Multiple animated Spider-heroes set your senses tingling
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse’ is an irreverent and humorous spin on the web-slinging superhero
This week two superheroes find themselves slugging it out at the box office. But can Aquaman take on the multiple Spideys? Screenplay writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothnam add a refreshing take and vision to the oft-told story of the teenager who finds his spider sense tingling and swings from Manhattan skyscrapers while fighting crime.
In this interpretation, we must ask how many Spider-men are too many? When it comes to the number of reboots of the Marvel comic book hero, it would seem any number is too few. In this latest version – a fully animated feature length film -- the idea has been taken a step further. Multiple Spider-people from various parallel universes congregate in the present after bad-man Kingpin messes with the space-time continuum.
If it weren’t for the kinetic, psychedelic animation – which sucks you into the wonderful world of graphic drawings, speech bubbles and vibrant panelled comic books -- you might have questioned the notion of multiple universes, with multiple versions of Spider-man. These include an anime spider-girl Peni-Parker (Kimiko Glenn), Spider-Ham (a pig, voiced by John Mulaney), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), a black and white Spider-Man Noir (Nicholas Cage) and a pot-bellied Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson).
The story, though, is told from the point of view of Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who experiences his own origin story even as the writers take digs by referencing the several previous versions that revisited how Peter Parker acquired superhuman abilities.
Miles gains entry into the elite Spidey club after being bitten by a radioactive arachnid. He’s hiding this altered reality from his policeman father (Brian Tyree Henry) but is inclined to confide in his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali).
United with the time-travelling avatars of masked crusaders—bound by the adage “with great power comes great responsibility”—Miles must face-off against Kingpin and Doc Ock (Kathryn Hahn) and save the universe from annihilation.
The joy in what directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman pull off is in the details – from the art and animation techniques to the pounding soundtrack, the pop culture references and the various cameos (including Chris Pine, Zoe Kravitz and Liev Schreiber). But also in the irreverence and the casual comments on inclusiveness.
The climax is a bit of a drag, but that’s a small niggle in a film that celebrates what we unconditionally love about comic books.
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