Miles: How am I supposed to save the world?
Spider-Man: You can’t think about saving the world. You have to think about saving one person.
Everyone knows how Peter Parker got his super powers. However, this movie focuses on 14-year-old Miles Morales, who is reluctantly enrolled at an elite New York board school. After he is bitten by a radioactive spider, Miles begins to experience drastic changes that he cannot explain such as being able to stick to walls and having a weird instinct feeling. To make sense of what is happening, Miles retraces his steps to where he was bitten by the spider. While doing so, he discovers Peter Parker/Spider-Man mid-fight with the crime boss Kingpin. He was trying to keep him from opening a hole in the space-time continuum, which could potentially destroy New York. Ultimately, Kingpin kills Spider-Man, but Kingpin’s expierment results in another older Spider-Man from a parallel universe showing up and encountering Miles. Together they encounter four more spiderlings which includes Gwen Stacy, an anime-style girl from the distant future, a cartoon pig, and black-and-white 1930s noir Spider-Man. Upon getting over their shock and confusion, everyone understands that they must work together to defeat Kingpin to return to their own respective universes.
The movie was incredible – from the character development to the animation style. I will admit that I was a bit hesitant at first to go see the movie, but I am glad that I did. The parallel universe concept in the movie was pulled off fantastically as it incorporated different versions of the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. It was nice to see some of the different comic book variations of Spider-Man interact with each other! One thing in particular that I greatly enjoyed about the movie was Mile’s relationship with his father. Like most teenagers, he is not entirely sure what to say or how to act around his parents. His father is a member of the police force, which adds an extra layer to it. At the end of the movie, their relationship is stronger.
Another thing that I greatly enjoyed was that the movie relies on the audience’s previous comic book movies knowledge, movies, and ultimately the characters. An example of this would be the opening sequence of the movie that tells the backstory of the soon-to-be-deceased Peter Parker, which essentially shows him as being the Tobey Maguire iteration of the character from the Raimi film trilogy. It had references to each of the movies in the Raimi trilogy from the upside-down kiss with MJ from Spider-Man, the train rescue from Spider-Man 2, and the pain-inducing dance sequence from Spider-Man 3. It serves as a clean break from the other iterations of the character.
Each of the different multiverse characters portraying their own genres provided plenty of different snippets of humor to play with. For example, Nicholas Cage’s Spider-Man Noir is a parody of goofy film noir clichés while Spider-Ham serves as the comedic relief as he is an absurd character. He basically helps the other iterations of Spider-Man feel more grounded by comparison. Miles Morales is by far the most relatable character and vulnerable lead to appear in a Spider-Man movie. His desire to create his own identity from his cop father’s is admirable, his awkward teenager-ness when he meets someone he is crushing on, ad his frustrations that he is struggling with mastering his powers.
These are all themes that are present in a majority of Spider-Man origin stories. Setting them in the plot of a multiverse was the perfect way to do so as it allows Miles to learn that there are numerous interpretations of who Spider-Man is and all of them are valid.
I enjoyed the movie thoroughly. The animation style is distinct, though at times it was a little hard to look at when the colors were blurring. However, the animation style was needed to differentiate between the parallel the universes that the other spiderlings came from. I highly encourage that you see the movie in theaters!
UPDATED TO ADD 1/16/19
Hi! This is Tcyoung who decided to check this movie out after all the hype. I loved the hell out of it! I’m going to add a few quick notes of my own on the movie.
The movie does a good job constructing these different variations on Spider-man. Using a typical opening to a superhero cartoon, it has a very quick and efficient way of explaining what their deal is, especially how the two human, red-and-black suit Peters differ from each other. They also do a good job of giving you enough of each character without detracting from the movie being Miles story through-and-through.
The character-work is tremendous, especially through animation which does a great job conveying emotion. I grew attached to these characters quickly.
Like Bumblebee (which also had Hallie Steinfeld and is pretty good), the character arcs and plot beats aren’t too out of the ordinary but they are executed pretty damn well.
But, yeah. This is a pretty good movie and I recommend you see it.