Even though Spider-Man has finally earned access into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is proof that Tom Holland isn't the only web-slinger in town. In fact, judging by the animated film's positive early reviews, the MCU evidently has some competition when it comes to adapting someone as eminent as New York City's favorite wisecracking web-head.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated spin on the world of Spider-Man (aka the titular "Spider-Verse") in which Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) isn't just beginning his journey as the next Spider-Man, but discovering that he may not be the only one. Mentored by Peter Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson) and contending with the villain Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber), Miles meets a plethora of other web-slingers, including Spider-Gwen (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) and Spider-Noir (voiced by Nicolas Cage). Now, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse finally edging its way into theaters, early reviews are praising the film for its creative, stylized, and energetic take on the Marvel hero.
From Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative team behind The LEGO Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Solo: A Star Wars Story before they were ultimately replaced as co-directors with Ron Howard, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is being referred to as one of the few outliers in the realm of Spider-Man adaptations. And, even though this film may cover familiar territory with its origin story and a narrative that is sometimes overshadowed by the many action sequences, there is enough visual ingenuity and fun to have kept the critics entertained. Here are some SPOILER-FREE excerpts of what the critics are saying.
Molly Freeman - Screen Rant
Into the Spider-Verse sees Miles wrestling with how he fits into this multiverse full of Spider-People in much the same way as the movie must wrestle with how it fits into the Spider-Man legacy. Thankfully, both Miles and Into the Spider-Verse demonstrate a unique style and a great deal of heart, qualities that undoubtedly set this superhero and his origin movie apart from other Spider-People/Spider-Man stories.
David Griffin - IGN
With so many American animated films resembling Pixar nowadays, Into the Spider-Verse is a visual experience unlike anything we’ve seen before. Those one-of-a-kind visuals add an otherworldly look, which is appropriate since the story is not set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Angie Han - Mashable
What is not standard, at least for Spider-Man movies, is how bananas it all is. Spider-Verse takes full advantage of the fact that animation can do things live-action can't, or not as easily, or not as beautifully. When Miles is arcing through the air or soaring toward a baddie, it's hard not to notice how much prettier and cooler the action is here than in most live-action superhero flicks.
Charles Pulliam-Moore - io9
At multiple points in the film, the story ever so slightly fades into the background to make room for what’s best described as a postmodern kaleidoscope of sound and light. At rest, Into the Spider-Verse is lush and alive and bathed in every single saturated hue imaginable.
William Bibbiani - The Wrap
Miraculously, instead of feeling like too much of a good thing, “Into the Spider-Verse” is simply a very good thing. The film, directed by Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, captures the sprawling interconnectivity of comic-book universes in a way that no other feature film has.
David Ehrlich - Indiewire
But the film’s wild and contradictory aesthetic — elements of which clash against each other like some kind of dissonant cartoon jazz — dazzlingly explodes the outmoded idea that superhero movies have to look a certain way.
Todd McCarthy - The Hollywood Reporter
The increasingly abundant negatives are sensory overload and overkill, a feeling that the film it pitched first and foremost to the insider geek contingent that will get all the jokes and references, plus a growing sense that nothing matters because it's dealing in ephemeral realms that come and go in a flash, which they indeed do.
Darren Franich - EW
Do these characters sound fun? They are! And the one big action number that unites the Spider-people against an onslaught of villains is very fun. But you start to feel the 10-car-pileup of this movie’s intentions when the other Spideys show up.
Susana Polo - Polygon
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse makes humor and exhilaration the primary emotions associated with being a superhero. It never lets you forget that wittyness is among Peter Parker’s greatest powers, it never misses a chance to have a character walk casually along a wall for the sake of it and when Miles finally learns to swing a web you feel the joy of his accomplishment.
Alex Abad-Santos - Vox
Into the Spider-Verse builds on that legacy in a way that allows Morales to be frightened, to feel unsure of himself, perhaps even to act unhelpful and callous at times, while never losing sight of his bravery and humanity.
One of the major takeaways from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stems from the visuals and animation. Early reviews are not only celebrating the nod to traditional comic book illustration styles, but the film's confidence to boldly step away from the status quo so often replicated in superhero movie after superhero movie. From its universe-stretching plot to its cast of colorful characters, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse clearly earns the ability to push creative boundaries without being an indigestible sensory overload.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has no doubt opened a door for the future of superhero adaptations that may well encourage major studios to break away from tradition. A handful of these reviews specifically call out the MCU for clinging to familiarity even when they attempt to tread new ground. And, if Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse turns out to be box office success, audiences may end up witnessing a certain creative evolution in the superhero genre that favors bold over boring.
Source: Various (see the links above)
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019