Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best animated movie of 2018. It is funny, charming, exciting, and carries an emotional weight I didn’t expect. Even in a year with Incredibles 2, Spider-Verse manages to reach higher highs in action and storytelling.
**BEWARE SPOILERS BELOW**
As Miles tries to understand his new powers he bumps into Peter B. Parker. A Spider-Man from another dimension who isn’t nearly as cool as the Spider-Man we all know and love. This Spider-Man is pushing 40, divorced from Mary-Jane, and is kind of done being a hero. I should note that Jake Johnson puts in some great voice work in this role and delivers some truly laugh out loud lines while still nailing the emotional arc this Peter ends up on. Miles and Peter team up to try and stop the portal and return him back to his universe before he is lost forever. Along the way they meet Spider-Gwen from a universe where Gwen Stacy becomes Spider-Woman after her best friend Peter Parker dies. Spydr & Peni are a Japanese anime version of the character, Spider-Noir who is a 1930s black and white detective voiced by the man Nic Cage, and finally Spider-Ham from a Looney Tunes style universe where Spider-Man is a talking pig. All of these characters have great moments and a purpose being in the movie.
I don’t want to spoil any of the narrative beats but I can say it was worth every second. Miles is a great character and his relationship with his parents and uncle Arthur are something that I enjoyed so much that I hope the MCU brings Miles into the Avengers movies when Tom Holland gets older.
Usually the Pixar movies have a message or an emotional weight to them that elevate them above movies like this but Spider-Verse was just too damn good. Peter B. Parker has a great moment. Miles and his uncle have a good scene. Miles and his own father have a great father-son dynamic that has a fantastic payoff. Everything just works here. I really loved it.
The other thing that sets it apart is the animation style. It is very stylized and comicbook-ish. This just made the entire experience watching it feel very unique. It also allowed some cool story-telling moments by allowing us to see Miles’ thoughts via text bubbles or time jumps and some exciting fight scenes in a different way. All around a fresh feel top to bottom.
Finally, I don’t know if I feel this way because he passed away recently but Stan Lee’s best cameo ever might be this movie. It isn’t a throwaway joke moment as much as encapsulating the entire theme and message of the movie. After Miles’ universe’s Spider-Man dies, Miles buys a Spider-Man suit from a vendor played by Stan Lee. I’m going off of memory here but the exchange is something like Miles says, “I don’t think the costume fits.” Stan Lee says, “I find in time the suit always fits, you just have to grow into it. Remember, anyone can wear the mask.” I know tough guys will pretend it is corny and lame but I love that the message of these movies aimed at young kids is that any of them, from any background, ethnicity, or situation can be a hero. It’s important for someone my age to be reminded of that, but to be raised knowing that it’s true? That’s spectacular.