From the jaw-dropping animation to the mind-bending plot, this hugely successful blockbuster has to be seen to be believed
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, available from Friday 9 August in Sky Cinema on demand. Cert PG. Also available in HD
When it comes to superhero films, the Academy doesn’t dole out Oscars to any old Tom, Dick or Loki. So when Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse bagged itself the Best Animated Feature gong back in February, it was kind of a big deal.
The first animated movie in the Spider-Man franchise follows Miles Morales, a regular teenager who develops superhuman abilities after being bitten by a spider. Sound familiar? Hear us out. With the very fabric of reality under threat, Miles must join forces with a host of different Spideys from different dimensions if he’s to save the world.
Smart, funny and visually stunning, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was a serious hit with fans and critics alike. But is it the greatest superhero film ever made? Two of our writers argue it out…
Is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse the best superhero movie ever?
Alex Finnis: YES! This vibrant adventure is stunning, clever and an absolute hoot…
It’s got a (spider) sense of humour
When did superhero films become so serious? Somewhere along the way they traded their sense of fun for ever higher stakes and ever more epic battles, so much so that they often feel like a marked departure from their comic book origins. Our heroes, once buoyed by the opportunities their powers presented, are now gloomy, dressed all in black and weighed down by expectations. Being asked to save the entire universe every few months gets exhausting, it turns out. What’s so great about Into the Spider-Verse is that it’s genuinely fun and refuses to take itself seriously. Packed with LEGO Movie-esque gags, over-the-top villains and psychedelic visuals, it’s a non-stop thrill ride with a real sense of heart.
It’s fresh and modern
We like a film that can poke fun at itself, and this one is constantly making jokes at its genre’s expense. In fact, the film’s entire premise – that multiple variants of Spidey (black, white, greyscale, male, female, even a pig) – is in itself a brilliant gag about the sheer number of different iterations of the hero that have graced our screens over the past decade. But crucially, Spider-Verse’s Spider-Men aren’t rehashed versions of the same gawky white dude. They’re diverse and accessible, while still staying true to the character’s core sensibilities. It’s the perfect Spider-Man movie for modern-day audiences.
It’s a comic book brought to life
I challenge anyone to find a more stunning animated film. I’ll wait. What makes Into The Spider-Verse so magical is how it uses its ambitious premise of multiple dimensions overlapping to seamlessly blend different animation styles, from Pixar-like levels of cartoon realism to anime and even old-school Looney Tunes silliness. The colours are bright and bold, New York City is somehow more vibrant and energetic than most live-action depictions, and the characters are exaggerated and expressive. It all results in a movie that truly feels like a comic book brought to life – you know, like a superhero film should. It’s a few WHAM! BAM! POW!s away from making you feel like a child getting lost in the pages of a magical adventure.
Laura Rutkowski: NO! I can name you not one, not two, but THREE superhero films that deserve to knock Spidey off the top spot…
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes
Sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing. There are so many Spider-Man/-woman/-pig hybrids running around in Into The Spider-Verse that it’s hard to keep track! I know die-hard Spider-Man fans will understand, and maybe I just need to clear some cobwebs from my brain, but the films I’ve chosen have something for everyone – whether they’ve seen the previous films in the franchise or not. Also, it has to be said, mutants, different species and celestial powers (all of which appear in Guardians Of The Galaxy, thank you very much) trump getting bitten by a radioactive spider every time. Take that, Spidey!
Guardians Of The Galaxy, available in Sky Cinema on demand. Cert 12
There are more laughs to be had
There’s no denying that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a great film, but the best superhero film of all time? I don’t think so. I’m not buying the whole “most superhero films are serious” claim. Take Deadpool 2 as an example. Funnyman Ryan Reynolds was born to play Marvel’s merc with a mouth, thanks to his gift of the gab (or should that be gob?). The first film was promoted by billboards bearing the skull emoji, the poo emoji and the letter “L”, for goodness sake! Into The Spider-Verse might generate some laughs, but it’s already in good company.
Deadpool 2, available in Sky Cinema on demand. Cert 15
Real people add something that animation simply can’t
Flashy CGI may come close to replicating the dizzying sense of action splashed across the pages of a comic book, but it’s flesh-and-blood actors who lift the characters off the page. It’s seen in the anguish on Michael Fassbender’s face when playing Magneto, and the furrowed brow of James McAvoy when stepping into the shoes of Professor X. We all imagine what our favourite comic book characters would be like in real life and what kind of worlds they would inhabit, and live-action superhero movies bring this to life in a way that’s infinitely more tangible than their animated counterparts.
X-Men: First Class, available in Sky Cinema on demand. Cert 12
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