Sony Pictures' animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse movie is a tremendous film inspired in large part by Dan Slott's 2014 "Spider-Verse" comic book event, but how does it compare? It features a talented voice cast including Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Jake Johnson as Peter Parker, and Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen. By the looks of it, the movie will be a box office success, after already becoming one of the highest rated superhero movies of all time.
At its core, the idea behind a Spider-Verse story is a simple one; it's an adventure that unites different versions of Spider-Man from different realities. In the comics, Marvel has launched countless iterations of the wall-crawler; there have been versions of Spider-Man set in 1602 and 2099, ones where he's a cyborg and a zombie, and Spider-Ham isn't even the only anthropomorphized animal version. There's a Spider-Monkey, as well, but that's not the only crazy idea for Spider-Man that Marvel has come up with over the years.
Sony's movie draws upon this concept by bringing together a handful of different iterations of Spider-Man, choosing ones with distinct visual styles so as to have real fun with the animation. But how does Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse compare to the original comic book event? Here, we're going to compare and contrast Dan Slott's epic - and its associated tie-ins - with the latest blockbuster movie.
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The Core Concept Of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Is Different
It's important to note that the central concept underlying the comic book story and the movie are subtly different. The "Spider-Verse" event was intended to be a celebration of every version of Spider-Man there had ever been, whether in the comics or in animation. That meant an incredible number of Spider-Men were involved in the story - from Spider-Man India to an Assassin Spider-Man, from a Spider-Man possessing the almost-unlimited power of Captain Universe to a Six-Armed Spider-Man. Although Slott didn't have the license to use previous big-screen versions, thus meaning there wasn't an actual appearance from Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man or Andrew Garfield's, throwaway dialogue nevertheless implied the two were there. Meanwhile, Marvel took advantage of "Spider-Verse" as an opportunity to create a wide range of brand new Spider-Men and Spider-Women - the most successful of which was Gwen Stacy's Spider-Gwen.
In contrast, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse serves two functions. Firstly, it's an origin story for Miles Morales' Spider-Man, and as such has a much tighter focus than Slott's event; everything is viewed through the prism of how it affects the central hero. Secondly, it's designed to embed the Spider-Verse in the popular consciousness, to introduce general moviegoers to the idea that there's a whole multiverse's worth of Spider-Men out there who could yet appear on the big screen. That means the scale of it all is reduced a little, and the adventure is based in a single dimension rather than hopping from reality to reality.
Less Is More In Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
The most notable result of that change in focus is that there are far fewer different Spider-Men. In fact, the film really only stars a handful of Spider-People:
- Miles Morales' Ultimate Spider-Man is, of course, the star of the film - when he was just a secondary (possibly even tertiary) character in the comic book event.
- There are two versions of Peter Parker, one of whom seems loosely inspired by Slott's "Big Time" version - where Peter has achieved fame and success. He's swiftly killed off, however, and replaced by a down-on-his-luck iteration of the wall-crawler who's very close to giving up on everything.
- Spider-Gwen, the breakout star of the 2014 "Spider-Verse" event, is another key figure in the film; she befriends Miles, but it's not hard to notice the occasional sparks between the two.
- Spider-Ham is a funny animal parody of Spider-Man, played out in entertaining style. He played a major role in the "Spider-Verse" event too, and Marvel originally intended to launch an ongoing Spider-Ham comic in the wake of the event. They pivoted towards Spider-Gwen when they saw how well she was received, however. A Spider-Ham spinoff could happen.
- Spider-Man Noir is played well, and is a darker version of the wall-crawler who - in an amusing touch - is unable to work out how to deal with a world of color.
- Peni Parker is a young girl who's bonded with the Sp//dr android. Like Spider-Gwen, Peni was created in one of the "Spider-Verse" tie-in comics and has become a fan-favorite.
The "Spider-Verse" event carefully treated each character differently, with tie-in issues giving artists a chance to experiment with the worlds of the different Spider-Men. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse takes a similar approach, with each character rendered using a different animation style. There's a sense in which it's almost a collage film, a combination of completely different artistic styles. Somehow, though, the animation team made it work.