"Alright, people, let's do this one last time."
Animated superhero film, released in 2018 by Sony Pictures Animation. The film was produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Christina Steinberg, and directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman. The screenplay was written by Lord and Rothman.
As you might guess from the title, it's a movie about the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man -- but not necessarily the usual Spider-Man. The story is based in part on the 2014 comics miniseries "Spider-Verse" and on the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics series by Brian Michael Bendis that introduced the character Miles Morales in 2011.
Our plotline: Miles Morales is a smart kid living in Brooklyn. His dad, Jefferson, is an African-American cop, and his mom, Rio, is a Puerto Rican nurse. His uncle, Aaron, his father's estranged brother, is, well, maybe not entirely on the right side of the law. Miles attends a magnet school but wishes he was still attending his old high school. Depressed about feeling alone at the fancy prep school, he skips class to visit his uncle, who takes him to an abandoned subway station to paint graffiti. Before they leave, Miles is bitten by a spider -- and soon realizes he's acquired strange spider-like powers! But there's already a Spider-Man! He's on TV all the time! Miles' dad hates him! How did Miles get his powers?
So Miles goes back to the subway to search for the spider and blunders into a secret hideout containing a massive particle accelerator designed to create portals to other dimensions. Spider-Man is trying to shut the super-collider down while battling the Green Goblin and the Prowler, henchmen of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime. Spider-Man and Miles meet, briefly, and sense their shared super-powers. Spidey promises to train Miles in how to use his powers -- but he gets badly injured during the fight. He gives Miles a USB drive to disable the collider before it can destroy the city. And then Fisk kills Spider-Man, and Miles has to run for his life.
And after that, things get really weird. Miles meets another Spider-Man -- a Peter B. Parker from another universe, an older, more cynical, more broken hero. And not long after that, he meets a Spider-Gwen -- an alternate universe Gwen Stacy who got her own spider powers and fights crime as Spider-Woman. And then he meets three more spider-powered heroes -- Spider-Man Noir, a tough-talking, black-and-white private eye from the 1930s; Peni Parker, a Japanese-American schoolgirl from the year 3145 who shares a telepathic bond with a superpowered spider piloting a robot gladiator; and Spider-Ham, a cartoon pig.
It quickly becomes clear that our heroes need to shut down the particle accelerator permanently, or it could destroy New York, if not the entire world. And it's equally clear that the other-dimensional spider-heroes need to return to their homes soon, or their cellular structures will glitch out painfully and fatally. Can Miles master his powers and overcome tragedy and betrayal in time to save his friends and his city?
The film's cast included:
Stan Lee scores a few cameos in the movie -- he plays the costume shop owner who sells Miles a cheap Spidey costume, in a small role that's both humorous and touching. He also briefly portrays J. Jonah Jameson, a role Stan had wanted to play for years, as he claimed he'd based JJJ's character on himself. He also appears a few times in non-speaking roles as easter eggs for eagle-eyed fans.
It was a bit of a miracle this movie was so well-made -- a lot of people weren't expecting much from it when it was announced, largely because Sony Pictures Animation does not have a very good track record. Just the year before, their big release had been the universally despised "Emoji Movie," and the idea that they were going to release a Spider-Man movie had a lot of fans dreading what horrors might be unleashed.
But those fears were unfounded, and "Spider-Verse" became one of the best-reviewed films of the year. It won the Best Animated Feature awards at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. It was rated 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it got a score of 87 from Metacritic, and the audience score on CinemaScore was a solid A+.
And those awards and accolades were absolutely deserved. You heard a lot of people saying this was the best Spider-Man movie ever made, and it is! You heard a lot of people saying it could potentially be the best superhero movie ever made. I'm not willing to say that yet, but if it's not the best, it's very, very near the top. You even heard people saying it was the best movie released in all of 2018, and this may very well be correct, too.
"Spider-Verse" is an astonishingly great movie, and it actually pulls off the feat of having a large cast of characters and making all of them feel important and distinctive, from the lead characters -- nerdy, horny, frequently confused Miles, working his way slowly from incompetent to triumphant; Peter B., out-of-shape, broken but proud, moving from a dejected basket case sobbing -- in costume -- in his shower to a man willing to reclaim his life and his love; cynical, lonely, but hyper-competent Gwen, stealing every scene she's in -- to the gloriously vast supporting cast -- the wonderfully funny Spider-Ham; grayscale Spider-Man Noir, benefitting from Nic Cage gleefully going "the full Cage" on the role; Jefferson, the tough cop, the embarrassing dad, the heartbroken man who gives his son the pep talk he didn't know he needed; Uncle Aaron, wise and foolish, funny and tragic, teaching his nephew the perfect pickup line he'll remember all his life; Aunt May, the smartest and most active version of the character ever -- to the lead villains -- the Kingpin, powerful, monstrous, but still the rare hint of nobility, at least in his love for his family; and Doc Ock, a full re-imagining of the character, with new tech, new attitude, new, well, new everything.
We should talk about how the movie looks -- because how the movie looks is amazing. The filmmakers decided they wanted the film to look and feel like a comic book -- and not by adding fake panel borders, like many comics-inspired films. Instead, the CGI animation was embellished with comics-style linework, painting, and even halftone and Ben Day dots to simulate methods of shading and coloring used in many older comics. Some of the characters were even animated in different styles -- Spider-Man Noir was entirely black-and-white, Peni Parker looked like a character from an anime, and Spider-Ham was designed to be an exaggerated Warner Bros.-style cartoon.
The soundtrack was designed to feel like a bunch of artists who Miles himself would listen to -- Post Malone, Swae Lee, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, XXXTentacion, and many others. A pair of singles were released -- "Sunflower" by Post Malone and "What's Up Danger" by Blackway and Black Caviar (which also got used to spotlight the most epic sequence of the film). A short gag album was also released called "A Very Spidey Christmas," featuring humorous Spider-themed Christmas songs, including "Joy to the World (That I Just Saved)" by Shameik Moore, "Spidey-Bells (A Hero's Lament)" by Chris Pine, "Deck the Halls" by Jake Johnson, "Up on the Housetop" by Chris Pine, and "The Night Before Christmas 1967 (Spoken Word)" by Jorma Taccone, who had a short cameo as the Spider-Man from the 1967 animated cartoon.
Have you seen this movie yet? You should really, really watch this movie, folks. It's amazing, spectacular, sensational, and even superior.