Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ★★★★★

We're all Spider-Man.


First of all, I can't believe that within a 7-day window I had the two greatest animated experiences of my life. And this, I mean... It's not even fair. It just blows every movie of 2018 out of the water. In so many levels this is a movie like never done before. As a comic book adaptation, as a superhero film, as an animation, as a whole... This is something you have never experienced in your life.

I never did like the notion of a super-hero passing down the mantle - at least not with the most iconic ones. It just never really works out, and they always end up going back to the original. Dick Grayson and Terry McGinnis can play dress up all they want, but we all know there's only one, true Batman, and that's Bruce Wayne. With Spider-Man, though... It's different. I remember when they created Miles Morales back in 09, and a lot of people thought he was gonna be rejected by the fans, but he surprisingly worked and became extremely popular - to the point that he's making a big screen debut in less than 10 years since he was created. And then we got Spider-Gwen and several other spider-people that also became beloved and had their own series. There's a reason why Spider-Man works so well with different alter-egos. The great Stan Lee, may he rest in peace, once told CBR this:

It could be a black kid, it could be an Asian kid, it could be anybody of any skin color. They could imagine they're Spider-Man because he's all covered up and he could be anybody. We didn't do that purposely, but it's certainly worked out that way.

Spider-Man's always been the most relatable superhero, as he's got a grounded reality, with real world problems that all of us must face. If he's a teenager, he's got school issues, family relations issues, he's got to save the city but he has to make it in time for class. If he's an adult, he's got marital issues, he's got finantial issues, and on it goes. Spider-Man's not just a superhero, he's also just a regular guy, like us, who still screws up and makes mistakes in life, even with all those powers. And on top of that, he wears a fully covered suit, so it could literally be anyone under that mask. Any kid - white, black, asian, latino, blue, green - can suit up as Spider-Man, look in the mirror and believe they are Spider-Man. And because of this, all these different iterations of the character work so uniquely - from a black kid from Brooklyn to a mecha-piloting Japanese schoolgirl, everybody can, to some extent, relate to Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse portrays that so beautifully. It even goes a bit meta here and there in order to communicate with the audience and make a commentary on these fictional heroes' relevance to us, and how we connect with them throughout our lives. Whether it's in the shape of a comic book, a cartoon, an anime, a film noir or any other thing, these stories and these characters transcend their dimensions and they become a part of who we essentially are. They shape us into something special, something unique, and each and every one of us has the power to be that super. That's what Spider-Verse's here to say, and it says it splendidly through deep, layered and well-rounded character work.

As for the animation... It's just insane. Hollywood's been in desperate need of innovation when it comes to its animated movies, and this is exactly it. It's groundbreaking. Possibly the single most inventive western animation work ever done. A hyperstylized show of supercolorful extravaganza that mixes up several different art styles into something never quite seen before - and all with a proper purpose within the film. It goes comic book, it goes cartoon, it goes anime, it goes everything. It even gets 3DCG anime right, something the entire anime industry still hasn't managed to do. And the way the directors execute it so smoothly is even crazier - it all feels like it just couldn't have been done any other way. They couldn't have picked better shots, they couldn't have colorized it better, they couldn't have animated better moves. Everything looks like it's the best work they could've possibly done with the most state-of-the-art equipment available. The way the mise-en-scène layers the characters with different subjects in the scenes and the backgrounds, especially throughout the jaw-dropping action sequences, and how that plays out in the 3D is simply astonishing.

And then there's that soundtrack. All the songs were selected perfectly and used with such a power from scene to scene... The What's Up Danger moment might be my favorite sequence in the film. Gorgeously done. Daniel Pemberton's score also encapsulates the soul of the film, and even if it's not as iconic as a Danny Elfman, it's just too fittingly epic to downgrade.

All of that made complete by great humor. The tone is right on. Very smart, quick, laugh-out-loud, sometimes meta humor makes the film's complicated concept and heavy thematic relevance very easily palatable for a superhero spectacle animated film. It's immensely fun and funny, and both kids and adults are gonna walk out of this having had a great time, while also having absorbed a beautiful message.

If you had told me two years ago that a non-Peter Parker Spider-Man animated movie would be a masterpiece of these proportions, I would've laughed at your face... But Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is exactly that. A landmark in animated filmmaking. One of the greatest, most inventive, most well realized and complete spectacle experiences anyone could have in the movies, and a reminder that you, me, and everyone else out there is special, for their own unique reason, in their own unique universe.

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