When rumors started swirling about an animated Spiderman movie that would introduce Miles Morales to mainstream audiences for the first time ever, many dismissed the out of nowhere Spiderman film and deemed it a failure even before the review embargo lifted. Starring Shameik Moore (Dope, Cut Throat City), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, The Edge of Seventeen), Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Moonlight), the animated feature follows the Brooklyn teen Miles Morales who becomes the masked crusader after he’s bitten by a radioactive spider on the subway. The teen ends up meeting Peter Parker (played by Jake Johnson) and the heroes from the different dimensions battle an evil Kingpin.
To the surprise of most fans and critics, Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse turned out to be a fantastic film, garnering a strong 97% rotten tomatoes score, making it the highest-rated spidey film to date (Yep, even surpassing Spiderman 2). Financially, the 2018 film had moderate success at the box office, amassing only $375.5 million worldwide. Still, it managed to win an Academy and Golden Globe award for best-animated feature. A sequel is scheduled to be released in 2022. With all the high accolades that this film has received, does this mean that Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse is the best spidey flick at the moment? Even better than the previous champ, Spiderman 2? Honestly, no. Let me explain why.
First, Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse is a terrific film. It’s definitely deserving of the high praise and awards that it’s received thus far. ‘ll admit, I was one of the skeptics who didn’t believe that this film could be so good. Everything within the movie blends perfectly together. The introduction of every Spiderman from different dimensions feels organic. The film never feels overwhelming with the different personalities in the same room. Miles Morales could’ve easily gotten lost in the shuffle here, but the story remains focused on him from beginning to end.
The animation is simply breathtaking. The colors pop with style and the designs are gorgeous to look at. Watching Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse, it’s a wonder how this is the first time an animated Spiderman film has made its way into theaters. Luckily, the storytelling is on par with the crisp animation and top-notch voice cast, as the writers did an excellent job of introducing Miles Morales. His persona doesn’t feel like a carbon copy of the previous versions of Spiderman and his character is able to stand out despite being crowded around other versions of the popular hero.
What Spider-Verse does better than its live-action counterpart is Morales’ origin story. The original Spiderman and The Amazing Spiderman pretty much repeat the same beats. Sure, Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider like his counterparts; however, the worldview of the young teenager feels fresh and identical to only him. More importantly, Morales’ journey throughout the film feels timely and highly relatable. So you’re likely wondering, “okay, what are the issues that prevent this film from being the best”?
Had Spiderman 2 not existed then Into The Spider-Verse would’ve easily gotten the nod for best film. The thing about Spiderman 2 that makes it better is how emotionally rich the story is. Don’t get me wrong, Into The Spider-Verse has an emotional story at its core, namely the arc with his tough dad; however, the inner and out conflicts that both Peter Parker and Doc Ock had in the Sami Raimi sequel really elevated it past superhero flick.
As fun as Kingpin is in Into The Spider-Verse, he wasn’t given the layers that make him stand out from your typical superhero movie bad guy. Had Kingpin being given more depth to his character than the discussion of Into The Spiderverse being better than Spiderman 2 wouldn’t feel as one-sided as it does now. Perhaps it’s nostalgia? Or a bias opinion on my love for the original Spiderman films (minus Spiderman 3)? I won’t deny that definitely factors into my opinion. If you strongly believe that Into The Spider-Verse is the better film, then I wouldn’t argue with you.
All-in-all, Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse is a tremendous film deserving of all the accolades it received. But better than Spiderman 2? I simply can’t agree with rotten tomatoes on this one. I know that I’m somewhat comparing apples and oranges here, but it’s a valid discussion to have since both are in the same cinematic universe. Who knows, maybe the sequel will top its predecessor and Spiderman 2’s claim at being the best will finally be dethroned.