new self.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best superhero movie of 2018. This movie maintains constant conflict for the main character and those he comes into contact with, it invests time in developing its characters, and it is outrageously funny. The screening audience I was with would not stop laughing as there were many lines and scenes which invoked comedy, even as the story dealt with dramatic tones.
It is any wonder that, just two months ago, Sony missed the mark with its production of Venom. And, when compared to Marvel titles earlier this year, Infinity War and Black Panther, Spider-Verse delivers a movie that is engaging, original, and self-aware. Spider-Verse takes on the memes, criticism, and pop culture references that have long been associated with the titular character and this makes for an especially rewarding viewing experience.
Worth mentioning is Stan Lee and his appearance in this movie. So soon after the death of Lee, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse pays tribute to the man and the scene he pops up in turns out to be an emotional one, which is fitting under these circumstances. Spider-Man, after all, was Stan Lee’s favorite character.