Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directed By: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Written By: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Produced by: Avi Arad, Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Amy Pascal, and Christina Steinberg.
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, and Kathryn Hahn Rated PG
Into the Spider-Verse is an absolute Marvel (full pun intended.) The film offers a truly fresh take on the increasingly oversaturated superhero genre and offers something for pretty much everyone. Spider-Man is an iconic hero but we have only ever gotten to see the mainstream “Peter Parker” version of him on the big screen. A lot of people might not know that in the years since Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko many heroes have actually donned the mask, and that fact is what the film is centered around. When the Villain Kingpin enlists the help of mad scientist Doc Ock to create a device that can literally rip apart the fabric of space and time, alternate universes are shoved together and instead of one Spider-Man, the world suddenly has six. The films main Spider-Person, Miles Morales has to quickly master his newly acquired spider powers and team up with the other five Spider-People in order to stop Kingpin and his minions from ultimately destroying all of the universes. Each Spider-Person feels completely unique and the diversity of character design and writing allows the film to cover every base from action to comedy to drama in a way that would be impossible for a film with only one hero. This model is something films like those in the Avengers series have thrived on. But Into the Spider-Verse brings an intimacy to the model that hasn’t been seen before. There is an underlying feeling cultivated that truly anyone can be Spider-Man and therefore we are ALL Spiderman. It might sound corny, but this is a sentiment that ends up imprinted on the audience in a very real way by the end of the film. The Tremendous story and fleshed out characters are supported the entire way by amazing visuals (a marriage 2D and 3D effects that combine to create a unique aesthetic that stays very true to the comic’s roots), stellar pacing, and an incredible soundtrack. The film is as close to perfect as I can remember in the genre. A true must see. 10/10
Unfortunately, some of the bonus features just don’t fully measure up to the high bar set by the film.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – A New Dimension
A quick look at the basic concepts and design choices of the film. Nearly every department is represented as writers, directors, producers, artists, and more weigh in on how they set out to create a unique fusion between comic book and film and highlight the techniques they used to achieve this ambitious vision. 9/10
We are Spider-Man
The most obvious thing that separates Into the Spider-verse from previous Spider-Man films is the inclusion of multiple iterations of Spider-Man. Here the cast and crew discuss the importance of diversity from both a storytelling and social perspective. All of the characters manage to feel real and unique and being able to see Spider-Man through so many lenses at once is a transformative experience for the genre. So many superhero movies suffer because they can only show one version of a character that has potentially been written dozens or even hundreds of ways throughout their lifetime. This always seems to leave some portion of the fan base dissatisfied with the portrayal. Into the Spider-Verse really takes advantage of the fact that it has all these different colors on the pallet and uses them to paint a beautiful picture. Diversity was always meant to be a key focus of the project, from deciding which versions of Spider-Man to use, to choosing which actors would bring them to life, and it’s amazing how well they were able to use it as a tool not only continue to advance important social issues, but weave together an immersive story as well.
The Ultimate Comics Cast
A detailed look into the casting process of Into the Spide-Verse. Writers, Directors, and Producers examine each character and explain their thought process for casting each of the roles as well as the chosen actors themselves explaining how they approached each character. The casting in the movie is a triumph and that success makes a lot of sense after hearing everyone describe how organic and fun the approach to it was. 9/10
Designing Cinematic Comic Book Characters: Heroes & Hams
A super deep-dive into the design of each of the films “Spider-Persons.” With directors, producers, and members of the animation team all giving insight into the creative choices that shaped each iteration. From the initial big-picture vision to the smallest finishing details such as, “how big should we make “old Peter Parker’s” gut?” The time and effort and attention to detail are what allow the characters in the film to feel like they are all from their own unique universes but still share a connection and all embody “Spider-Man.” 9/10
Desigining Cinematic Comic Book Villains: Scoundrels and Scorpions
The same formula as the “Heroes & Hams” featurette but focused on the film’s six villains. As the creators walk us through their process, it’s apparent here that the same amount of care was given to crafting the baddies as the heroes. Poorly written or conceptualized villains can essentially derail an otherwise good film. Well done villains, however, can take a good film and raise it to greatness and that’s exactly what we got in Into the Spider-Verse. 9/10
Alternate Universe Mode
If you were hoping for a “deleted scenes” feature then this is the closest you are going to get. “Alternate Universe Mode” is basically an extended cut, with all of the deleted scenes (many in an unfinished black and white storyboard animation state) slotted in where they would have gone had they not been cut. This adds around 16 mins to the movie. Most of the cuts are low impact (many aren’t even full scenes) and only add a bit of context or comedy here and there, but if you are a big fan of the film and want to see it in its full glory then Alternate universe is worth checking out on a second or third viewing. I do wish they would have included a standalone feature with the deleted scenes and some commentary as to why they were cut, but with so many of the cuts being tiny, this approach makes sense. If you wanna check out the additions without re-watching the whole film I included some timestamps below. Disclaimer: while most of the cut scenes were in some state of being unfinished and were easy to spot, there could have been some that were fully animated or close to it that I missed.
