"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is the 7th motion picture starring Spider-Man (not counting unauthorized Turkish ones), the second Sony In Association With Marvel movie of 2018, and probly only the third biggest Marvel Comics movie of its year. But I honestly think it’s revolutionary. Not necessarily for super heroes – its story of colliding alternate dimensions is clever, but built on familiar comic book traditions – but for animated features. Somehow Sony, who had been considered so clueless about what to do with Spider-Man that they had to farm him out to Marvel, found people who knew how to celebrate the vast history, meaning and potential of the character in a completely new cinematic way.

So much has been done in computer animation since TOY STORY. There have been many great achievements in the form, including two funny super hero movies in the INCREDIBLES series. But the kineticism and print-inspired graphic playfulness of SPIDER-VERSE feels completely new. The Spider-men-and-women run and flip and swing and glide in exaggerated splash page poses true to the history of cartooning but rarely possible in computer models. They’re (mostly) rendered in three dimensions, but with line art details and outlines and Zip-a-Tone dot shading. Some shots or characters are done in traditional hand drawn animation. Backgrounds sometimes have spray paint coloring in honor of the movie’s graffiti writer protagonist. Comic book description boxes, sound effects and motion lines – most importantly Spidey-Sense wiggle lines – appear on screen. The filmatism includes split screens, pseudo time lapse, jump cuts and hotshot flying camera moves that seem more at home in this cartoony animation than in the special effects movies where they have to pass for live action.

I hope I get a chance to catch it in 3D. Seems like it would be great for that. Here are a couple screen grabs just from the trailer to show you how drastically different this looks from any of the other animated movies.

You’re not gonna flip to this on cable and wonder if it’s DESPICABLE ME or something.

And it’s a good movie. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore, Shaolin Fantastic from The Get Down) is a young artist who gets bit by a radioactive spider and gets those spider powers we, as citizens of the earth, have heard of once or twice before. He manages to meet Peter Parker (Chris Pine, SMOKIN’ ACES) to try to get his spider-manly advice about the situation, but Parker is killed in a battle with Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone, director of MACGRUBER) at Kingpin (Liev Schreiber, SALT)’s super-collider, so Miles feels it’s his duty to finish the mission, decked out in a store-bought Spider-Man Halloween costume. Eventually he’ll upgrade and customize his suit with spraypaint. It’s the only super hero uniform that includes Air Jordans. But first he meets an older, slightly out-of-shape but still alive Peter Parker (Jake Johnson, REDBELT) and it becomes clear the the super-collider is sucking in various alternate dimension spider-people who must team up to stop the machine from destroying all of reality.

I already found Miles’ story compelling before he was a Spider-Man. His dad (the great Brian Tyree Henry from WIDOWS and Atlanta) is a broad-shouldered cop who cares about him in a way he finds smothering and sends him to a private school where he feels out of place. I don’t know if Wesley Snipes is about to challenge Miles’s badness on the subway, but I think he’s both intimidated by the school itself and embarrassed to have been sent there. He also has an uncle (Mahershala Ali, PREDATORS) who encourages his art but doesn’t get along with his dad. And he has an awkward new friendship with a classmate (Hailee Steinfeld, 3 DAYS TO KILL) who will of course turn out to be a fellow Spider-Person. Her hair is shaved on one side like the badass white lady in THE NIGHT COMES FOR US. They do a really good job of animating her to be intimidatingly more cool than him.

The movie has three directors – Bob Persichetti (head of story, PUSS IN BOOTS), Peter Ramsey (director of RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, storyboard artist on A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5 and PREDATOR 2) and Rodney Rothman (writer of 22 JUMP STREET) – but much of the promotion has centered around producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the 21 JUMP STREET/LEGO MOVIE/didn’t get to do SOLO guys (Lord also co-wrote this). Like much of their work it’s packed with quick, funny jokes and character quirks such as Miles’ habit of singing along with R&B songs (an impressively authentic “don’t know most of the words” style). But it absolutely works on the level of colorful, light-hearted super hero adventure. And I only knew a few little references, but I’m positive it’s full of delightful details for Spider-Devotees. It’s the first cinematic appearance for many comic book characters, most importantly Peter Porker: Spider-Ham (comedian John Mulaney). Also there’s a part where the Spider-cave or whatever has a bunch of vehicles and one of them is the Spider-Buggy which I think was a Hot Wheels toy.

Also Nicolas Cage is in the movie.

I think they get some good emotion out of the premise too. There’s a not too heavy-handed scene where older, alive Peter has to go face still-grieving-over-dead-Peter-Miles-dimension Aunt May (Lily Tomlin, NASHVILLE). The emotional tension is thick without resorting to the “characters speak quietly and then go silent and look sad because this is the powerful part” animation cliche that I’ve become hyper-aware of since being annoyed by one of the ICE AGEs on a plane years ago.

