Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Why “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is THE Best Spider-Man Movie

Sony Pictures' animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has created waves across the geek world with its simple yet iconic storyline that has a lot of heart and chockful of easter eggs, accompanied by eye-popping dash of colour and a snappy pace. Red Dot Diva loved the movie too, and thought it was the best animated movie of the year.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versetranslated the characters from the 2D comic book pages to animated form, by fleshing out the characters whom we love, like Peter Parker (Jake Johnson for the scruffy 'B' version), Gwen Stacy (Hailey Steinfeld), and the latest Spidey hero Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in such a delightful manner. It made us even feel a little for the villain, Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). 

The animated feature is also a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Spider-man's creators Stan Lee (who passed away a month ago), and Steve Ditko. For those sniffle-worthy moments, do not forget to stay on for the movie's post-credits, for which there are two.

Red Dot Diva's fellow geek pal Wayne Rée watched the movie and loved it as well. Here's Wayne's review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse:


I’ll just say it right up front. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t just my favourite movie of the year, it’s also one of my favourite superhero movies ever, one of my favourite Spider-Man stories in any medium, and easily my favourite Spider-Man movie.

Your mileage may vary on all the Spider-Man live action movies thus far. I personally think that Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s respective series were both flawed overall, but with moments of brilliance, and while Homecoming very much got the spirit of the character right, a lot of the action was pretty choppy. (Don’t @ me, guys.)

Why Into the Spider-Verse tops all of them for me, however, is that it’s the one that didn’t just nail the spirit of the character, but it also tapped into the idea of why we al love Spider-Man.

Whether it’s Peter Parker or Miles Morales, arguably the two most recognisable characters to don the webs, the spirit of Spider-Man has always been that he’s the everyday hero. It doesn’t matter if he’s young and single or married with a job. He tries to do the right thing, but like all of us, he messes up.

The Peter Parker that we see through most of this movie takes this idea to the extreme, by having him become a deadbeat middle-aged guy who’s living in a crummy apartment and estranged from his wife, all because of bad decisions he made while trying to do good things. Life has beaten him down and he’s in a rut, until he meets a fledgling Spider-Man from another dimension, Miles Morales – the very heart and soul of this movie.

Miles isn’t just becoming a new Spider-Man though. He’s very much you and me, more so than Peter Parker is. He’s in awe of what the identity of Spider-Man represents, just like we all are. He wants to do good things, but feels like he doesn’t have the chops to live up to the great responsibilities that come with his great powers, much in the way any of us might feel.

The audience sees this world through Miles’ eyes and experiences it through Miles’ story, so when Miles triumphs, we all feel it. When Miles becomes Spider-Man, so do we.

And that is what I mean when I say that this movie nails why we love Spider-Man so much. The message of this film is that anyone can wear the mask, anyone can be Spider-Man. It’s not a new message, mind you. Since 1962, generations of readers, TV and movie viewers or video game players have all loved Spider-Man because, underneath that full-faced mask, he’s just like us. If he could be a white guy from Queens or a half-Puerto Rican, half-black kid from Brooklyn, why couldn’t we see ourselves as him too?

But its message isn’t just why I love this movie so much. Its story is a simple one – standard superheroic shenanigans like dimension-hopping and using a MacGuffin to stop the multiverse from collapsing – and while this is all acknowledged with a knowing wink, it’s done so lovingly. That simple story, however, is used as a vehicle for these amazing characters. No disrespect to the excellent work that Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli and David Marquez did in the comics, but Miles’ origin honestly feels more fleshed out here. Little touches, like his love for graffiti art or having him relax by immersing himself in music, are what make this Spider-Man his very own man.

Even some of the villains get wonderful character moments here and there. Brief flashbacks to establish Kingpin’s motivations feel genuine and complex, and Prowler raises the stakes for Miles in a very personal way, a true Spidey tradition since Peter found out all those years ago that one of his greatest villains was also his best friend’s dad.

Also, there’s Spider-Ham. Trust me, you’re gonna love Spider-Ham.

And while anyone can walk into this movie and enjoy it, there are so many references to Spidey lore to make any fan’s spider-sense tingle, from a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to one of Miles’ original inspirations to riffs on the Raimi films and even a small appearance by the Spider-Mobile.

The design choices for a lot of the characters also seem like references to the comics, particularly Kingpin’s appearance, which could very well take its cues from Bill Sienkiewicz’s rendition of Fisk from the Daredevil graphic novel, Love and War.

Heck, the whole thing just looks like a comic come to life. Yes, there are thought balloons and inner dialogue boxes, but the overall style goes so far as to replicate the traditional printing of comic books, making the movie visually stunning and unique.

I could honestly go on and on all day about this film. For the first time, with all my heart and soul, I can say that this is the Spider-Man movie I’ve been waiting for, not just because it does right by a character I’ve loved since I was a kid – but because I feel that it does right by me too.


Wayne Rée is a writer best known for his short story collection Tales From a Tiny Room (Math Paper Press), his contribution to LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction #10 (Epigram Books), and the independently produced comic Mr Memphis (with Benjamin Chee). He has a Spider-Man tattoo on his right forearm, but was too nervous to show it to Stan Lee when he met The Man back in 2012. He misses both Stan and Steve Ditko dearly. You can find him at waynereewrites.com.

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