Timestamps- 00:00, 13:06, 19:44, 25:00, 45:55, 48:28, 56:45, 1:05:10, 1:16:00, 1:19:40, 1:28:48, 1:49:15, 1:51:47, 1:52:47, 2:06:40, 2:10:25
Here, we get Writers, Directors, and a producer commentating over the entirety of the film. The format is very informal and I honestly don’t love it. There are definitely some cool facts delivered and a lot of insightful moments but without any sort of structure, it just feels messy. This is exacerbated by the fact that the film is playing on a nearly inaudible volume the whole time which makes it difficult to connect the commentary with what is happening onscreen. I would rather have been able to hear and watch a scene and have some commentary injected before or after instead of over the top. If you have already watched the film and the alternate universe mode (the better of the two full-length features in my opinion) then this would make your third viewing and that seems like a big undertaking for all but the most diehard fans. Especially given the clunkiness.
Caught in a Ham Short
A goofy four-minute short featuring Spider-Ham. If you watched the “Alternate Universe Mode” feature then you have already seen this, but having it in its own spot is as well is convenient. It’s a fun watch that has major Looney Tunes era vibes. Peter Porker was a surprisingly strong addition to the Spider-Verse, largely due to the tremendous voice acting of John Mulaney, and he deserved this bit of extra time to shine. 8/10
The Spider-Verse Super Fan Easter Egg Challenge
The easter egg feature is the crown jewel of the bonus feature hierarchy, especially in a comic book movie and that’s why this feature being lackluster is so disappointing. There are some cool references to the comics and overall Spider-Man lore scattered around that some really hardcore fans might be able to pick up on. And there are some super very obvious moments like the requisite Stan Lee cameo. But there are way too many underwhelming easter eggs, many of which are just inside jokes for the studio itself that don’t offer much for fans. For example, I wasn’t super jazzed to find out that a pug design on a T-shirt was based on one of the character creator’s real-life dogs. There is one really cool easter egg from one of the studios other films, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs that stands out but I Just wish there would have been more eggs along this same line for hawk-eyed cinema fans to uncover. 5/10
Another, Another Times Square
A look at the times square of Miles Morales’ New York and how it differs from our own. A lot of care was given to create clever variations of familiar things. For example, one billboard advertises the “New York Red Socks” baseball team while another suggests you drink “Koca-Soda” in familiar white and red marketing. I enjoyed the content of the feature and thought it struck a nice balance between the deeply buried and the obvious finds, an approach I would have been with the films easter eggs would have emulated. 8/10
A Tribute to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
A heartwarming and informative look at the origins of Spider-Man and the contributions of creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The nuts and bolts of the writing and art are covered but more importantly, the underlying themes and motivations of the original Spider-Man comics are explored. With the creator’s commitment to always producing a positive and inclusive experience taking center stage. Stan and Steve are given all the deserved credit and you really see how successfully Into The Spider-Verse carries on their vision for the series. RIP Stan and Steve. Your works will continue to inspire the best in us. Excelsior! 10/10
Meanwhile, In a Gassy Universe
I refuse to spoil anything about this minute and a half of comedy gold. Watch it, and if you don’t enjoy it, go to a fair, ride a roller coaster, get some cotton candy, and try and find your inner child again. 10/10
“Familia” by Nicki Minaj, Anuel AA, and Bantu Lyric Video
A straightforward lyric video for the song, done in an opening-credits style. Like the song and wanna know the words? Done.
“Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee Lyric Video
This lyric video is much more impressive than the first one, as we get the music set over actual scenes from the film and the lyrics appearing in comic book style art bubbles. Like the song? Check it.
An All-Star Cast
A one-minute quick-hitter introducing the films Spider-Persons. Feels more like a TV promo for someone who hasn’t seen the film than anything else. If you want to get a super baseline idea of the characters before diving in then here you go.