Spider-Man is my least favorite on-screen superhero for a number of reasons. Reason #1: Two of the three actors that have portrayed the masked superhero over the last two decades are dull, lifeless blobs—I’m talking about Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield of course. Reason #2: If I have to sit through one more retelling of Spider-Man’s origin story, I am going to lose my mind. Finally, reason #3: There are too many Spider-Man movies, so why spend millions of dollars adding another lackluster adaptation to the collection? When my husband expressed excitement about seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I was unmoved. However, marriage is about compromise and admitting when you’re wrong, and boy was I wrong. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fresh, well-animated, and bitingly clever take on Marvel’s most popular—and most overplayed—superhero.

Miles (Shameik Moore), a middle-school aged kid with an artistic side, is bitten by a radioactive spider while spending time with his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali). Soon after, Miles begins hanging from ceilings while trying to hide his newfound powers from his father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry). When bad guy Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) commissions an interdimensional collider, Milles soon realizes he’s not the only spider-man out there.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s animation mirrors a comic book strip. Admittedly, the grainy texture does take a second for your eyes to get used to; however, the animation adds an element of authenticity to an arguably unauthentic superhero. The experimental animation feels energetic and fast-paced, adding a dose of much-needed adrenaline to the franchise.

I benefited from knowing little to nothing about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, so I will do my best to reveal as little about the plot and characters as possible. That said, the other spider-men, which are voiced by Chris Pine, Jake Johnson, John Mulaney, Hailee Steinfeld, and Nicolas Cage– yes, the Nicolas Cage, elevate the movie both comedically and emotionally. In particular, Miles and Peter B. Parker’s (Jake Johnson) friendly banter had me chuckling to myself long after the punchline landed. Well-known characters in the Spider-Verse, such as Aunt May (Lily Tomlin), Mary Jane (Zoë Kravitz), and Doc Ock (Kathryn Hahn), feel unconventional in the best way. 

If I could suggest one thing, I’d suggest that you watch this alongside a true fan. The type of fan that loves Spider-Man despite bad movies and oversaturation in pop culture. To overhear a stranger’s reaction to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, to listen in on how much fun he was having was the best kind of feeling and reminded me why I love going to the movies.

Jennifer Cleary

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