After trials and many, MANY errors, Sony Entertainment finally made their ownership of the Spiderman license worth it. Into the Spiderverse isn’t just a good movie, its a genre re-defining movie. This is a work of rare art and is a masterwork on almost every front. Character, dialogue, plot, sound, music and ESPECIALLY animation. You could watch the end credits on mute and still have a great time. There is nothing, literally nothing, Hollywood has released in the past five years that comes even close to the visual spectacle that is this film.
A simple example to showcase what I’m talking about is shown in the trailers. When Peter B. Parker, Miles Morales and Gwen Stacey are joined by Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir and Spider Ham you’ll notice that the final three cast members are all drawn differently: Peni Parker is basically drawn in Japanese animation style, Spider Ham is a cartoon often appearing 2 dimensional and Spiderman Noir is always black and white, followed by a wind that “smells like rain.” This choice persists throughout the film from the point of these character introductions. Consider just what kind of work that takes. Not only are you already working to adapt a particular art style to character movement, speech, emotional range and action sequences, you then have to do that three more times AND bring it all together for shared moments across the spectrum. That is insanity and the fact that they made it work is legendary.
Watching this film was, for me, like the first time I saw a Ghibli film. I love animated features from all over the world but to me, Studio Ghibli’s ability to make worlds come alive through smooth and full movements of characters and environments always far surpassed almost any other film with regards to being an animated visual treat. This had a massive and lasting impact on the fundamentals of animation within Japan on almost every level. Studio Ghibli set the new gold standard of what was possible and without it we would have never seen works like Your Name or Paprika.
For the first time since Toy Story a similar conversation is starting to be had in North America around Into the Spiderverse. Toy Story was a flash point for animated films in North America and without its success,. the empires of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda would have never risen. This movement in animation was so massive in the Western Hemisphere that Disney eventually made the leap into 3d animation. And now we have Into the Spiderverse. A film that takes 3d animation and 2d comic book/panel design and seamlessly blends the two in multiple art styles all at once. That’s mind blowing. It is quality work and unlike anything we’ve seen before in North America. This is the new gold standard and I cannot wait to see what it inspires in the decades to come.