Tired of superhero origin stories? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is here to fix that. The film’s nominal hero is Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who’s bitten one day by a radioactive spider and, well, you know the rest. Or at least you think you do. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, this latest cinematic incarnation of your friendly neighborhood superhero is more than aware of the comic property’s oft-rebooted status. Indeed, the script, from Rothman and The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord, takes that precise extra-text as its driving motivation, so it populates the film with alternate versions of the superhero brought from across parallel universes into “ours” by a space-time-continuum-ripping whatsit. Got all that?
The latest Spider-Man is pretty weightless, but as any version of this superhero would attest—weightlessness can be plenty fun.
Truth is, none of that matters much, since Spider-Verse isn’t too invested in character or plot. Despite the story’s anarchic, multi-verse machinations, it still serves up the usual beats of superhero self-actualization. The relentless meta-humor does liven up the 116-minute runtime, but Spider-Verse’s main (and very worthwhile) attraction is its all-out comic-book visual style, which is the most exhilarating/exhausting blast of pop energy since Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. (A more cynical viewer could decry this, not without basis, as pandering, tokenistic mass art.) Unlike Wright’s film, though, Spider-Verse doesn’t have much emotional heft to it. The story plunges so swiftly into its meta-story that there’s no time to really be invested in anything other than roiling, psychedelic graphics. (Arguably the most moving moment comes early on, when the original Peter Parker of “our” universe dies, and his loss is mourned throughout the city.) The latest Spider-Man is otherwise pretty weightless, but as any version of this superhero would attest—weightlessness can be plenty fun.