Also hats off to the soundtrack, which honestly feels like “what music would this kid listen to?” more than “what are the marketable names to list on an ad?” The score by Daniel Pemberton (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [seriously, I’m a big fan of his score for that]) also has a unique energy to it. For some parts he recorded the orchestra and then had a DJ scratch with it!


I sorta got my start writing reviews for The Ain’t It Cool News, and that makes me feel connected to the rise of what Harry Knowles called “Geek” culture that took place over the past two decades. For all Harry’s many faults, he was always very positive about trying to prop up the types of things he loved and spread his enthusiasm for them into the mainstream. He wanted comic book movies and sci-fi and fantasy and all that to be huge and beloved by everyone. Meanwhile, the infamous talkbacks showed the other side of the coin. What I assume was a minority of angry bile-spewers started to dominate the conversation, seeming to hate most things and most people, using anonymity as an excuse for crudeness and cruelty, providing a daily reminder that vile misogyny, racism and homophobia were still out there in force, even (especially?) among those people into the same things you were into that the internet magically brought you closer to.

I still think about the talkbackers often, because the same forces of ugliness seem to have spread across video games, Twitter, the world. At the same time, Harry’s dream came true: super hero movie universes are a no-sign-of-going-away staple of pop culture. And along with $200 million adaptations of obscure space comics with talking raccoons came a broadening of the types of lives and voices that can be seen in comics and movies. But some conservative part of the culture stubbornly resists, somehow seeing inclusion as an attack on their lives. But mommy, I don’t want to share the cookies! And since social media has taken over so many normal people’s days, and is so good at amplifying obnoxiousness, what used to be niche nerd fights are now water cooler conversation.

It’s so weird to me because aside from the self-evident rightness of different cultures and backgrounds being able to exist and take part in entertainment, it’s just more interesting to see new variations on characters or stories than to see the same shit every time. It’s so fucking stupid. They’re punishing themselves.

SPIDER-VERSE doesn’t (and shouldn’t) address any of that. But Miles is a beloved mixed race character who came to us in 2011 in the context of an online clash between people who campaigned for Donald Glover to play Spider-Man in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and people who clutched their pearls at the idea of him not being white like in the drawings. I think SPIDER-VERSE works as a metaphor for the joy of diversity, cultural and otherwise, in both fiction and reality. In this story, Miles existing doesn’t take away this version of Peter Parker, or that version. They all can exist simultaneously, together or separate. And since Miles, the various Peters, Gwens and the others each occupy the role of “Spider-___” in their own part of the Spider-Verse – being alternate dimension versions of the same person – it follows that people can at the same time be…

  • all alike no matter their race, background, whether they are a talking animal or not, etc.
  • their own beautiful selves, informed by their experiences and circumstances, some shared, some very different

…and that’s not a contradiction. They’re not from the same reality, or even in the same medium of animation, but they can get along and work together and learn from each other and enjoy each other’s company.

I mean I’m sure they just did this Spider-Verse thing because it’s a fun gimmick. But if you think about it it’s kinda beautiful, too.

SPIDER-VERSE is an animated movie, is a super hero movie, is a Spider-Man movie, and it does each of those identities proud (love the SPIDER-MAN 3 reference), but it also stands on its own in each category. There’s nothing like it. I feel certain it will inspire little artist kids, and confident it will encourage more stylistic boldness in the animation studios. Maybe after we’ve seen sequels and spin-offs and stuff we’ll be used to it and lose track of how brand new it feels right now, but it will still be a great movie. I would go so far as to say that SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is really fuckin cool. The more I think about it the more I love it.

Turns out we really did need yet another Spider-Man movie. Life can be like that.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 at 2:34 pm and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

52 Responses to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

  1. This review brought a god damn tear to my eye.

  2. SPIDER-VERSE is great. I saw it opening night and then jumped at the chance to see it again in IMAX. It’s definitely one of those movies you have to see on the big screen. I actually never bothered seeing it in 3D because I saw it in 2D and thought the blending of styles gave the movie a 3D look.

    So yeah, the movie looks terrific, but it also has a good story and a bunch of characters you actually give a shit about. It gets off to a really strong start with the introduction of Miles and his world. It’s probably my favorite part of the movie. They could have easily made a great movie just about Miles Morales, but the larger SPIDER-VERSE stuff works too! Every Spider-Person gets a cool little comic book recap intro and all the voice actors are well cast (yes, even Nic Cage). Older, overweight Pete, Spider-Gwen and the rest of the Spiders become Miles’ spider-support group and it results in a bunch of funny/sweet moments.

