Comic Bookworm: Family Film Review Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
My husband may hate me for what I’m about to say, but then hopefully I’ll redeem myself.
I don’t like Spider-Man.
There, I said it. I’ve never been a fan. I think the old-timey cartoons are cheesy. I don’t think I’ve watched ANY of the Spider-Man movies. I don’t know what exactly it is but I find the character annoying and other than a few funny lines in the Avengers movies, not really that useful.
However, now we have kids and our kids love comic book characters (how could they escape with GhostAndy for a dad?). Seriously, my 4 year old daughter can probably name more comic book characters than I can. And my kids love movies, and we need things to do as a family, and the Ghosts of the Stratosphere have to keep up with the latest and greatest comic book stuff including movies—so here I am, at my very first Spider-Man movie. By the way, if you want to hear what the Ghost’s thought of the movie, check out the podcast released this morning!
And I LOVED it!
If you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse yet YOU NEED TO RUN THERE NOW! Not just a great comic book movie, just a great movie overall. Stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers, read on if you have to know why it’s so great.
Miles Morales is just a kid from Brooklyn trying to make it through life. His dad is kind of a straight laced cop who in the end just wants the best for his son but sometimes has a hard time showing it. Miles turns to his Uncle Aaron, who helps Miles express himself where at times Miles feels suppressed by his Dad’s expectations. When Uncle Aaron takes Miles to an abandoned subway tunnel to put up graffiti (Miles artistic passion), Miles is bitten by, you guessed it, a crazy electric? spider. Special powers ensue but Miles has no idea how to harness them.
Miles then stumbles upon Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin and others in an attempt to shut down an accelerator which is wreaking havoc across New York, essentially opening up the universe to allow communication with other dimensions. Spider-Man can sense Miles’ spider-ness and for once in his life feels he isn’t alone. He vows to teach Miles but after he is injured during the melee, he entrusts Miles with the Zip drive to destroy the accelerator before he is killed by none other than Wilson Fisk (it is too soon! Darn you Netflix! Bring back Vincent D’Onofrio and my Daredevil!).
As the city mourns Spider-Man, Miles accidentally breaks the file card trying to “be Spider-man” and runs into a second Spider-Man–a dejected, moneyless, flabby hobo-esc Peter B. Parker from another dimension who has essentially given up on life and himself. He’s divorced from Mary Jane and spends his time holed up in a small dank apartment eating pizza and feeling sorry for himself. Miles begs him to teach him how to use his spider-powers but this Spider-man is only interested in getting back to the accelerator so he can go back to his dimension. He finally lets Miles tag along as they head off to the secret laboratory to steal data on how to destroy the accelerator.
Easier said than done as they encounter the head scientist is Olivia Octavious aka Doc Oc and Fisk’s scientist henchmen. As it starts to look like they won’t the data and possibly won’t escape, they are rescued by, you guessed it again, another spider-powered superhero, Spider-Gwen. After she saves the boys they head to Aunt May’s house to try to get help. She takes them to Spider-Man’s secret lair where 3 other Spider-beings have already sought help. Spider-noir (Peter Benjamin Parker), Spider-Ham (aka Peter Porker) and Peni Parker, the manga-future superhero armed with her mech-suit SP//dr manned by her “pet” radioactive spider. Realizing the longer they stay in this universe, they will continue to glitch and molecularly degrade, they come up with a plan to transport each superhero back to their dimension before destroying the accelerator.
However, Miles continues to struggle to gain control of his powers and the group sees him as more of a liability than an asset. Feeling lost, he goes to his Uncle Aaron’s apartment where he discovers his uncle is also the Prowler. Not knowing it is his beloved nephew, the Prowler pursues Miles who narrowly escapes. As Miles rushes back to Aunt May’s to tell the group, they are set upon by Fisk’s gang and the Prowler. When the Prowler discovers this new Spider-Man is Miles he fails to kill him and and Fisk shoots him. Miles swings his wounded Uncle away before he dies, sharing their last moment together. Miles’ dad stumbles upon them, assuming the new Spider-man is responsible for Aaron’s death,but Miles becomes invisible and disappears before his dad finds out who is behind the mask.
