No matter what time of year it is, it seems like there's always a new superhero movie in theaters. Whether it's Marvel or DC, it's nearly impossible to avoid the current public obsession with superheros. However, despite the abundance of films to come from the genre, few stick out as much as the Spider-Man franchise. Everyone has a favorite Spider-Man movie but despite there being almost a dozen in existence as of 2021, one looms large over the rest in terms of impact and overall quality. You can deny it all you want but if you've been keeping up with Spider-Man these past few years, you already know exactly which movie I'm talking about...
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman is not only the best Spider-Man movie, but also the best superhero movie ever made. And if you've ever had the pleasure of watching Spider-Verse, you know that's no understatement. But what makes it so good? How can a film that's only been out for three years hold that much weight in the genre?
Spider-Verse tells the story of fourteen year old, Miles Morales as he adjusts to his new prep school, paints grafitti with his uncle, and sits through his police officer father's rants about that nuisance, Spider-Man. At first, all Miles has to worry about is fitting in at his new school, until he is bit by a radioactive spider and turns into the very hero his father loathes. What some people might not know is that Miles Morales was actually an established Marvel character before his big film debut, but the impact of his starring role cannot be understated. Miles is a black, Puerto Rican city kid from Brooklyn, a stark contrast to Peter Parker. For millions of children all over the world, Miles was the first superhero they ever saw that resembled them, a hero they could look up to with kinky hair who spoke Spanish. Miles is a fully realized, interesting character that you can't help but root for, not the random black character that dies first in every horror movie, or the character whose accent is used as comic relief. The existence of Miles Morales as the main character of a major Spider-Man film is a huge step forward for equal representation on the silver screen. It's not often that you'll find a film with a character whose appearance improves the industry as a whole, but Spider-Verse manages to do just that.
The villains are amazing too, with Dr. Octopus being redesigned completely into Dr. Olivia Octavius, breathing new life into the classic character. Kingpin is also surprisingly terrifying as the main antagonist with his monstrous stature and ruthless attitude towards anyone who stands in his way. It's an interesting alternative to obvious Spider-Man villains like Green Goblin or Venom.
The dynamic between Miles, his father, and his uncle Aaron who turns out to be a twist villain is some of the most captivating I've seen come out of Marvel studios in a long while. However, the stellar character writing is far from the only thing that makes Spider-Verse stand out from all the other superhero movies...
Spider-Verse has one of the more celebrated soundtracks in Marvel's catalogue, second only to Black Panther. The track list includes big names in hip-hop such as Aminé, Nicki Minaj, Denzel Curry, Vince Staples, and most famously, Swae Lee and Post Malone on their hit single, "Sunflower," which is pretty much the movie's unofficial theme song. The soundtrack plays out like a playlist that Miles would have constantly playing in his headphones, therefore making the film feel more personal. It's a lot easier to put yourself in the protagonist's shoes when you know their values and interests, like preferred music.
Most superhero movies will have their fair share of comedy, and the jokes in Spider-Verse still seem to hold up even after repeated viewings. The presence of new character, Peter B. Parker as the destitute mentor adds so much more personality to the entire film. He's one of the better written comic relief characters to come out of Marvel, that's for sure.
Despite how incredible the soundtrack and character writing are, there is one definite crown jewel of Into The Spider-Verse, and that is the animation. The film's concept was first brought up around 2014 by Sony Pictures Animation with a plan to "rejuvenate" the Spider-Man franchise, and that they did. In terms of animation, Spider-Verse looks noticeably different than the average cartoon because the animators used less frames than usual, making the animation slightly choppy, looking like a comic book. The city environments are bustling, vibrant, and colorful, virtually every frame of this film is bursting at the seams with color. Spider-Verse is an absolute feast for the senses, like a sober trip on ecstasy. You can tell how much creativity, care, and effort went into each individual frame of this modern masterpiece.
Even if you're not particularly fond of the superhero genre, there isn't a single person on Earth I wouldn't recommend this movie to. It's got style, heart, creativity, and stands as a needed reminder that not all superhero movies have to be dull and formulaic. Fortunately, a long awaited sequel was recently announced and the film will be released in October 2022. So before you go see the second installment in theaters, make sure you give the original the watch it deserves.