  3. Hey this isn’t the only 2018 animated superhero movie starring Nic Cage – he’s also in Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

  4. Whether or not we needed it, this is the best Spiderman movie after Spiderman 2, probably the best overall superhero movie since The Dark Knight, the weirdest and most interesting superhero movie since Batman v Superman, and honestly the best animated movie I’ve seen in years.

    I’m sick to death of superhero movies and swore them off after Thor 3, and I still loved this rather unabashedly.

  5. I was pretty down on this one when it was announced. Sounded like a desperate toy commercial with what I’ve been calling pallet-swaps. But dammit did this one capture me and turn me around. I absolutely loved this one and what’s more, it made me maybe finally come around on ‘pallet-swapping’ and see the good that can come of it.

  6. great review vern

    i’m taking the kids to see this this weekend based on your review

  7. Just from the trailers, this looks like a comic book film that’s finally using the comic book medium as a visual template. I really loved back in the early days of the superhero boom how movies like Raimi’s Spiderman and Lee’s Hulk really thought about what it would mean to let comic books inform how these films looked.

    Sure, Marvel and DC have felt a little freer to add bright colors and absurd visuals to their movies, but they only started doing this after a decade of making these movies palatable to the general public by downplaying much of the silly stuff you might find in an actual comic book. (I wonder if Lee’s Hulk would have received a warmer reception if it came out fifteen years later).

  8. Story and characters were decent enough in this one, but having run out of just about all patience for action and especially Super Hero movies that fumble the action/Super Heroics part, Spider-verse’s perpetuation of the animated equivalent of ill framed,shaky-cammed, spastic edited “post-action” filmatics just really diminished the film’s potential for me. My 9 year old nephew, who had a good time overall, confessed the flick’s “style” gave him a tiny headache.

    Characters like the X-men’s Storm, Bishop, Jean Grey/ Phoenix, Kitty Pride, Jubilee, Psylocke… and Black Panther, Blade, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, Falcon, James “War Machine” Rhodes, Wasp… and Wonder Woman, Bat-Girl/Oracle, Black Canary, Hawk-Girl… and Lando and Princess Leia are decades long enduring comic book/fantasy mainstays… having been made such… by the same fanboy community, that now… gets accused of being opposed to inclusion. It would seem that with regards to the other side of the coin, of the contemporary champions of diversity faction, this narrative doesn’t quite add up. The long in the tooth nature of the aforementioned characters not only substantively contradicts the accusation, but makes apparent the false nature of the contemporary diversity champions’ self congratulatory pretense that they invented the concept, and have had to drag it, kicking and screaming, into this hostile and toxic environment. As almost all of the aforementioned characters were wholecloth original creations, they also provoke the question of why the contemporary diversity champions seem to lack the courage of their convictions to craft new hero personas for Miles Morales and the like.

  9. I saw this twice. Once in 3D and again in 2D. I never intentionally see 3D movies and only saw it in that format because of showtime concerns, but I must say… the final act of this film is indeed vastly superior in 3D. And the end credit montage is a wild theme park ride worthy of the price of admission all on its own. I wish the weirder spider-beings got more screen time and more to do, but I really loved the style and engery on display.

    I’m kinda surprised to see that Vern didn’t mention my favorite character. But then, I’m also kinda glad he didn’t mention it because the villain in question has one of the all time great reveals and has remained totally hidden in the advertising.

    Overall, a solid 9/10. The plot is a bit thin when you think about it, but it’s so much fun that it doesn’t matter. Not every story has to be complex to be well told.

  10. Since this is a movie that even the biggest grumps seem to enjoy, I really wanna see it, but man, every time I see clips of it, that herky-jerky low frame rate character animation pisses me off. Honestly, while more and more people seem to celebrate stylized animation and character design, I get increasingly annoyed by it. You shouldn’t overthink art, but “Why?” is a question, that pops more and more into my head, whenever a new animated trailer shows up. Normally it’s when a movie like PETS comes out and the humans in it barely resemble humans anymore, but this is the first time, where the animation itself leads to huge headscratches.

    But well, I seem to be the only one with that problem and since I haven’t seen the movie, it maybe works much better or even has a clever purpose in the full length version, so I just zip it until further notice.

  11. Despite being a tad too formulaic and feeling like it was trying too hard at times, I loved this. Funny as hell, very visually appealing, and extremely good-natured. Miles is a well-written, great character: funny, brave and cowardly, clever and stupid in ways that felt very true for a teen. Also loved how trippy the movie got; The fractal stoplight was a favorite, and a random onlooker’s reaction to it got a huge laugh out of me.
    This and Teen Titans Go were by far the superhero movies I enjoyed the most this year (haven’t seen the new ant man or Aquaman yet…)

  12. One thing that’s bothered me about when “traditional animation” was replaced in movies with CG is that the movies started to all look the same. There was stylistic variation between OLIVER AND COMPANY and THE LAST UNICORN that didn’t really exist between MEGAMIND and OVER THE HEDGE–at least not to a great degree. Everything just wanted to appear lifelike.

