Saturday, December 29, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

I’ve always wondered why some superheroes become well known while there are plenty of others that are known only to fans of comic books.  You might say that it has to do with exposure.  Wonder Woman had a TV show featuring Linda Carter in the titular role.  Superman has had all manner of movies in addition to the TV show.  But what is it about these superheroes that makes them more marketable?

Spider-Man is popular enough to have had several incarnations both in the comics and on the big screen.  This is the basic premise of Into the Spiderverse.  We start out with a regular kid named Miles Morales who looks up to his universe’s Spider Man, also known as Peter Parker.  When Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider, he gains powers similar to Peter’s.  Peter would train Miles except that Peter is killed by Wilson “Kingpin“ Fisk.

Not to worry, though.  That thing that Peter was trying to stop Kingpin from using happens to be a device that brings forth five other spider-like creatures:  Peter B. Parker, Peter Porker, Peni Parker, Spider-Man Noir and Gwen Stacy.  It’s up to the six of them to stop Kingpin from destroying reality.

So, you might be wondering what it’s like to watch a movie with seven different versions of Spider-Man.  Movies with that many main characters might seem a bit crowded.  We do get to see several different origin stores, even if each lasts only a minute.  Fortunately, it’s not done enough to get repetitive.

I will say that those who have seen other Spider-Man movies will catch at least one reference to another production, such as Spiderman hanging upside-down to get a kiss.  (I might have to keep checking back on the IMDb page to see if there are any new entries on the connections page.)  It also has a very comic-book feel to it, which I imagine was deliberate.  The animation is a little unusual, seeming almost realistic at times.

While I was watching the movie, I kept thinking that it might serve as a platform for spin-off movies.  What I’ve read about the movie confirms this.  The movie would seem to be sort of a back-door pilot.  There’s a good mix of characters to support the movie and would give the studio a chance to gauge the audience’s reaction to the movie.  I would hope that Miles Morales would get his own movie.  I’d also like to see Peter Porker, a.k.a. Spider-Ham have some sort of post-Spiderverse presence.

The plot wasn‘t as heavy as I would have expected.  There are a few chase scenes, but there wasn’t a strong threat.  It seemed more like it was setting Miles up to become Spiderman while getting a chance to show off a few of the different incarnations that Spider-Man has had.  It’s almost like some sort of meta-origin story.  This is one of those movies that seems more like a pilot to a TV show than a standalone movie.  (Of course, this makes sense given the talks of possible spin-offs.)

Spider-Man is accessible and well-known enough that most people will be able to follow the story.  The movie seems geared more towards a teenaged audience, but is good for parents, as well.  It’s exactly the kind of movie parents and kids could see together.  I’ll be checking back to see what happens with subsequent movies.  It definitely has franchise potential.

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