Madison: Ok I’m going to start by laying my cards on the table — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best-animated film of the year (better than Incredibles 2). It is one of my favorite films of the entire year. And I think it might be tied with Spider-Man: Homecoming for being the best Spider-Man film ever made.
Cole: Well, first off, Isle of Dogs is the second best-animated film, but yeah the animation of this movie is what makes it so good. The medium enhances its fun and playful message.
Tristan: Honestly, I like it better than Homecoming…To me, this is the best Spider-Man film to come out, and the most visually and comically spectacular.
Cole: Oooo, can we play the semantics game? This is the best Spider-Man movie, but Spider-Man 2 is still the best movie to have Spider-Man in it. And for the record, Tom Holland is the best actor to play Spider-Man.
Madison: I agree to those terms. I was about to lay down similar distinctions. I think specifically what makes the film a stand out is the amazing visual and graphic cinematography. It was a movie that knew it was based on comic books and didn’t shy away from it.
Cole: Animation makes a difference. For reference, Ang Lee’s Hulk tried a comic visual transition and style and it turned out…not as good.
Madison: The entire film has the tri-chromatic feel with vibrant neons and really dark blacks. Every scene is a rich texture of color, visual distortion, and cinematography. What aided this, was that within the context of the film, Spider-Man comics are read by the characters as well as used as a tool to provide backstory.
Cole: Did anyone get to see it in 3D? There were times I felt like I was watching an old red and blue 3D movie without the glasses. It’s also cool that the vivid reds, blues, and blacks are Spider-Man’s colors.
Madison: That is a technique called Chromatic Aberration. It is used to help the film feel like it was filmed with actual lenses and to enhance the comic-i-ness of the story.
Tristan: I would love to se it in 3D, and I get what you’re talking about Cole. I sat in awe of the animation and visuals. It helped that I sat next to one of the animators (our very own M. V. Schroeder), but I couldn’t get enough of it. And they didn’t shy away from complex and crazy scenes. The fight scenes, the chase scenes, it was all complex and fun.
Madison: I almost can’t believe that we’ve only gotten live-action Spider-Man films. I know there have been animated series but I don’t think there’s been an animated Spider-Man film. Seeing it from the trailers to the screen it almost reminds you why Spider-Man works so well on paper. Every pose, every thwip, every action that is cleverly emphasized with drawn lines, and basically everything in the movie is strengthened because it’s animated.
Cole: Yeah there’ve been good animated Batman movies like Mask of the Phantasm and Under the Red Hood, but at the same time, Batman’s aesthetic works fine in live action. Dark, contrasting, brooding. Spider-Man needs crazy motion and wacky action. And he got it in this.
Tristan: I think the way they tell the story is fitting for Spider-Man too. Doesn’t take itself too seriously, made cheesy and good jokes throughout, and threw in some slight social commentary for all of us to chuckle over. I loved how the characters called out the plot devices, similar keys to beating the bad guys, and the “unbelievable story” that actually is pretty believable all things considered.
Madison: Yes! I was honestly a little worried when I first saw the trailer. We’ve had 6 movies and 3 actors take on the Spider-Man mythos within the last decade. The only way Into the Spider-Verse was going to work was approaching the film with some self-awareness. It was a Spider-Man movie that knew it was a Spider-Man movie. This self-awareness absolutely was the magic of the entire thing for me.
Cole: And that all got a little bit juvenile for my tastes, and they definitely didn’t give the jokes or serious moments enough time to marinate before joking about something else at times. Animation = kids movie and that’s fine. I just want to get in that this isn’t a perfect movie before we go back to gushing over it.
Madison: I think Hayoa Miyazaki has successfully banished the idea that animation = kids movie. But I know most people have issues with Peter Porker, the Spider-Pig-Person. And maybe even Spider-Man Noir. I’ve read the comics’ event that this film is based on, and I’ll say that I didn’t like those characters in the comics. But when I saw them animated, I got it. So we might have to agree to disagree on the juvenile-ness of this film. By leaning into its comic book origins, it brought to life characters that I’d never thought I’d see on screen in a way that I actually enjoyed.
Tristan: Agreed Cole, this isn’t a perfect movie, I’ll definitely agree there, and some antics are too silly. I’d rather have more imperfect and fresh movies come out than perfect mold-fitted movies. I love Sorry to Bother You, and it is far from perfect. I will say this, Sony Pictures Animation have guts to greenlight a sequel and female-led Spidey film before the first one hit general theaters. Shows how much interest they have in continuing a separate animated Spider-Man saga while Marvel-Disney controls the rest of Spidey’s stories.
Madison: Narratively, because this film knows we have seen so many Spider-Man movies, it can focus on the mythos of who Spider-Man is. There are two things at the root of the Spider-Man character that this movie nails: Spider-Man always gets back up again and the character is an everyman and anyone can be behind the mask.
Cole: Because being Spider-Man is about what that every man or woman or freaking pig does with the new powers they get. You know. With great power…….
Madison: The end credits really underline the idea that anyone can be Spider-Man. They’re full of artistic renderings of New York City where everyone has the mask on. And we haven’t addressed yet that Miles Morales is a black/Hispanic teenager that is distinctly not Peter Parker. The year opened with Black Panther and finished with Into the Spider-Verse. These films were definitely in dialogue with each other. There are even some cinematographic similarities between the two.
Tristan: On that note, I felt that was something the film does really well. It doesn’t feel like a Spider-Man film for diversity’s sake only. Instead, Miles is a kid growing up in Brooklyn. Oh yeah, his heritage makes his home life and style different from the other cinematic Spider-Man portrayals. I felt like it was a natural progression that displayed his race and family story like any other hero’s backstory. Miles was bitten by a radioactive spider. Guess what? He’s Spider-Man. I love it.
Cole: Beautiful. That’s the only prerequisite to being Spider-Man. Makes sense that they remind you of that because of the anyone-can-be-a-hero theme.
Madison: Final thoughts?
Tristan: I’m a fan. The post-credits scene had me ready for the sequel. The characters and universe are off to a great start.
Cole: And as a reminder, this is the third movie this year to be in a Spider-Verse of one or another. Now that multiple Spider-Men and Spider-Verses are canon, anything is possible to keep in continuity.
Madison: This film hit pretty good for me. I laughed, I cried, my heart was warmed, and all my nerdiness was satisfied. It was one of the best visual experience I’ve had in a long time, had a great soundtrack, and got me more jazzed to see films with racial minorities in leading roles. I walked out with a big stupid grin on my face and I’m sure everybody else will, too. Plus it served as a great devotional to both Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the creators and greatest champions of Spider-Man in the world, who both passed away earlier this year.
And for all those who’ve seen it…
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