    So I definitely see SPIDER-VERSE as a step forward. Finally, some damn style.

    The script is a clever-formulaic, which is something I’m not sure I’m capable of articulating further. But it doesn’t matter, because it works and I had a really good time watching this.

  13. This was truly astounding. I loved this movie. I always wanted to see Spidey in a forest, it just seems like such a natural choice, and although what we got wasn’t a specific ACTION scene it did have; three Spidey’s, learning to web swing and a MacGuffin that could not be allowed to fall. I think that doing post modern / in joke stuff is pretty dangerous especially the accursed REFERENCES that really annoy losers who like to video themselves in their gamer chairs but this movie just kept things coming with such furious speed. Whether it is the protagonist being embarrassed by his dad, the villain ripping open portals to other dimensions, the introduction of new characters, the villains motivation, everything is delivered so fast (seemingly giving equal time to every joke, fight, betrayal, reveal) it all works. I really liked older Spiderman, instead of the son learning to be a man, its the fuck up learning to be a dad. Instead of with great power comes great responsibility its – stop crying, put down the cheeseburger and get on with it.

    Really liked the music, this is my playlist –

    What’s Up Danger – Blackway & Black Caviar
    Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G.
    Sunflower – Post Malone & Swae Lee
    People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul – James Brown
    Apache (Grandmaster Flash Mix) – Incredible Bongo Band
    Elevate – DJ Khalil
    The Boogie – Outasight
    Let Go – Beau Young Prince
    The Number Song (Medley) – DJ Shadow
    St. Elmo’s Fire – John Parr
    Start a Riot – DUCKWRTH & Shaboozey
    Buss This – Ghetto Philharmonic
    The Choice Is Yours (Revisited) – Black Sheep
    Way Up – Jaden Smith

  14. For those who have seen it (JOKE SPOILER): I don’t know why because it’s so dumb but to me the funniest thing in the movie is after Peter has been making a big deal about plans to steal a bagel from the lab, and then he does during the escape, and you hear some employee of the lab yell “He took a bagel!” as if really offended by the audacity of it.

  15. I loved this movie. And I’m gonna share the second-to-last paragraph of this review with a few people I know who are stil liffy about seeing it. Very nicely summed up, I feel the same way.

  16. (CONTINUING JOKE SPOILER) it’s also great that when Spidey throws the bagel back at the attackers it hits one in the head and a sound bubble pops up reading “BAGEL’D!”

  17. Vern – SPIDER-MAN 2 also has an ADR bit near the start where someone yells “Hey, Spider-Man stole that guy’s pizza!” I wonder if it was a callback.

  18. My favorite joke is that one of Spider-Ham’s superpowers is the ability to float through the air when he smells a delicious pie.

  19. And, more specifically, that it’s one of the traits he thinks Miles needs to be an effective superhero.

  20. Is there a reason that Spider-Pig’s hand is soaking wet when we first meet him? Is it supposed to be that it’s a sweaty joke? Or is there something else going on?

    Also, I love that Spider-Pig was a spider who was bitten by a radio active pig. And that his final line is a looney tunes reference. And that he is the only one to fall into the dimensional rift in a Christ pose. And what Dan pointed out.

    I just wish there was more of Spider-Pig, Noir, and Penny Parker and her robot. It felt like they were underused and didn’t get to shine enough after their mind-melting group introduction.

    Of course, you also had the really well drawn Aunt May on the other side of things. How the filmmakers made aunt may of all people into a memorable badass hero is perhaps the film’s greatest achievement. Sony was alledgedly working on an adventures of young aunt May movie during the Amazing Spider-Man era. It sounded horrible then, but with this iteration, hell, I’d love to watch a movie about her here and now. I hope she stays part of the gang for the sequels.

  21. Hey Vern! Great review. Not much to add to all these comments as I agree with many of them. This has definitely been a favorite of mine from this past year. I am a total Marvel Zombie and love the MCU stuff too for the most part but honestly I would be just as or even more excited to see MCU go in the direction of high quality animated movies for more of their properties. I think Fantastic Four would work better as an animated movie with some panache vs. the dreadful live action ones. I mean, for the most part even “live action” MCU movies are already animated for the most part. Entire suits, backgrounds, ships, locations, etc are all computer modeled. It looks awesome to be sure but why not go the extra distance and animate the people. Maybe they could keep some of the bigger names around if all they had to do was give great voice performances and not have to ‘roid out months before the shooting. I don’t know. Anyway, great stuff and glad it has a good following so far.

