Review: In a Live-Action Era, ‘Spider-Verse’ Brings Comics to Life
(This article is being re-published as Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse has won an Oscar for best animated feature at the 91st Academy Awards.)
While most production houses are venturing into live-action superhero movies, even adapting animated films, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Columbia Pictures took a complete U-turn with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – and that bet certainly paid off. Their best validation? The movie just bagged the 2019 Golden Globes for Best Animated Feature Film.
Undoubtedly, it is the animation that steals the show, treating the user to a multi-dimensional mind-trip, a sensory overload complemented by a fine selection of sounds to set the mood.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse rejuvenates the love for comic books by bringing the comic book to life. From split-screens, panels, comic strip-like transitions to comic-like speech/thought bubbles, the movie looks like an animated comic book.
But before we move on to the plot of the story, be warned: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Watch the trailer here:
The movie follows the life of Miles Morales, a black-Latino teenager from Brooklyn who, as per most origin stories of our friendly neighbourhood superhero, gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains his powers.
But before the audience can sigh about the fact that this movie is yet another version of that same old Peter Parker origin story that they have begun to grow tired of, the movie squashes that notion by changing the narrative altogether – it introduces spidermen and spiderwomen from different universes.
Kingpin opens a portal to multiple dimensions in an attempt to bring back his late wife and son, in the process of which the Peter Parker of Miles’ universe dies, but the portal brings in the spideys from the multiverse, namely Spider-Noir, Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy), Spider-Ham, Peni Parker and Peter Parker of another timeline, and along with it, a host of villains including the Prowler, Olivia Octavious and more.
For someone who doesn’t have a fair knowledge about Spiderman comics and his universe, all the information can get a little overwhelming, so brushing up on the comics can make the experience even more fruitful. But even without prior spidey-knowledge, the movie is just as enjoyable.
However, the problem with introducing multiple characters is poor character development for many of them. Characters like Prowler, Spiderman Noir, Peni Parker and Spider Ham just don’t get a proper backstory.
The other Peter Parker, a more given-up-on-life Peter, is vested with the job of teaching Miles how to become Spiderman. It’s a job he carries out with the aid of the other spideys, who are trying to carry out their mission of opening the portal again to go back to their original universes and destroy the device.
Miles, on the other hand, is struggling with trying to be a superhero and controlling his powers, while sharing a complicated relationship with his father (who happens to hate Spiderman). The conversations, the emotions shared between them is portrayed intimately, humanising the characters.
The classic Marvel comic reliefs every once in a while add a substantial amount to the plot, while trying to balance out the barrage of emotions a teenage boy goes through.
All in all, the trio of Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman have spectacularly portrayed the life of Miles Morales, while bending the rules of modern-day superhero movies to bring forth an almost perfectly synced rhythm of visuals, sound and story. For anyone who loves comic books and superheros, this movie will be nothing short of marvel-ous, and even an average cinema-goer can enjoy this movie just for the way it has been made. It is a breath of fresh air.