By Nick Maylor

Much like The Lego Batman Movie (2017)Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse  is an animated superhero feature that is packed with laughs and will no doubt be warmly received by the kids. It is also reminiscent of The Lego Batman Movie in that the entire thing serves as an irreverent love-letter to the titular character(s), their history, and various escapades that have made them famous. 

Unlike what is happening with the live-action Spider-Man over at Disney, our web-slinger(s) here are not paling around with the Avengers or other superheroes. Here, we get several different versions of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Persons. 

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a Brooklyn teen; the son of a black father and Puerto Rican mother. Miles starts attending an elite boarding school (something he is none too fond of) at the behest of his cop dad Jefferson (Brian Tyree Hendry). Miles is an admirer of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Chris Pine) and encounters a similar life-changing arachnid encounter. Miles uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali) encourages Miles enthusiasm for graffitti (something Jefferson disapproves of as a police officer). 

One night while painting a mural in an abandoned subway station with Aaron, Miles gets bitten by (you guessed it) a radioactive/genetically modified/magic spider. 

Miles slowly discovers his new Spidey abilities and has an encounter with Norman Osborne/The Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone) who is battling Spider-Man at the behest of Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). Kingpin is trying to tap into other dimensions in order to bring back his deceased wife and child who died after fleeing the sight of Fisk fighting Spider-Man. Fisk naturally blames old Spidey for his misfortune. 

Kingpin has a huge interdimensional raygun built by Olivia Octavius (Kathryn Hahn) which opens portals, sending various otherworld Spider people into Miles’ reality


Kingpin successfully kills Peter Parker as Miles looks on. 

Miles soon encounters Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), an older, disillusioned alternate-dimension Spider-Man; and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), an alternate-world Spider-Woman. Each of the alternate-universe Spider-Persons suffer from “glitching” in Miles’ reality and need to get home to survive before their bodies deteriorate.

Spider-Man (Chris Pine) gave Miles a hard drive that can stop Kingpin’s machine but Miles broke it. 

May sees the older Peter and immediately recognizes that he is an alternate version of her nephew. May then takes the team to her backyard shed which has an industrial elevator lowering down to Spider-Man’s Batcave. Aunt May sits down at Spider-Man’s Batcomputer and proceeds to introduce the team to several other dimension-hopping Spider-Characters. Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), a black-and-white detective Spider-Man from the 1930s, Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), a Japanese anime Spider-Biomechanical-Suit wearing person, and Peter Porker (John Mulaney) a cartoon Spider-Pig. 

The film includes references, homages, stories and characters from Spider-Man’s entire history in every medium. It’s a glowing love letter to what makes Spider-Man so compelling; personal tragedy, coming-of-age, great ability, great accountability and the like. Each world’s version of the hero get explored well enough individually that when they come together as a team, it’s more satisfying for it. 

The film is funny, with plenty of fan service but in a good way. It’s a refreshing contrast to the last few Sony-produced Spider-world films. Here Spidey shows that his appeal and is rich enough to serve him up as a massive ensemble of characters that all embrace the folklore’s core themes and values. 

Massive meta-jokes and solid action with some stunning animation. Well done, Sony. 

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