A character whose cinematic rights were long held by Sony and who has only recently begun to integrate into the wider Marvel universe whose rights are held by Disney, in the grey area between these two worlds is where Spider-Man is unexpectedly his most colourful, that merging of corporate worlds having broken down the barriers and allowed him to travel Into the Spider-Verse.
The first full-length animated theatrical Spider-Man release, Into the Spider-Verse is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman from a screenplay by Phil Lord and Rothman and marks the first appearance in the title role of Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), though he is far from alone in carrying the film.
His father a policeman and his mother a nurse, if it had not been for good fortune and his superb test scores Miles would not have been able to enter the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy, an exclusive boarding school for high-performance students, but despite his demonstrated aptitude he feels out of place, sneaking out after hours to spend time with his uncle Aaron Davis (Hidden Figures‘ Mahershala Ali), black sheep of the family.
In an underground hideout, as he sprays the walls with graffiti, making the space over in his vision, Miles is bitten by a spider which in turn makes him over; a fan of the Spider-Man comics, Miles quickly realises what has happened to him though the powers which manifest are different from those he was expecting, nor is he able to control them.
Returning to the underground to try to locate the spider to determine its origin, what Miles finds instead is an underground laboratory where Spider-Man (Star Trek Beyond‘s Chris Pine) is fighting Kingpin (The 5th Wave‘s Liev Schreiber) to stop him from activating a particle accelerator which has already been causing seismic activity across the city and whose echoes stretch to worlds beyond.
Vibrant and dynamic, there is no way Into the Spider-Verse could have worked so effectively as a live-action film, a variety of animation styles blending together as the different characters from across the universes cracked open by Kingpin’s experiment congregate in Miles’ world, first among them the older, mildly dysfunctional Peter B Parker (The Mummy‘s Jake Johnson) and “Spider-Woman” Gwen Stacey (Ender’s Game‘s Hailee Steinfeld).
Complimenting the established Marvel Cinematic Universe without attempting to overwrite it, Into the Spider-Verse is in many ways the truest adaptation of a comic property since Watchmen with action sequences shaped like comic panels and appearances from “alternative” versions of characters who would likely never otherwise receive such exposure such as the retro-styled “Spider-Man Noir” (Mandy‘s Nicolas Cage) and the Looney-Tunes influenced “Spider-Ham” Peter Porker.
Producers Lord and Christopher Miller bringing the same grounded approach to physicality combined with extravagant imagination as they did when directing The Lego Movie, despite building with very different blocks they have achieved the same, making a hugely enjoyable and visually dazzling film which will delight both fans and those who have little interest in comics, their collaboration with Marvel bringing together two teams who are adept at breaking the rules of their genre in all the right ways.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is currently on general release and also screening in 3D