The Vermont Cynic

Animated “Spider-Man” swings into success

Allie O'Connor, Assistant Culture Editor

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I’ve seen a lot of Spider-Man movies. Probably one too many Spider-Man movies. After a while, they kind of bleed together.

Sophie Spencer

That being said, Tobey Maguire was not a bad Spider-Man. Neither was Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland appears to be a youthful, hilarious mix of a great Spider-Man and a great Peter Parker, with future movies on the horizon.

The upswing of Spider-Man’s on-screen popularity continues: “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” is now not only one of my favorite animated movies of all time, but also my favorite Spider-Man movie.

One of the latest entries into an oversaturated genre, the Golden Globe winner is a striking exercise in storytelling that matches its bold, captivating animation style.

The idea behind the film — several realities coming into one, several versions of one superhero meeting — is not new. However, this film feels as original as a comic book movie could possibly be.

Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, is a Brooklyn-born teenager who is faced with taking on the mantle of Spider-Man. However, he’s quite different than the Peter Parker we all know and love. Throughout the movie, we are reminded of the inexperience and his insecurities that surround his identity as New York City’s newest wall crawler.

We see Miles struggle alongside several other experienced web-slingers. We see him fail, we see him let himself and his friends down and we see him get kicked to the ground. We also see him get up. Over and over again.

The beauty of Miles’ character is that for not even one second are we allowed to forget that he’s utterly human. It’s easy to see heroes as something more than ourselves, so Miles’ resilience and dedication to both his superhero identity and his humanity is something I appreciated.

Alongside him is Peter B. Parker, voiced by Jake Johnson, and Gwen Stacy, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, who are the first to mentor Miles on how to be Spider-Man.

Johnson gives us the Spider-Man we didn’t know we wanted — the downtrodden, cynical Spider-Man from a different dimension than Miles. He’s been the hero for too long and is starting to feel it.

His character is a nice change of pace in a genre where hyper-dedicated, overly campy superheroes are around every corner.

It’s refreshing to see a Spider-Man that knows that with great power comes great responsibility or whatever, but a nap would be nice, too.
One of my only critiques of the film is that I really wish I had more to say about Steinfeld’s character. I know that in a movie with so many characters, it’s important that things don’t feel too busy. However, I feel as though Gwen was pretty underused.

That being said, the other Spider-people brought into the film lived up to the hype. John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage and Kimiko Glenn in their respective roles as Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir and Peni Parker are a welcome addition to the big screen.

Their visual gags, brilliant banter and different art styles make for a team of web-slingers you’d be crazy not to want on your side.

I can’t give kudos to the voice actors. Brian Tyree Henry voices Jeff Davis, Miles’ father, and Mahershala Ali voices Aaron Davis, Miles’ uncle. Both actors gave incredible emotional performances, their characters showing Miles love and support in different ways.

The art style is to die for. Every action-packed scene feels vibrant, alive and captivating. Even the more somber scenes are visual feats in and of themselves. The film uses retro accents such as pop-art coloring, comic book thought balloons and panels, written sound effects and the illusion of alignment flaws in color separation and shading.

In order to bring the film’s unique style to fruition, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation created a new visual language and rebuilt the animation and lighting pipeline from scratch.
Sony is currently in the process of patenting this method of animation, as well as the machine-learning component of the “Spider-Verse” animation process, which worked to streamline the animation process, according to a December 2018 Deadline article.

Last but not least, the music featured throughout the movie was jaw-dropping.

The soundtrack features jams like Post Malone and Swae Lee’s mellow and fun “Sunflower,” Nicki Minaj, Anuel AA, Bantu’s passionate “Familia” and DJ Khaled, Denzel Curry, YBN Cordae, Swavay and Trevor Rich’s energetic “Elevate.”

My favorite has to be Vince Staples’ powerful, almost otherworldly song “Home.”

From it’s conception, through its production, and up until opening day, this movie was a leap of faith, and Sony and Marvel stuck the landing.

I wasn’t sure how well a full length animated Spider-Man feature would go when I first heard about it, but “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” exists and succeeds with a passion and vivacity that makes me want two things: that future superhero movies take notes and that we get another one as soon as possible.

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Animated “Spider-Man” swings into success