  22. Just saw this film at my local cinema (and went straight from that screening to the period piece The Favourite). Just got back from both of those and Into the Spider-Verse wad great. As was everything I’ve sern this year. Saw Colette on the 1st.

    Bohemian Rhapsody tonight and A Star is Born tomorrow. At this rate, I’m going to have seen more films at the cinema in January this year than all of 2018.

  23. On the subject of unauthorised Turkish remakes, where Turkish Captain America and El Santo battle Evil Spider-Man … with resurrection powers in 3 Dev Adam is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

    I-Mockery.com | 3 Dev Adam!

    I-Mockery.com | 3 Dev Adam!

  24. I love the fact that there’s an an American animated movie that features an anime Japanese schoolgirl character, I want us weebs to have our time to shine the same way fans of American superheros have had.

    Also, what was up with the year 2018 and Spider-Man? We had this movie and the great PS4 video game but both Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, am I the only one weirded out by that? Can all that really be a coincidence? I guess so, but it’s a weird one.

    Also, I’ve been thinking about the talkbackers myself a lot lately as that for me was all a decade/decade+ ago now, while there were some good times and there’s a little nostalgia, overall it’s not a community I miss at all, there was just so much exhausting nerd rage.

    And yeah, definitely a lot of stuff I look back on and kinda cringe about, stuff I often just kinda laughed off at the time but is definitely something you look back on in a different light today.

  25. Yeah, the Talkbacks were both the best and the worst of modern nerddom. If you managed to have a real conversation (which was definitely possible and happened more often than you would believe), it could lead to long, happy geek-outs and recommendations of great movies, comic books, etc. That was especially awesome, because you really had a chance to talk to other nerds from all over the world for the first time.

    And well, then there were of course the not so good conversations. But even here they resembled most of the time more a good natured “Yo mamma” battle, where everybody threw the most outragous insults at each other, then had a good laugh and met the next day at the same spot, to do it all again.

    But of course then the REAL assholes took over. They were always there and always the loudest part, but still a minority. From then on it was all “everything sucks” negativity and the kind of rotten humanity that is now synonymous with online nerddom and I don’t think I need to tell y’all about it. We were all there!

    Man, nerds and geeks had a weird evolution. From “Lonely, socially awkward, lame, but harmless outsider, who enjoys supposed kids stuff like science fiction and fantasy” to “The cool kids who run the entertainment industry and can destroy the reputation of an unreleased movie with one early review”, to the sad current state of “Sad, toxic asshole, who ruins everything for everybody with extreme racism, sexism and everything else that’s bad about humanity”.

  26. I think my biggest 2018 online regret is getting too personal here in accusing somebody of being something they are not without giving them the benefit of the doubt. I definately see a correlation between doing that and no longer feeling like a part of the community here. So here is hoping I leavened my lesson here in 1019.

  27. “But of course then the REAL assholes took over. They were always there and always the loudest part, but still a minority. From then on it was all “everything sucks” negativity and the kind of rotten humanity that is now synonymous with online nerddom and I don’t think I need to tell y’all about it. We were all there!”

    Just a point I want to add/expand on, it’s gone just a bit beyond online nerddom and we’re still here! (right in the middle of it, unfortunately …)

  28. Went to see this with my 6 year old daughter at an advance screening a few weeks ago and we both loved it. She still thinks it’s hilarious to come up to me and put her hand on my shoulder and say “Hey.” I think this is my favourite Spider-Man movie, edging out SPIDER-MAN 2. And I fuckin’ love SPIDER-MAN 2. Well done Sony, it took way too many bad Spider-Man movies to get there, but you finally did it. Please don’t let it go to your head.

    I wasn’t hot on the herky-jerky animation style when I saw it in trailers but I appreciated it more when I saw it in the context of the movie. An interesting thing is that although in general the film is animated at 12 frames per second (i.e. every second frame), sometimes characters in the same scene will be animated on opposite frames. I don’t know if this is a way of portraying how certain characters are out of sync with eachother, but I can’t wait to get this one on blu-ray and pick apart all these little animation details.

    This film also reinforces how great the design of Spider-Gwen’s costume is. Probably the best looking superhero costume I’ve seen in forever. I also loved this film’s take on all the different Spider-Man villains, especially one particular surprise reveal (*).

    As much as I love what this movie does with the idea of parallel universes, I hope subsequent movies give these characters a little more space to breathe. I’d love to see a movie that’s just about Miles and/or Gwen.

    (*) – Has anyone else seen the various theories floating around about the Aunt May’s brief exchange with this character? I think it’s a real stretch to claim there’s any romantic component to it (despite the comic book precedent) but I like how it implies a whole history between them. The film is in general very good at this; building whole universes out of small details.

