5 Little Ways "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" Is Miraculous
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a refreshing blast of witty and heartfelt entertainment. In a market saturated with superhero films, particularly Marvel ones, it’s shockingly unique, too.
The frenetically paced, psychedelic comic book style animation is wholly unlike any other big-budget American animated movie and it finds perfect synergy with the propulsive pop/hip-hop soundtrack. The endearingly awkward adolescent energy that defines Spider-Man is present and accounted for in Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales, who after being bit by a radioactive spider (natch), has to figure out his place among a little group of veteran Spider-People who hail from parallel universes.
Needless to say, this is a movie you should see ASAP. Really, it’s a superhero movie for anyone who’s sick of superhero movies; and it’s somehow also a treat for fans of the genre. In this way, it’s kind of miraculous. But there are other wonderful little details in this movie that deserve some recognition.
Here Are 5 Little Ways Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Is Miraculous
1. It Presents An Original But Still Faithful Peter Parker
Even if we couldn’t articulate Peter Parker’s character perfectly, we all know who he is and what his personality is like. He’s the sensitive, good-natured dork whose goofball charm masks an inhuman (or maybe very human) ability to endure adversity.
This year alone there’ve been two different but equally beloved versions: the teenaged, sweetheart spaz in Avengers: Infinity War, and the cooler, more confident, 20-something crime-fighter, who’s still prone to the odd bit of goofballery, in Spider-Man PS4.
In Spider-Verse, we get something unexpected: a jaded, divorced, broke, physically gone-to-seed and bitterly sarcastic 40-something Peter Parker. It rankles at first — who’d want to look up to this sad-sack who’s lost much of his exuberance and optimism? — but it’s completely faithful to the spirit of the character; the guy who just can’t catch a break in life. It gives this Peter Parker his own satisfying arc. Which is infinitely better than a prime Peter Parker as symbolic prop for Miles to emulate.
2. The Costume Design Choices For Peter Parker & Miles Morales
The choice to graft civilian clothing over Peter Parker and Miles Morales Spider-Man costumes was a simple masterstroke. After all, Spider-Man’s personal life is usually given equal consideration in his stories. The mix of civilian and superhero costuming communicates that succinctly.
It quickly speaks volumes about their characters, too. The grey sweatpants and chunky dreary olive-green coat Peter Parker wears over his traditionally bright duds suggests he regards the Spider-Man gig as something akin to a chore, like going to the grocery store, and is merely going through the motions.
Miles’ hoodie and Air Jordans is an inspired bit of verisimilitude, a perfect representation of a fashion conscious teenager in 2018. More importantly, the image of the hoodie as a symbol of a menacing youth (the ugly racial connotations are pretty obvious, right?) is slyly subverted, taking on the heroic aura of a cape; and like a cape, it ripples pleasingly in accordance with Miles’ Spidery movements.
3. Mahershala Ali Will Make You Give A Shit Within Two Seconds
Across the board, the voice-acting work in Spider-Verse is exceptional. But Mahershala Ali as Miles’ Uncle Aaron is the film’s special sauce and the key to Miles’ journey resonating flawlessly.
This is because Ali takes his role as the mentor figure in this comedic PG cartoon as seriously as he did in high class adult fare like Moonlight. And like in Moonlight, his approachable charm is only surpassed by his gravitas. He’s not in the film all that much, but he makes every second count. Without his understated and lovely work Spider-Verse would be missing something vital.
4. Each Of The Spider-People Are Actually Unique
If nothing else, Spider-Verse proves the delightful elasticity of Spider-Man as a concept. Aside from Peter and Miles, we’ve got a punk-rocker Spider-Woman who moves with the grace and power of a lethal ballerina; an old-timey, brooding 1930s Spider-Man voiced to hammy perfection by Nicolas Cage; Spider-Ham, an anthropomorphic animal parody straight out of Loony Tunes; and Peni Parker, the pilot of a Mech Spider-Man suit from the distant future.
Far from having their weird little oddities diluted to fit into the emotionally grounded Miles Morales and Peter Parker stories, their differences give weight to Spider-Verse’s mantra that “anyone can be Spider-Man”. What makes you weird is what makes you precious; you have something wonderful to add to the bigger picture, even if like Nic Cage’s 1930s Spider-Man you can’t see colour or like Spider-Woman you’re afraid of getting too close to people. It’d be a trite message were it not for the artists and animators pouring all their passion and creativity into making each Spider-Person a unique individual, no matter their importance to the plot or screen time. This is an instance of a family-friendly film actually believing in its own morals. Which is sadly sort of rare.
5. Spider-Verse’s Smart Use of These Two Excellent Songs
These two songs, Sunflower and What’s Up Danger, were written specifically for Spider-Verse. In most cases, they would be chopped up and unceremoniously relegated to the end credits. But these songs are actually integrated into the plot and character arcs in meaningful ways. And they’re such infectiously catchy beats, too.