Opinion: Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse animation film introduces unique concept
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” swung into theaters Dec. 14, 2018, and, after just five weeks, has webbed more than $300 million at the box office worldwide.
Marvel Entertainment, Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation joined forces to deliver a unique and original Spider-Man story packed with riveting animation, relatable characters and — most importantly — lots of fan nostalgia.
Created on a $90 million budget, “Into the Spider-Verse” quickly gained a mesmerizing profit, earning more than $150 million in the United States alone. It received an astounding 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.7/10 on IMDb and 87 percent on Metacritic.
It collected more than $35 million on opening night, making it the third most watched premiere in the last 365 days, sitting close behind “Wreck it Ralph: Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “Incredibles 2.” The rapid success of the newest “Spider-Man” movie will possibly translate into an Oscar – the film is nominated in the Best Animated Feature Film category.
The movie received immense applause for exploring a concept foreign to many Marvel fans: the spider-verse.
Unlike its predecessors, “Into the Spider-Verse” introduces spider-men (and women) from alternate dimensions, each cosmos slightly different from the rest.
The Spider-Man multi-verse has always existed, but the latest animation is the first of the modern spider-man movies to break the traditional mold of Peter Parker’s story to explore other spider-man characters.
At the beginning, the audience meets Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino from Brookland, New York. Although he excels academically, Morales finds more comfort living the hip-hop street life as a graffiti artist. He spends most of his free time drawing, spray painting, slapping graffiti stickers around town or hanging out with his uncle, Aaron. The movie does a great job integrating hip-hop music to compliment Morales’s personality, a sharp contrast from the familiar films.
Morales hides behind a stimulus of rebellion, a characteristic that abruptly collides with his destiny to become New York’s greatest hero.
Throughout the movie, Morales struggles to cope with his new superpowers: climbing up walls, swinging, electrocution and invisibility. Even with help from Peter Parker (from an alternate dimension), Morales fails to quickly find his bearings.
Morales meets multiple spider-heroes trapped in his own dimension, which resulted as a by-product of the evil Kingpin’s attempt to open the portal of dimensions. Morales and his new sticky friends combat multiple marvel super villains, including Kingpin, to close the portal and return each spider-man to his or her original dimension.
The most intriguing aspect of this animation was its strong character development and nostalgic comic book tenacity.
As a fan of the comics, I was pleased to see the movie stay true to its original aesthetics. Many of its action sequences (punches, kicks, swings, etc.) were replaced with literary, bubbled onomatopoiesis, appealing to the artistic richness found in the original comics. This was both visually attractive and calming, which was needed, considering the movie’s intense story line and moral significance.
The best character qualities are limits, struggles and low aspects, not super-human strength or moral hierarchy. For example, the traditional Peter Parker struggles with finances, physical appearance and the loss of Uncle Ben. Those aspects are far more compelling than his supernatural strength and willful heroism.
Each Spider-Man in previous movies experienced depressingly low moments in their lives, and “Into the Spider-Verse” does not shy away from that model. Morales, similar to Parker, loses someone very close, which ultimately pushes him to take a leap of faith to discover his role as Spider-Man.
Likewise, even Kingpin experienced similar misfortunes, creating understanding and sympathy from the viewer. The tragic death of his wife and son inspired him to illicitly bridge a portal between alternate dimensions and his own in hopes of reuniting with his family.
Overall, “Into the Spider-Verse” is a fun and emotional movie that satisfies all requirements for the greatest super hero franchise of our time. I cannot wait for a sequel.