  29. CrustaceanLove

    I noticed that line and thought it subtly implied a romantic history. However, you don’t get “points” for including queer characters if they’re not actually queer. Regardless of the romantic angle, it was indeed a great joke and a superb bit of world building.

  30. “despite the comic book precedent”

    Wait what now?

  31. If they are hell bent on making more Indiana Jones movies, this would be a great approach. I would love to see an animated Indy movie that looks like this.

  32. Prepare to ENTER THE SPOILER-VERSE:

    Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 131

    Appearing in "My Uncle...My Enemy?" Featured Characters:  Spider-Man (Peter Parker)  Supporting Characters:  Mary Jane Watson  Daily Bugle Staff  J. Jonah Jameson   Betty Brant   Ned Leeds   Joe Robertson   Aunt May  Antagonists:  Hammerhead   Doctor Octopus  Other Characters: Jean-Pierre Rimbaud (Mentioned) Gwen Stacy (Mentioned) Locations: New York City Canada Items: Spider-Man's Web-Shooters Doctor Octopus' Tentacles Vehicles: Spider-Mobile Helicopters Synopsis for "My Uncle...My Enemy...

  33. The idea of Aunt May and Liv Octavius being romantically linked at some point in that alt reality never occurred to me. It’s a fun idea that I could see playing out in one of the comic books, but probably never in any of these animated films.

    I thought the “LIV.” thing came off as another ‘In this reality, Aunt May is IN ON IT’ moment.

    Speaking of Doctor Octopus, here are my top 3 Spider-People I’d like to see in the sequel:

    The Superior Spider-Man
    Spider-Man 2099
    Spider-Girl

  34. @Wadew

    (SPOILER) Spider-Man 2099 *IS* in the movie’s post-credit scene!

  35. Japanese Tokusatsu Toei Spider-man and super-depressing Japanese Manga Spider-man or no-sale…

  36. Oh, I knew about Aunt May and Doc Oc (Classic Edition), I thought what was being said was that there was a past romantic history in one of the comic versions already of Aunt May and the Doc Oc version in this film (Liv Sapphic Edition).

  37. I liked this one, but I don’t think I liked it quite as much as literally every other human being in the world, but it is very good. The visual style is above reproach and should be commended for finally looking outside the Pixar box, it has the best soundtrack of any superhero movie, and there’s no doubt that its inclusive approach is refreshing. Plus, it’s oddly the most accurate representation of modern-day New York I have ever seen on film, probably because they could get shots of NY in motion that no live-action crew could ever pull off.

    None of this is small potatoes. That said, I think it sort of squandered its potential by relegating the interesting part of the story (all the alternate Spider-People) to the second half of the movie, where there wasn’t enough time to really explore any of them. They’re pretty much just visual or meta jokes. Which is entertaining, I guess, but I’d quite frankly rather learn more about where they came from and how it differs from the reality they find themselves in and how their experience has made them a different kind of Spider-Person than watch yet another gifted teen deal with his overprotective daddy issues. I like Miles but so much time is spent on his extremely generic story (I’m all for greater representation but merely changing the race of the protagonist does not change the overplayed themes, despite what literally everybody interviewed on the Blu-ray has to say about it) that the most interesting stuff in the movie gets short shrift. Like, I want to see the pathos of Spider-Pig. Spider-Man Noir is like “I love you guys” at the end and I’m like “Really? You never shared a single dialogue exchange with most of these people.” (Also, shouldn’t Peter B. and Spider-Gwen have, like, any reaction at all to seeing their dead loved ones resurrected in a different form? I feel like that never gets dealt with.) I think this kind of superficial, gag-oriented approach to the extended Spider-Cast would have worked better if there were dozens of them (I know I wasn’t the only one hoping that the slack-jawed slugabed known as Newspaper Spider-Man would make an appearance), but since there are so few, it seems like a waste that we never get to know any of them.

    And even though Miles’ hero quest takes up the majority of the running time, there still isn’t enough time to make it particularly convincing. He goes from completely inept to uber competent without even the benefit of a training montage. Believing in yourself is great and all, but so is doing the bare minimum of preparation for the task ahead.

    I definitely enjoyed it (my eyeballs felt dry and tired by the end from not wanting to take my eyes off the screen) but it’s a little less satisfying in retrospect. I’m positive about the movie overall but I can’t help feeling like they left most of the really good stuff on the table.

  38. Also did anyone notice the dad’s name is Jefferson Davis? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ABOUT When I saw the name in the credits I was so shocked I was sure my brain was misremembering the name of the one and only president of the Confeseracy. I truly have no idea what anyone was thinking. It’s like asking a Jewish actor to play a character named Adolf Hitler.

