First Animated Spider-Man Film Swings into Theaters


Photo Courtesy of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” Official Website

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” reigns supreme as the largest December animated opening so far at $35.4 million in the box office on opening weekend.

Aaron Sha and Ki Joon Lee

A Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Feature Film, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” hit theaters Dec. 14  amid high expectations from fans of Brooklyn’s masked superhero.

Following a typical coming-of-age plotline, viewers watch protagonist Miles Morales discover his powers and become the new Spider-Man with the help of his equivalents from alternate universes, from a middle-aged Peter Parker to the comical Spider-Ham. Along with other unique variations of Spider-Man, Morales sets out to put an end to crime boss Kingpin’s schemes and send his new friends back to their universes.

The animation style has a fresh appeal by borrowing elements straight out of a comic book, such as text boxes and visual sound effects. Beyond just comic book fans, though, any viewer can easily relate to the protagonist’s struggles to meet expectations both from his life at an esteemed boarding school and his new responsibility as the Spider-Man of his universe.

The animation reaches its full potential by portraying different characters in different styles, visually presenting the concept of a “multiverse,” a critical element of the Marvel franchise. For example, character Spider-Noir is animated only with black and white and a shallower visual depth, distinguishing him from the vibrant, three-dimensional universe to which he is transported.

The expert use of vivid colors illuminates the ever-changing frames of the film, providing a stark contrast between the abstract “multiverse” and the aesthetic New York cityscape. Combining the two primary color palettes of the film not only highlights the talent of the animators but also crafts some of the most visually impactful scenes in the history of animation.

Accompanying the breathtaking visuals is the equally impressive soundtrack, perfectly matching the light-hearted and uplifting tone of the movie with the voices of artists Post Malone, Swae Lee and others.

For an animated film of its length, nearly a whole two hours, the film supplies viewers with a considerable amount of action sequences, effectively utilizing animation to its advantage to arrange continuous shots from camera angles almost impossible to achieve in real life videography.

However, the plot suffered from the overwhelming multitude of characters, each of their background stories causing the movie to be somewhat less cohesive. Morales, a likable and interesting character on his own, could have benefitted from a more straightforward plot and focus.

Nevertheless, the film is a must-see for both the die-hard Marvel fans and the newcomers simply seeking an enjoyable weekend experience.