Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.
2018 was a monumental year for comic-book and superhero movies. A decade after the genre went full throttle we finally got the first-ever Afrofuturistic film with Black Panther, Aquaman became the highest-grossing DC comic book movie, and Avengers: Infinity War made movie history by fulling the desire of the ages: being the perfect culmination of 10 years worth of world-building with a story and action sequences the likes of which have never been since the Lord of the Rings finale. And yet, even with such impressive monumental entries, it’s the new animated Spider-Man movie that takes the crown from all of them.
Not only is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse one of the best films of 2018, it is also the best Spider-Man film of the past 15 years since Raimi’s ’04 Spider-Man 2. It tells the origin story of Miles Morales, a young black/latino kid from Brooklyn who suddenly realizes he shares Spider-Man’s powers after some whirlwind events throw in him into the fray. Up until now, superhero origin stories in movies were such a genre cliche no one bothered to innovate with that idea, so it was surprising that this film makes classic themes of familial love and sense of duty feel fresh again.
The storytelling where the movie shines the most. It pauses the action multiple times to ensure that characters have time to reflect on the events that occur and have them grow as people; as a result their decisions feel organic and earned, not contrived for the sake of propelling the plot. Although Miles is the central character, he isn’t the only Spider-Man in the movie; he shares the screen with other incarnations of the character, a female Spider-Man, a noir Spider-Man, and an aged Peter Parker Spidey. The novelty of seeing multiple Spider-Men populating the screen at the same time is something on its own to behold.
It’s tempting to pass off an animated superhero movie as an item that should be straight to DVD. I know, I’ve seen quite a few myself. A lot of the time they’re just thrown out there with not a lot of real care in storytelling and animation, but this is a proper proper movie. It’s simply mesmerizing in so many ways–from Mile’s character arc, his family dynamic, the Spider-Verse world building, the wonderful humor, and the notable way in which it mixes hip-hop culture with superhero culture and blends it all together in a gorgeous potpourri of color and music… and for upending everyone’s expectations that a theatrically-released animated comic book film, something we haven’t seen in decades, could be so good as to earn an Academy Award nomination for “Best Animated Film.” I put it alongside Logan and The Dark Knight in the pantheon of all time great comic book movies. Near perfect. Grade A.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is playing now at the AMC Southcenter 16, the AMC Kent Station 16, the Century Federal Way, and Regal Landing Stadium 14.