A Brief History
On December 9,2018, we take a minute to tell you about the latest blockbuster film based off of a Marvel Comics property, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this time an animated feature film, although probably the best animation you have ever seen! Sadly, the film contains possibly the last cameo by the late Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and other characters, and in this case an animated cameo. (Reportedly, Lee will also appear in cameos in 2019’s Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, but as these films have not yet been released, we cannot confirm that his scenes will indeed be in the final theatrical cuts of the films.) The Spider-Man film opens across the nation on December 14, 2018. (As always, we avoid spoilers, so read on without worry.)
As the name implies, the plot concerns a “Spider-Verse,” a multi-dimensional reality in which variations of Spider-Man exist. Do not be afraid of the fact the movie is animated, the CGI involved is reported to have taken about 4 times longer than normal CGI assisted animation. In the spirit of the animated platform, the film has numerous comic book references, allusions, and sometimes voice/sound balloons with appropriate sounds spelled out (for the hard of hearing audience members?). The movie also intersperses humor of various types with serious issues such as people dying. The directorial team of Bob Persichetti, Pete Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman do not have an extensive resume in directing Hollywood movies (their experience is mostly with television and producing), but we are confident the success that will stem from this film will earn them other jobs directing movies.
The cast is animated, of course, so the acting is strictly voice-acting, and the casting for the voices is superb. The main character, Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) manages to totally avoid the annoying little kid sounds we have become accustomed to and hate so much. Moore blends just the right level of convincing tween dialog and voice without the overly precociousness of some cocky movie kid characters (think Terminator 2). Moore plays the heir apparent to Spider-Man in our universe. Other voices include Hailee Steinfeld as the voice of “Spider-Gwen,” a Spider-Woman from another dimension. The adorable animated character played by Steinfeld is perfectly matched to her beautiful voice. A few major league movie stars also lend their voices to characters, including Nicholas Cage (Spider-Noir), Chris Pine (as the Spider-Man of our dimension/universe), Lily Tomlin (as Spider-Man’s aunt), and Live Schreiber (as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin). Oddly enough, the role of Miles’s father is named Jefferson Davis and is played by Brian Tyree Henry.
The soundtrack is likewise excellent, and the film cost a colossal $90 million to produce, an indication of just how serious the filmmakers were about creating a quality product. Various related promotions from sources such as a McDonald’s tie-in promotion and an Ad Council anti-bullying campaign using the characters from the movie provide an enormous boost to the hype of the film that should translate into increased box office sales. Another Sony produced film and a major hit movie in its own right, Venom, featured an extended post credit scene about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The test audience was wildly enthusiastic about the film, with seemingly universal approval. The idea of multiple Spider-Mans in various dimensions may sound strange, but the idea works well in the movie. So does the creation of an African-American tween as the Spider-Man of the future. The 117 minutes that the film runs goes by rather quickly, always a good sign. The movie review composite site, Rotten Tomatoes, gives the film an incredible 99% on its “Tomatometer.”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a sophisticatedly produced film using high technology and should be seen in 3D if at all possible. Our screening was in 2D and had some parts where background scenes were a little fuzzy, as if we should have had 3D glasses on. Plus, the nature of the film, eye popping action and thrills, lends itself rather decisively toward the 3D presentation. One little teaser we would like to include without spoiling too much of the surprise: “Peter Porker.”
We strongly recommend Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for audiences of all ages, except perhaps the most sensitive of young kids that would be upset by the (not graphic) depiction of death. If you think you have outgrown cartoons, you are wrong!
Questions for students: Have you ever read any Spider-Man comic books? Also, do you plan on seeing this film?
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For more information, please see…
Caitlyn, Mariah. Random Marvel Movie Facts: 352 Fun Facts and Secret Trivia from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Independently published, 2017.
Zahed, Ramin. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse -The Art of the Movie. Titan Books, 2018.
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