  39. I did not notice that, and yeah, what the fuck? I don’t even know if that’s like, problematic or something, but it’s definitely out-and-out bizarre. It’s so insane it has to be intentional, but what in God’s name anybody thought they were doing with that I couldn’t even begin to guess. I’d say it’s a joke intended for the grown-ups, but… what joke?

  40. I know it comes from the comics, but I haven’t found anything where the writer explains it. My only guess is that it has something to do with Miles being in a different dimension from ours where history happened differently?

  41. My guess was that about 10 years ago, some white comics-writing jagoff thought it was really hilarious that the president of the Confederacy had a name that would sound more fitting on a contemporary African-American and didn’t give a second thought to how that would come across.

    I’m also assuming that white comics-writing jagoff was Brian Michael Bendis, and if so I’m sure he had a hilarious anecdote delivered over several overlapping word bubbles explaining the origin of the unlikely name, but since none of this was in the movie, we’re just stuck with this headscratcher of a character name that I truly cannot believe nobody thought to change, especially when they realized they would have to ask an actual black man to call himself by that name. I cannot even IMAGINE having the utter lack of shame to even attempt to have that conversation.

  42. Randal: Its cool, I’m taking it back.

    Actually I like Vern’s theory that it’s a hint that history played out differently in Miles’ universe, and Jefferson Davis was just some obscure senator from Mississippi during the uneventful 1860’s.

  43. Okay, I’m European, but I’m hearing this name for the first time. How important is that guy and how often does he come up in general? Judging by the fact that this is also the very first time I hear anybody complain about that issue, I would guess “not very often” and it’s possible that this is just an accident. “I can’t name every President” and “We don’t talk about the dark sides of our history very detailed” are two things that I hear Americans say all the time.

  44. I don’t buy that. Maybe when the comic was published, sure, it’s possible that nobody noticed. Every American kid learns about that guy in junior high when you do like six weeks on the Civil War, but Americans are, more often that not, dumb as shit and rarely encouraged to be anything but, so they quickly forget everything they’ve been taught in school almost immediately. Also, I can’t imagine there have ever been more than two or three black people at a time in the Marvel offices so it’s possible that somebody noticed but nobody cared. But this is the woke Spider-Man movie. If you could hear the way the crew talked about it, you’d swear they were curing cancer. So if that’s the angle they’re taking, somebody should have noticed. Somebody should have cared. Even if you’re not offended (which I’m not–I don’t believe I have that right) at the very least it’s fucking distracting. Like, as a rule of thumb, don’t name a heroic character after a historical villain unless you want to have a lot of explaining to do.

    Really, it’s more inexplicable than anything else.

  45. It woulda definitely been Brian Michael Bendis who came up with the name, as he created the character. I read the majority of Ultimate Spiderman, though, and there was never any explanation for it, pithy or otherwise. I tried looking it up just now and he doesn’t seem to have addressed it outside the comics, either. That he thought it was amusing because it sounded like a modern black name is a reasonable guess. The character in the comics is highly prejudiced against superheroes and mutants, so that could somehow play into it as well.

    I really like Ultimate Spiderman and Brian Michael Bendis’ work throughout its run, but I agree, that name was a bad call.

  46. Reading over my comments from yesterday, I come off pretty down on this movie, which is ridiculous. It’s obviously an admirable achievement in many different categories and an undeniable delight to watch for its entire running time. If my only real complaint besides a weird character name is that I wanted more, then I think it’s safe to say this is a really fucking good movie.

  47. I asked about the Jefferson Davis thing on Twitter, incorrectly assuming I’d be directed to some interview with Bendis that would explain what he intended. First, people were so unfamiliar with historical significance of the name that almost everyone who replied thought I was asking why Miles has a different last name than his dad. After I clarified there was one person who seemed to remember reading that Bendis named him after a friend named that without making the connection.

    I don’t know, I agree that it’s weird, but there’s no chance that the name is being used in tribute to the Confederate president. So I’m okay with that asshole being so forgotten that his name can be better known as a supporting character in a comic book. Kind of like how many people now only know George Wallace as that old guy that’s funny on Twitter.

  48. Well, I am a bit lukewarm about this movie, although I really liked it. The herky-jerky animation is still a big headscratcher and annoyed me to no end, but at least during the action scenes it looked great (plus all the other visual ideas were really cool). And it really is a good movie, but then it’s also just another “Believe in yourself, having good friends and a loving family makes you stronger” movie. They worked so hard on making a visually unique superhero cartoon, that they didn’t bother to come up with a message, that hasn’t been done in any other kids movie before. (Also since his new friends are, except for Peter B., more or less just sightgags without any true relevance to the story, the whole friendship thing feels a bit hollow.)

