On The 2nd Anniversary of Into The Spider-Verse, Maybe The Best Spider-Man Movie Ever Made
When the news came down that Sony Pictures was making a new animated Spider-Man film for wide release, the fandom gave a collective shrug. Yet, on this the 2nd anniversary of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse we have to admit how wrong we were. In fact, this might be the “best” Spider-Man movie ever made, regardless of whether you like Tom Holland’s or Tobey Maquire’s Spider-Man the best. There are a lot of reasons to love this film, from its unique animation style to the way in which it brought Peter Parker and Miles Morales together on-screen. The film has all the elements of a heartwarming and powerfully moving genre story, but it’s also uproariously funny. It also marks the first use of the multiverse in big-screen Marvel media. No matter what happens with the Into the Spider-Verse sequel, this movie is important.
First and foremost, this movie brings Miles Morales, the first person of color to don the Spider-mantle, front and center. Even for someone like myself who thinks we can never have “too many” Spider-Man movies, elevating a non-Peter Parker Spider-Man was a great call by Sony. The impact of this character for people of color of all ages cannot be overstated. This film brings the Stan Lee ethos, that under the mask Spider-Man could be any of us, to (animated) life.
Second, this movie shows that the breadth and depth of these silly stories for kids can sustain multiple “franchises.” Tom Holland is definitely one of the best actors to don the Spider-suit. Yet, having Peter B. Parker, Miles Morales, and Gwen Stacy also as Spider-people only enriches the Spider-world. They give us spider-people for all seasons.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Honors the Source Material
Image via Sony
The most petulant comic book fans often lament any changes, big or small to the characters they love. Even though the MCU told very different stories than their comic book counterparts, the characters were immediately recognizable. The Snyder-Verse, however, was less acceptable to some because the characters themselves were so different. Ben Affleck’s Batman was cruel and lost his compunction against killing. Henry Cavill’s Superman was reticent to be a symbol and less pure than other Supermen. While arguably both of those characters have seen enough iterations on film that such changes are called for, fans don’t like that.
However, on the anniversary of Into the Spider-Verse, we are celebrating a film that was able to balance that line. Peter B. Parker was unlike any Peter Parker we’d seen on screen. He was callous, broken, and almost too cynical. Yet, throughout the film and his interactions with Miles and Gwen, he was able to find his way back to a more recognizable Peter. The scene immediately following Miles’ reveal as Spider-Man is one of the best in the movie. Peter B. tells Miles he “loves” him, which is moving in a lot of ways. An orphan, Peter’s reluctance to have children makes sense. Yet, in recognizing his connection with Miles, and his pride in Miles’ success is one of the most heartwarming moments in the film.
Also, the entire visual style of the movie looks like a comic book, complete with onomatopoeic sound effect text. (Bagel!) The dynamic visual style of this movie is the closest I’ve ever seen of a comic book come to life. The film exemplifies all that’s great about all the genres it embodies while also transcending them in surprising ways. It remains a gift to Spider-fans and general audiences alike.
Miles Morales Is the Future of Spider-Man (For Now)
Image via Sony Pictures
Spider-Man became a sensation from his first appearance in the 1960s because of Peter Parker. For once, the hero was a spindly nerd with real-world problems readers of all ages could relate to. Put another way, he “looked like” (if only metaphorically) the people reading the comic books. Clark Kent, as Quentin Tarantino so famously said via the character Bill in Kill Bill, was a costume. Peter was the guy. So, with Miles Morales readers of a new generation can see themselves in him as well. Representation is such a key part of these stories for kids. The connection they make with their favorite heroes is why, even as adults, they can’t let them go. On the anniversary of Into the Spider-Verse we got a brand-new Spider-Man that honors what came before and paves the way for the future.
It should not be glossed over that Miles’ Black and Latin roots are a key part of that representation. Kids who haven’t seen their culture or even relative skin tone reflected in their heroes have that now. But that doesn’t mean kids of other cultural or ethnic backgrounds can’t connect to him, too. Miles and Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker and the others all show that the characters don’t have to look like the audience to look like the audience. In fact, pudgy 40-year-olds even get some superhero representation via Peter B. Parker. To crib a much-mocked line from CW’s The Flash, we are Spider-Man.
It may seem childish to gush about a cartoon like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, anniversary or not. Maybe it is. But holding on to childish things doesn’t mean we’re being childish. Rather bitter, world-weary adults can feel that youthful spark of joy and possibility that we got the first time we discovered these characters.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is currently streaming on Netflix and available for purchase.
What thoughts do you have about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on its 2nd anniversary? Share them in the comments below!
Featured image via Sony Pictures
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.