BY STEPHEN LEWANDOWSKI
When I first saw the trailers come out for this movie, I was really worried. I thought, “Oh great, there is going to be another Spider-Man movie developed by Sony.” I grew up on the Toby Maguire Spider-Man films and they will always hold a special place in my heart (I plan on analyzing at least one of these films in future articles). To be honest, I was pretty fatigued keeping up with all the superhero movies that have been released in the last decade. I was hesitant to even go watch it, but it was Spider-Man, so I had to.
HOLY COW AM I GLAD I SAW THIS MOVIE! It has everything there is to love about superhero movies and offers an original story with characters we have and have not seen in other Spider-Man media. I am a person that greatly appreciates art and especially film. I recommend that every person see this movie at least once for the sake of the animation team that worked so hard on this movie. The art team had to draw each individual frame for the entire one hour and fifty-six minute run-time. In other words, each second of the film took the team on average two weeks to complete. Nick Kondo was an animator for the film and said that one scene involving all the spider people took TWO MONTHS to get right.
Along with the great animation the film offers an incredible original soundtrack. Artists such as Post Malone, Swae Lee, the late Juice WRLD, and many other great artists offer music that fits great into the story and culture of the film. Aside from the production team, the voice actors give great performances and fully immerse you into the Spider-Verse.
The story of the film is what ties all of this together. Miles Morales is one of the first African American/Latino superheroes to appear in a large-scale film. The representation of the culture is so well-displayed and easy to appreciate. Aside from the Black Panther movie (which was released just a few months prior to this film), there has not been really any successful depictions of African Americans in this genre of film.
As previously stated, Miles Morales is the protagonist of the film. The film is set in an alternate universe than our own. The film displays these differences with subtle differences in main-stream personalities, as well as the different looks of the villains. This movie is an origin story for Miles and shows his journey of facing his own fears and taking on the responsibility of being Spider-Man. The main antagonist of the film would be Wilson Fisk (AKA The Kingpin). Kingpin’s goal is to get back his wife and son by using a device that allows interdimensional travel known in the film as the “Super Collider.” His wife and son died in a car accident in his universe, so he attempts to get them back from an alternate dimension where they are still alive. This, however, causes problems for the people of this universe because other dimensions begin to collapse into the main universe in which the film is set (this would lead to their universe being destroyed). The original Peter Parker/Spider-Man is killed shortly after Miles gets his spider-powers. Miles is lost and doesn’t feel like he can fit into Spider-Man’s shoes, but since Kingpin used the “Super Collider,” he unknowingly caused five different Spider-Men to get trapped into his universe.
The first Spider-Man Miles meets is an older and beaten down Peter Parker from what most assume is our reality. He is divorced from his lover Mary Jane and is tired of his Spider-Man duties. This Peter Parker is much more practical and lazier than Miles’ original Spider-Man, and does not want to mentor Miles on how to be Spider-Man. He obviously dislikes children at the beginning of the film and sees Miles as more of a burden than a student. The dynamic between Peter and Miles is part of what makes the film so great. Peter eventually takes on Miles as his mentee and shows him the ropes of being Spider-Man. Peter’s style of teaching is very much sink-or-swim. He often will toss Miles in the deep end, and hope he’ll swim out. They work together so that they can get all the Spider people back to their original dimensions.
The pacing of the film is great as well, as there is never a moment where you want to know when something cool will happen next. The slow-paced scenes offer great character development and charming character interactions. These are highlighted with scenes between Miles and his Uncle Aaron, Miles and his father, and Miles and Peter. It is easy to see that Miles’ father and Aaron are brothers because of their similar yet contrasting philosophies. This movie doesn’t tell you that the bonds are strong between certain characters. It shows how strong the bonds are between certain characters, none of the character interactions feel forced. They feel cohesive and natural which deserves to give credit to the writers and voice actors of the film for doing such a good job.
The main symbol in this film would be the Spider-Man suit. It stands for so much and helps to highlight the peak of Miles’ character development. For about ninety percent of the film Miles can barely seem to do anything right and is stuck in the shadows of the Spider-Man that died. This is characterized by Miles wearing a Spider-Man costume that he bought from a comic store for a majority of the film. It shows that he is not his own Spider-Man yet. He’s merely trying to be the Spider-Man that came before him. Before the climax of the film the Spider people decide that Miles is not ready to take on Kingpin and force him to stay behind. Miles wants to know when he’ll be ready, and Peter gives his best piece of advice. Peter says, “You won’t, it’s a leap of faith. That’s all it is Miles, a leap of faith”. After the Spider people go to save the world, Miles is stuck in his room webbed to a chair. Miles frees himself and goes to take his own leap of faith. He makes his own Spider-Man suit and goes to the top of a skyscraper. He’s sticking to the side of the building as he prepares to jump. As he jumps, his hands are still sticking to the glass and it breaks. It shows that he is still scared. Even though he is scared he still takes the leap of faith. He dives in headfirst to face his fears, and triumphantly swings through the streets of New York. This is perhaps the most important scene in the film. It shows that Miles is no longer just a kid from Brooklyn. It shows that he is Spider-Man. The whole film builds up for this one moment and provides a very important life lesson. If we never take a chance on something that can make us better, we will stay in the same place and never grow as individuals. Even when we are scared, we should face our problems head-on and take a leap of faith.