    Still: Really good movie, but I think ISLE OF DOGS should’ve won the animation Oscar.

    P.S.: Am I the only one who really loved that they dared to break the “Female scientist who works for the bad guy, but is the only one on his team who regrets it” trope?

  49. This movie’s so good that I’m weirdly kicking myself for not liking it more- It’s got a great concept, an incredibly smart script, and really, really good voice acting. It’s simultaneously the funniest and the most heart-rending of all the Spider-Man movies. It has interesting things to say about diversity and inclusion without being overbearing; it’s also cutely meta without elbowing you with how clever it is. I really don’t have anything bad to say about this movie or any valid complaints, except for some reason I just couldn’t relax and get into it!

    Look, I don’t consider myself an anti-animation guy or anything- there’s tons of animated movies that I love. But maybe because the style on display here is so crazy, that instead of just letting the movie wash over me, I just spent the whole movie thinking “wait, this really doesn’t look right”. Like wadew said, this probably needs to be seen in the theater – even watching it on Netflix 4K on a decently sized TV, it just felt like this wasn’t the format it was intended to be seen in. Akin to watching a movie in the wrong aspect ratio (even though it’s not) or watching a 3D movie but forgetting to put the glasses on. Yes, I know they intentionally blurred the background to make the foreground stand out, but it’s no less headache-inducing, and the few shots (mostly wide shots of the city) that are completely in focus made me think “man I really wish they did the whole movie this way”. And yes, I know complaining that an animated movie is y’know, animated, is a dumb thing to say, but there’s something inherently distancing about the format to me- there’s no way that the crazy action sequences here could ever compete with say, anything from the Raimi trilogy. The wildest, craziest stuff ever happens in this movie, and instead of being like “Holy Shit” my mind honestly kinda drifted like it always does in the overstuffed roller-coaster climaxes of most Pixar movies. Plus the movie runs right under 2 hours, which is pretty brief for a comic book movie. but feels like an eternity when watching an animated movie. Ok, maybe I totally am anti-animation and just never knew it until now.

    So yeah – if this movie was live action, it’d be my favorite Spider-Man movie, easily. I’d still recommend this to everyone and I’m not going to argue with anyone who says this is the best Spider-Man movie (because it is in so many ways). Hopefully I’ll watch it again one day and just relax and appreciate how special it truly is.

    *Having just re-watched the Raimi trilogy, I spent alot of the movie really wishing Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Bryce Dallas Howard came back to reprise their roles (especially when the opening suggests that this is in the same timeline). Then I realized that would be kinda shitty since it would mean Maguire’s Parker would die a pretty unceremonious death, and Howard would have to play love interest to a teenage boy. I do think besides that angle, it also would have been pretty powerful to have Emma Stone voice Gwen Stacy after what happens to her in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (5 year old SPOILER). #justiceforgwen

  50. I recall reading that they *did* at least think about trying to get Maguire in the movie (possibly even in a live-action segment iirc), but I think they wound up nixing it for the sake of simplifying an already wildly complicated movie. He wouldn’t have been the Peter that dies, though, he would have been the Raimi Spider-Man. I think the Peter who dies in this one has a history deliberately *similar to* but distinct from ol’ Toby’s version of the character.

  51. DISCLAIMER- absolutely no research beyond me thinking “he didn’t I read this somewhere?” was performed prior to posting the above comment, so I could have just dreamed all that.

  52. neal: I’m in sort of the opposite boat, but it took me to the same location. I like the movie but feel a little guilty for not liking it more. But for me, the problem is not the animation, which I found so endlessly enthralling that I damn near burned the eyes out of my head staring at it, but the story. Sadly, the most admirable aspect of the story is also its main problem: Miles might be a victory for inclusion, but as a character he’s a nonstarter, saddled with a generic and perfunctory Hero’s Journey For Dummies that’s freighted with a double-header of the two most shopworn themes in mainstream entertainment: both an unfathomably trite “Believe In Yourself (A Registered Trademark of the Walt Disney Corporation)” narrative AND a bunch of secondhand Daddy Issues. Literally all he has to do to become an unstoppable crimefighting machine is decide he can. He goes from incompetent to invincible between scenes. Practice? Dedication? Sacrifice? Those are for losers. Real heroes just have to show up. Even TEAM AMERICA knew you at least needed a phony baloney training montage to sell that transition. And I’m not saying the relationship between him and his inexplicably named dad is badly done, but christ, man, how many times do we have to see this same story? It’s a bummer, because everything around this central arc, from the animation to the music to the supporting cast, was absolutely stuffed with creativity and elbow grease, but the main character is easily the least interesting Spider-Man ever seen this side of that drip from the newspaper funny pages.

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