Spider-Man: Into the Spider-versePG¦ 3D, Blu-ray, 4K, DVD
Ice-cream. Everybody loves it, right? But if you’re force fed tubs of it, morning, noon and night, it would probably start to lose its appeal. Not to mention all that brain freeze to contend with.
Now swap ‘ice-cream’ for ‘superhero flicks’ and you’ll probably get where we’re going with this.
If you’ve been lucky enough to be brought up on comic book culture, as we have, the notion of superhero fatigue should have been a foreign one. But being constantly bombarded with origin tales and Lycra-clad heroes for the last decade or so, it would be no wonder if a certain amount of lethargy crept in.
To add insult to injury, Sony release, of all things, a Spider-Man cartoon. As if a full-length feature is going to make a difference. As if a story of not just one Spider-Man, but a whole cluster of Spider-Peeps could actually save the day. It couldn’t possibly, could it?
Getting ahead in school is hard enough, but it’s made a zillion times worse for student Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) when his parents enrol him in a fancy posh school in New York City, full of absolutely no-one he knows.
His parents don’t want to hear his protests, so he hangs out with his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who takes him to a cool place near the subway, where he can let off some steam with a little light graffiti-ing. Whilst there, Miles is bitten by a spider, but thinks little of it.
Meanwhile...in another part of the city, evil genius Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) is in a scrap with everyone’s favourite, friendly neighbourhood superhero. Fisk, in his grief at losing his family, has built a super-collider – a device that acts as a portal to open other dimensions – in an attempt to reunite with other versions of his wife and son. Peter Parker (Chris Pine) knows how dangerous this is, which is why he’s keen to put a stop to it. Sadly for him, it doesn’t quite go to plan.
It’s not long before Miles starts to notice changes after being bitten. It seems that physically he’s taken on the powers of a certain Spider-Man. But can you have more than one Spider-Man? Apparently you can, and with the portal open to other universes, it has let in a further number of web-slingers from other dimensions, all with their unique take on being that specific superhero.
And with Fisk’s plans threatening to cause havoc in a myriad of different dimensions, it’s just as well there’s a gang of wall-crawlers available. But will they be enough?
It’s fairly immediate from the off that this remarkable animated feature pretty much ignores the superhero film canon and pays homage to the humble comic book. In fact, it’s probably the closest thing to a comic coming to life. Throughout the awesome adventure, the film uses its fair share of split panels in framing action, as well as a number of dialogue boxes, rooting it deeply to comic book culture.
It also pushes the boundaries visually too. With all the technology available, much of what takes place could have well been handled with CGI in live action form, but there’s something truly vibrant about the animation on show here; colours explode left right and centre, amongst some astonishing art direction.
It may be old hat technology, but the 3D version just goes to prove how visually stunning a 3D film can be. So if you have the equipment, that’s certainly the version you should experience.
It’s not just visually that this film excels. The script is littered with the kind of one-liners that filled the pages turned back in the day, which triggered proper chuckles. The dialogue, and in particular the inter-play between the various Spideys, is reminiscent of the unbridled joy of reading the original comics back in the day.
The story overall is also the type that would take place on the page. It’s similar to the cross-overs that would always get readers giddy, when other superheroes would appear in your favourite title. But instead of Spidey being joined by others from the Marvel universe, he’s cleverly joined by variants of himself.
And although it was a shock that the film defeated all-comers for Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Oscars – including taking down two big Disney titles – it was no real surprise considering the originality and creativity on show throughout, making it a thoroughly deserving winner.
It has to be said that there have been a number of terrific live action superhero flicks over the years, but in terms of Marvel’s output, this could possibly be the most visually stunning and most rewarding entry to date.
And as a certain Comic Book Guy might add, Best. Spideys. Ever.