Hands down, my favorite superhero is Spider-Man. I vividly remember the weekend back in 2012 when my friend gave me a crash course into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that resulted in us marathoning the animated Spider-Man series. Peter Parker’s wise-cracking nerdy image was extremely relatable to 11-year-old awkward me. However, there was always a slight feeling of internalized disappointment that the hero I related to the most wasn’t one that looked like me.
Enter Miles Morales, the Afro-Latino teenager, the protagonist and arguably, the heart of “Into the Spider-Verse.”
From the moment this movie was announced, there was already pressure on it. The fact that the movie centers around a black teenager was major. It had the job of introducing a new audience to a character that wasn’t too known outside of comic book lore, while also appealing to the diehard fans who have been part of the journey from the beginning. Seeing the first teaser trailer that came out, everything just seemed too good to be true. I kept waiting for the “gotcha”’ moment but the more I saw, the more hopeful I became.
The animation in this film is visually stunning and I found myself captivated, trying to taking every single detail. The way the film combines so many different animation styles sets it apart from practically any other film this year. Through the use of the narration speech bubbles and the thick lines that outline the characters, it feels like a comic book jumped to life. Especially, the amount of detail put into this movie, from iconic panels from the comics itself to even small blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter eggs.
For a movie that centers around so many characters, the way that they are introduced into the plot never feels forced or unnecessary. Everyone adds something to the plot that enhances the overall story. One of my biggest worries was that with so many characters to manage, there wouldn’t big emphasis on Miles character. I went in wary that he was going to be sidelined but luckily that never became the case at all.
This is a movie about Miles. We see how he interacts with the world and the way he feels uncertain in his new school environment. The way he finds comfort in his artwork and how he loves music. The way that his culture is expressed in the film without making it a big deal is amazing. Such as smaller moments like him interacting with his neighbors having multilingual conversations and details like the Chance the Rapper posters on his wall or J’s that he wears.
Positive representation like this in mainstream media is so important moving forward for youth of color because it emphases that our stories are important. Unlike stories like “The Hate U Give” or “Black Panther,” this movie is targeting a younger, family-friendly audience. Arguably the thing that sets this movie apart from those films is how fun it feels. Yes, there are moments that tug at your heartstrings. But the amount of #BlackBoyJoy that just radiates from Miles’ outlook on life is so contagious that you’ll find yourself smiling so hard that it physically hurts you.
This movie is a love letter to the entire history of Spider-Man. The way it honors the source material while not being afraid to change up the norm makes for a compelling story that will have you craving more the minute it ends. It’s a love letter to the fans who have been on this journey for years and it’s a welcoming to everyone who’s just jumping aboard now. It’s a love letter to 11-year-old me who wanted nothing more than to be just as cool as Spider-Man. It’s the perfect amount of adventure and joy that will leave you wanting to stay in the “Spider-Verse” forever.
Lyric Eschoe, 17, is homeschooled and would pay Sony an extreme amount of money if they made a Spidey-themed Christmas album.