2018 was a monumental year for comic book movies. Black Panther was a significant step forward in representation, the Marvel Cinematic Universe reached a zenith with the unmissable Avengers: Infinity War, and the DC Extended Universe had its first (and to date, only) film pass the $1billion mark with Aquaman. But ask filmgoers what the best comic book movie released in 2018 was and most would offer a different answer…
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swung into theaters in December of 2018 and immediately captivated audiences with its revolutionary take on the beloved superhero genre and breathtaking animation style. Directed by the talented trio of Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, and Bob Persichetti, this animated masterpiece defied conventions and soared to unprecedented heights.
The film successfully introduces the concept of the multiverse and seamlessly weaves together the stories of various Spider-People from different dimensions. At its core, the film follows the journey of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teenager grappling with newfound powers in the wake of the death of his universe’s Spider-Man. His world is spun even more out of control as he meets alternate universe heroes that make him question if he is ready for his new responsibilities.
Accolades poured in for the film, with the crowning achievement being the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. This recognition affirmed not only the technical brilliance of the animation but also the emotional depth and storytelling prowess that elevated Into the Spider-Verse beyond the status of a mere superhero film.
As first time viewers delve into the intricate web of dimensions and the extraordinary journey of Miles, it becomes clear that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is more than a cinematic experience – it’s a groundbreaking achievement that redefined expectations for animated storytelling in the West and left an indelible mark on the superhero genre.
In this Movie List from The Film Magazine, we are highlighting the 10 best moments from the film that define why Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse continues to enthral audiences, and we will explore its legacy as one of the best comic book movies of all time.
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10. Welcome to the Spider-Verse
This is how you start a movie.
The rising intensity of the opening music. The glitching of the studio logos. The flashes of graffiti. Then blam: the intro fully kicks in and we are treated to the visual feast that is this movie. An explosion of colours and funky graphics inform us that Into the Spider-Verse is unlike any other comic book movie in that it is unashamed of its genre.
Following this is the opening monologue from Peter Parker (don’t get too attached), beginning the recurring “Alright, let’s do this one last time” gag. Peter, voiced by Chris Pine, gives a brief rundown of things most audiences will already know, narrating his life and the responsibilities that come with being Spider-Man. Yes, we’re technically seeing another screen Spider-Man origin story, but the writers make this one concise and fresh. This self-awareness lends itself nicely to some humorous moments, such as detailing the smaller Spider-Man duties, like having his own cereal or recording a Christmas album.
Furthermore, there are plenty of references to Spider-Man in pop culture for fans to feast on. Did anyone expect them to reference the abominable Spider-Man popsicle? The animators even draw comparison to other Spidey iterations on screen, like the upside down kiss, the train scene in Spider-Man 2, and the legendary dance scene from Spider-Man 3.
It is the film’s thesis statement: funny, fast-paced and visually spectacular. The perfect introduction to one of the most unique comic book movies. Simultaneously, these opening 2 minutes are a celebration of all things Spider-Man, and a reminder why the iconic hero has endured for so long on page, on screen, and in wider popular culture.
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9. Meet Miles
A film is arguably only as good as its characters, and a film filled with fantastical Spider-people could have a hard time making its protagonist stand out. Within seconds of meeting Miles Morales, its clear audiences have a beloved hero to root for.
The first time we see Miles, he is caught up in his passions: artwork and music. His singing is gradually drowned out by his parents calling his name. He is pulled out of his daydream and into an all too relatable scenario – a teenager late for school.
This quickly transitions to a high-energy montage showcasing Miles’ daily life, complete with the vibrant backdrop of Brooklyn. We are immersed in the sights and sounds of Miles’ world as they see a new side to him. As he walks through his neighbourhood, he is cool and approachable. His effortless charm makes him instantly likable. The dynamic animation, coupled with a hip-hop soundtrack, creates a sense of kinetic energy that mirrors the pulse of Miles’ urban environment. As Miles parades through the streets, leaving stickers of his artwork, he trips and is caught by his dad, a police officer. We are reminded that, despite his coolness, he’s still an awkward kid. These relatable struggles form the necessary strong connections between Miles and each of us.
These first moments with Miles do more for the film’s central character than a lot of comic book movies manage to do in their entire runtime. Miles’ humour and occasional awkwardness make him endearing. He embodies the youthful enthusiasm and idealism associated with adolescence, making him a perfect vessel for audiences diving into this larger than life story.