A fistful of Spideys make for an animated masterpiece with heart.
Into the Spider-Verse isn't the kind of female-led film I normally feature here. It's not about "girl power"; it has no overtly feminist messages; but I still wanted to talk about it. First, because it's an awesome movie in its own right. Also because I wish more movies handled their female characters the way Spider-Verse does.
Style and Substance
The visual style of Spider-Verse is a sight to behold. Animation experts could go about stuff like frame rates and the seamless blend of 2D and 3D animation styles, and how it "changed animation", but you can read all that from them. All I can say is the final product looks amazing. Beyond the visuals—the story, the fight scenes, and the music were also top-notch.
It had just the right blend of drama and humor. Never veering into slapstick, its visual gags and quips were often hilarious. A police officer radioing in Miles' antics is one of the funniest movie quotes I've heard in awhile: "Uh... looks like a child dressed like Spider-Man dragging a homeless corpse behind a train." You had to be there.
A Hero with Heart
While Peter Parker will always be Spider-Man to me, Miles Morales is an awesome successor. (If that's even the right word given the dizzying array of reboots, parallel universes, and Sony vs MCU shenanigans besetting poor Spidey.)
Despite the similarities—high school student; radioactive spider; uncle issues; etc.—Miles is his own person. It would have been easy for the writers to just give him a new name and make him Black Peter2.0, but thankfully they gave him his own distinctive personality and style. He's smart, funny, and likeable. His struggles with confidence as he learns to understand and control his powers are very relatable.
And he's got the best suit.
A Fistful of Spideys
The cross-dimension hijinks (it's complicated) central to the storyline result in Miles sharing his adventure with several other iterations of Spider-Man... Spider-People?...Spider-Humanoids? Let's just go with "Spideys". Some are just there for quips and the occasional Hero Moment, but Older Peter and Spider-Gwen complement Miles to form the emotional core of the film.
I really like the way that Spider-Verse handled Gwen. Though introduced as a potential crush, they didn't relegate her to being only that. She was a hero in her own right. At the same time, they didn't make a big deal about her being a girl. She just came in and kicked butt without fanfare. The movie made it clear that she was Miles' equal, both in the suit (with comparable powers) and out of it (both attending an elite academic academy).
It just goes to show that you can have powerful girl characters without beating the audience over the head with things like the Endgame Girl Power scene. I wish more movies did that.
- Princess Power:
- Bechdel Test: Fail
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