Back at his dorm room, the team of Spider-mans confront Miles, telling them they are going to pursue their mission without him and restrain him so he cannot follow. Miles’ dad Jefferson comes to the dorms, more out of guilt for not always showing Miles the kind of support he needs. Not expecting Miles to answer, he confesses his regrets and tells Miles that he believes in him. Armed with a new sense of purpose, Miles escapes his bonds and rushes off to help his friends, but only after making his own Spider-suit with Aunt May’s help.
The team successful fends off Olivia and Scorpion and starts sending it’s members home. Peter B. Parker, who thinks he can avoid returning to his less than desirable life in his dimension by being the martyr who stays behind to destroy the machine, is finally convinced that not all is lost and that “[he] need[s] to go home, man”. Miles then tries to destroy the accelerator but is interrupted by Fisk himself who nearly beats him to a pulp. But then Jefferson shows up, realizing the new Spider-man is a hero not an enemy . Miles can sense this and gains the strength to knock Fisk back with his venom blast, destroy the device and set all right in the world.
So, the plot was a little predictable but in the end it didn’t matter because it was done the right way. These are my top 4 reasons why you should love this movie as much as I did.
- Pick your Spider-man/woman/pig. With so many to choose from there is a hero for everyone. Comic books are notorious for being a little, ahem…, white. As in white and male. Even the few cool superhero women are still reduced to domestic duties and looking pretty. Enter the modern era where you find kick butt females like Spider-Gwen and super smart, tech forward Peni Parker. But even more, with Miles we get to embrace the diversity of society and finally break away from the stereotypical superhero. While he’s been out in print for a while, I feel like this movie along with the release earlier this year of Black Panther, really are fast forwarding the larger comic book movie fan-base into a more accepting reality. Then you have Peter Porker (Jojo’s favorite–what can we say? She’s 4!) and actually Spider-Noir was awesome too, particularly with his emo one-liners, at one point quipping that Miles had “one hard core origin story”.
- The animation. I know, I know. I just gave major props in my last review of Ralph Breaks the Internet about how awesome the animation was. But this, this was so…different…and so colorful…and so…awesome! The animation in this film was intentionally pixelated giving it such a classic comic book style and full of every color known to man. And to amp it up there was intermittent use of word bubbles or thought boxes that added a little of that BOOM! POW! WAM! factor. My only complaint that at times it looked like watching a 3D movie without the glasses but overall so beautiful. You’re gonna wanna hang through the credits too–the only way I can think to describe it is a kaleidoscope of comics and its amazing!
- The costume. For most of the movie Miles is wearing a store-bought, too small Spider-man costume, complete with those little holes for your nostrils. He’s trying so hard to fit a pre-cast mold of who and what Spider-man should be. It’s only after some soul searching and a little encouragement from those most dear to him that he can find himself and who HE IS as Spider-man. Once he realizes he doesn’t need to be the SAME Spider-man he makes his own costume complete with a hoodie sweatshirt and Nike shoes, not to mention his own graffiti spider. My kids might be too young to pick up on the allegory at play here but to me it was one of the most poignant moments in the film.
- The relationships. They are complicated–this makes this movie so much more real than the black and white, good guy-bad guy of comic book past. You have the dad who cares so much he kinda pushes you away, the cool uncle who turns out to be an enemy and the hero you look up wallowing in his failures. I won’t lie and tell you I didn’t tear up a little watching these relationships evolve and change. One of my favorite lines of the movie was when Uncle Aaron tells Miles “You’re the best of all of us. Your on the way, just keep going.”
- The music. I’m not usually a huge fan of rap or hip-hop but the music in this movie fit so perfectly, gave it that urban edge. From the beginning of the movie when you hear the made for the movie song “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee being sung by our yet-to-be-superhero throughout all the action with music provided by Nikki Minaj, XXX and Anime and down to the end credit score piece “Spider-man Loves You” this music keeps the heartbeat of our character going. Bravo!
Nicole’s Overall Movie GRADE: A+