Sunday, January 13, 2019

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and starts adjusting to his new powers. Soon enough, he witnesses a confrontation between Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) and Spider-Man. After foiling his plan to fuse parallel universes using a super collider in order to bring his wife and son back from the dead, the Kingpin corners Peter Parker (Chris Pine) and deals him a lethal blow. The young hero’s death is met with trepidation by the people of New York, but they are not quite prepared for what is to come, as a system glitch in the collider causes a ripple spanning different realities. It doesn’t take long before different iterations of Spider-Man are yanked from their respective dimensions into Morales’ own, namely: Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson); Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld); Spider-Ham (John Mulaney); Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage); and SP//dr (Kimiko Glenn). Unprepared for the inter-dimensional dilemma facing them, Miles must step up to save not just his world, but every other parallel one as well.

Sony seems to be faring better than Fox as far as managing their mutants is concerned. Lending Spider-Man to the MCU, they must now find a way to maximize the remaining properties that they still own. We’ve seen three different Peter Parkers since 2003, adding another high-profile one would further dilute the character’s waning impact. So why present just one when you can introduce another half a dozen? From other dimensions! Whoever came up with the idea deserves a pay raise.

It wouldn’t have worked had they opted for another live action popcorn flick. Shifting to animation characterized by a good mix of different drawing styles definitely added to the charm of this particular Spider-Man narrative. It would have been fun to see Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland in the mix, but perhaps the decision to keep considerable distance from those iterations of the character is the best option for the movie to be able to craft its own unique identity. And it does so with style!

Miles Morales headlining the movie is also a wise decision. Peter Parker doesn’t have a monopoly of this hero’s mythology anymore so why not introduce a new one, right? At least we don’t get to see Uncle Ben die for the umpteenth time. As a younger teenager, Morales’ Spider-Man echoes that of Holland, and by teaming up with different versions of Spider-Man from parallel universes, the writers get to play around with team dynamics without having to deal with complicated corporate issues as to who owns whom.

The premise is unique in that there is more leeway for creative license. The greatest achievement of Sony’s team of animators is to come up with a product that can reconcile the differences among the various Spider-Man versions involved not just in terms of visual style, but also in terms of overall feel. For example, SP//dr is very anime while Spider-Man Noir, as the name suggests, is very dark. Maybe that’s also what effectively fuels your curiosity throughout the movie, convoluted storyline aside.

The question now is whether Miles Morales’ story will progress from here. Sony can actually use the character for their Sinister Six project should they need a live action Spider-Man to connect the dots, instead of borrowing Holland from the MCU or introducing yet another Peter Parker. They have already established that there are different Spider-Men in the wider Sony Spider-Verse anyway. The idea won’t be that far-fetched if ever. The decision is up to them but for now, this has got to be their best Spider-Man narrative yet since Maguire donned the costume in the early 2000’s.

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