There can only be one was the exclamation n Highlander all those years ago. Turns out if you are Spider-Man, that’s not the case there can be loads of you!
Miles Morales is the latest entrant to the Spider Cinematic Universe or the SCU as only I am calling it. A young, smart, cool, spray can weaving teenager who has many of the same issues we all did back then(way back for me). Making friends and keeping them, navigating parental concerns and just being seen as cool are hard enough but then to throw in being bitten by a radioactive spider, having to learn what it means to be Spider-Man, the opening of several parallel dimensions, quantum theory, a cavalcade of villains and also the multi verse equivalents of himself thrown into his city desperately needing to get home and things are a little compiicated. Maybe that essay due on Great Expectations can wait!
This all sounds overly busy and unnecessarily complicated but this, after all, is a comic book world and these are fairly standard events within those panels. Into the Spider-Verse navigates all the characters, the relationships and humour with ease web-slinging neatly through the smallest of gaps to ensure that all references are understandable, well intended, double checked and acceptable to fan boys and first timers alike.
The script zips along with great pace and heart courtesy of Phil Lorde ( one of the brains behind the Lego movie) among others, and I would hazard a guess that they are all big Spider-Man fans. There is an affection at the heart of the film that is tangible and sincere. Care for these characters, every and each unique version, is taken and time given for them to explain their story and why being Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen/Spider-Ham matters and perhaps more importantly what it means to them. This is all topped off with some of the most breath taking animation, zipping and zinging between comic book styles and even harking back to those early pop art stylings in some of the backgrounds throughout the film providing the aesthetic of those early comics I was handed as a child. There has been a lot of thought put into this film, how it looks, what its message is and who these characters are. Even the standard, brief Stan Lee cameo appearance has a special poignancy given his recent passing. This is a comic come alive on the big screen in a manner that even the oldest comic book reader could appreciate.
With a soundtrack to rival that of Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther inspired album earlier in the year, Into the Spider-Verse completes the package to be arguably the best comic book film of the year and perhaps one of the best Spider-Man adaptations to have ever graced our screens.
This is not the old ‘with great power’ era. This is something new with a bigger, broader lesson at its heart. We all want to believe we too can be heroes. Into the Spider-Verse lets us know that pipe dream is well within our reach all we have to do is take a leap of faith.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is in cinemas now.