After all the live action incarnations of Spider-Man since 2002, you’d be forgiven for questioning the relevance of Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. The dwindling Raimi Trilogy almost ate itself and the much divisive Garfield installments were just enough for SONY to keep Spider-Man in their licencing web. So aware, in fact, of Marvel’s cinematic behemoth, that SONY threw in with Marvel for Civil War and no one seemed to notice when we settled for the Homecoming incarnation. What then could an animated feature have to offer after all over 16 years of trial and error? The answer is something truly spectacular.
Into The Spiderverse is effortless in its execution. Neither playing to kids or adults, it gets to play fast-and-loose. Aware of the possible origin story fatigue that even Homecoming sidestepped, Spiderverse completely owns it – “My name’s Peter Parker. I’m pretty sure you know the rest.” We really do , so why waste anyone’s time? The carefully chosen narrative is a roller coaster of well told delights. So much so, you won’t even realise you are, in fact, slap-bang in the middle of an origin movie.
Into The Spiderverse’s inventiveness could rival any super-villain. The very presentation is something that we truly haven’t seen before. The dynamic balance between half-tone and cell-shading is something so dazzlingly you’ll feel like you’re living inside a comic book. there’s even a dash of wyld-style graffiti thrown in for good measure. Not only do a number of our multi-verse Spider-Men come with their own visual style, but the extra nuances throughout serve to elevate almost every moment up, rather than save flourishes for the obligatory fight-scenes.
While a visual tour-de-force never hurt any narrative’s laziness, Spiderverse approaches the emotional beats with the same level of gusto it does to its visual vigor. It would be so easy to get lost in the Spider-Melee of multiple Spider-Things doing Spider-Stuff all over the Spider-Place. Even the all-go-no-quit pace of the movie should hamper the hero’s story and reduce to something as enjoyable as the next Spider-Outing. However, not content in delivering the tried and tested origin story, the writing team deliver a satisfying story that breaks your heart as much as it lifts your spirits. Even the Stan Lee cameo has a poignancy that will bring a lump to the throat.
It’s not often that just the amount of the right ingredients coalesce into a superhero cake quite as fulfilling as this. Not only are the little heroes catered for along with crime fighting veterans, but so too are the reference hunting villains (just take a look at the contacts in Miles’ phone or the reworked comic covers that pop up throughout the running time).