Miles Morales was introduced to the Marvel universe in 2011, established in the alternate label the “Ultimate” universe. When that universe’s Peter Parker died, Miles stepped up to become Spider-Man. Since then Morales has become one of the banner Spider-Man iterations that have taken on the mantle of the hero. Morales wasn’t just welcomed in to the primary Marvel universe, but he’s managed to become just as popular as Peter Parker and the original Spider-Man. Some fans will even argue he’s better than Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. It’s general sentiment that’s been accepted by many because Spider-Man is not a person, it’s a movement. It’s a movement where literally anyone can wear the mask and strive for the same goals Peter Parker did.
Miles Morales is a grade A student and budding artist who attends a premiere prep school in the inner city. Dealing with parental pressures from a hard working mother and police officer dad, he unwinds with his uncle Aaron, the only person who seems to understand him. When he’s bitten by a radioactive spider, he begins to gain new abilities including the power to crawl walls, emit electricity and become invisible, among many other newfound developments. When Spider-Man is murdered by the Kingpin, Miles dresses up as Spider-Man and begins prowling the streets fighting crime. But when an alternate universe version of Spider-Man lands in Miles’ world, Miles realizes he has a lot to learn about being a superhero, all the while this version of Peter regains his love of fighting evil. They have to contend though with a new Doctor Octopus, who is working with Kingpin to obtain a powerful inter-dimensional device.
Packed with a wonderful cast in the likes of Liev Schreiber, Mahersala Ali, Zoe Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage and Kathryn Hahn respectively, “In to the Spider Verse” isn’t just an introduction in to the massive Spider-Man multi verse that has been established over the last four decades. It also firmly lays the foundation for Miles Morales as one of the most appealing Spider-Man iterations to date. Miles (played brilliantly by Shameik Moore) with his humility, wide eyed awe, and relatable self doubt is an engaging hero who manages to evolve over the course of the entire film. Phil Lord and Chris Miller inject so much heart and depth in to the journey of Miles Morales, as he approaches the mantle of Spider-Man with immense enthusiasm, and eventually comes to take it as a serious job that is required in his universe. The writers prevent all sense of repetition by making Miles’ journey to heroism different from Peter’s but also connecting the common threads.
There’s your out of place young man, parental pressures, and the inevitable tragedy that cements him as Spider-Man once and for all. The animation is dynamic and often beautiful, contributing to the aesthetic that makes this a Spider-Man movie in its own league. Lord and Miller create a love letter to the character and his often eccentric mythology while also building up Miles Morales as a protagonist you want to root for, and love watching excel as a masked avenger. His mission to fight crime and obtain some sense of honor in his noble family is touching, as well as the way he relates to the role models around him. Everyone is expecting something from him, and his realization that he can only please himself is something that takes a lot of bumps and scrapes to reach.
The concept of Spider-Man being more of an idea than a single hero is well established as Miles meets alternate versions of Spider-Man including an Peni Parker, an Asian girl with a Spider-Robot, Spider-Man Noir a gritty black and white copy, the original Spider-Man, the goofy Peter Porker aka Spider-Ham, and of course Spider-Gwen, the subtle conscience and wise compass of the group. Each Spider-Man represents everything we love about the character as a whole, from his humility, his technical prowess, his subtle darkness, his ability to clown around, and his straight edge approach toward taking down the scourge of New York. “In to the Spider-Verse” is a fantastic trip in to Spider-Man’s world, filled with heart, action, comedy, and will appeal to just about everyone from kids, and families, to hardcore comic geeks man and woman alike.