“In your universe, there's only one Spider-Man. But there is another universe. It looks and sounds like yours... but it's not. My name is Miles Morales. In my world, more than one wears the mask.”
That's the premise for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the first-ever big screen animated movie starring Spider-Man — more accurately, Spider-Men.
Sony Pictures showed off the upcoming Sony Pictures Animation production at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, presenting a mix of exclusive but incomplete footage from the CG-animated Spidey tale and big screen debut of Afro-Latino teen Miles Morales.
Tom Rothman, Chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, dubbed the “8-to-80 PG event film” Sony's “bright and shining Christmas present” for 2018, following the all-ages Dwayne Johnson-led blockbuster hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, arriving just before Santa last year.
This December, Sony delivers “a brand new take on the most iconic character of them all,” Rothman said, exalting the newest animated production from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as “a breakthrough in animation.”
“It's a new visual and story universe where one of the most popular modern Spider-Man comic heroes, Miles Morales, can come to life at last,” Rothman said. “Fans have clamored for this young hero of color to have his own film, and these two guys figured out how to do it.”
The Dynamic Duo
Enter an enthused Lord and Miller, the dynamic duo serving as producers alongside Avi Arad (Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy), Amy Pascal (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Christina Steinberg (Trollhunters).
“We are so excited about this movie, we're so proud of it,” said Lord, who is credited as sole screenwriter. “We're thrilled to help bring the story of Miles Morales to the screen.”
He continued: “His story is a sensation in the comics, we loved it there, and we were so inspired to try to find a way to tell his story visually that would be commensurate with that. It's a totally revolutionary style of animation as Tom was talking about, and it was too big of an opportunity for us to pass up.”
Miller, who crafted the story of Spider-Verse in partnership with longtime collaborator Lord and Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch, opened up about the re-imagined Spider-Man, who Miller called “a really unique character.”
“It's his Brooklyn upbringing, it's his culture. He's half-Puerto Rican, half-African-American, he's a product of a happy and alive family, he's 13-years-old,” Miller said.
“All that tells the kind of hero he's going to become, and we're going to get to experience the Spider-Man legend through this new and exciting lens.”
“To bring Miles to life we worked with an actor that we've known for a little while and have been dying to work with,” Lord said, “who gave a performance that was so rich and so genuine that Miles became everything that we have envisioned and much, much more.”
Lord then introduced the “incredibly talented and outrageously charming” and clearly excited Shameik Moore (Dope and The Get Down), whose immediate, buoyant playfulness plainly embodied the youthful Spidey from creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli's comic books.
“I'm sure I'm not the only kid who imagined himself being Spider-Man,” Moore said.
“I mean, Spider-Man is the most beloved superhero of all time. In fact — this is a true story, actually — five years ago in my journal, I did write, 'I am Miles Morales, I am Spider-Man,' and now I get to play him. It's literally like Christmas for me.”
“And as Stan Lee said when he first created Spider-Man,” he added, “'it's really true that anyone can wear the mask.”
The Best-Looking Spider-Man Movie
The sizzle reel, a mix of near-finished and storyboard-like animation, dazzled.
Even in its rough state, it can already be described as the most comic book-looking movie ever made: this is a colorful, living comic book, each of its lively and dynamic “panels” popping off the screen.
The animation is distinctly Sony Pictures Animation's in-house expression, but with a Sara Pichelli-inspired flavor; its style and characters are loose and exaggerated, adding to the fluidity expected of a relaxed and flexible Spider-Man.
Fast-cut footage showed Miles in a form-fitting and swanky red-and-black Spidey costume of his own, swinging, flinging, dropping, and soaring in a dizzying dance above a vibrant and lived-in New York City with neon-lit backdrops, conjuring imagery akin to that of a more colorful Blade Runner.
Into the Spider-Verse promises to be a technical and design marvel — and another fine addition to Spidey's web of films.
The Death (And Return) Of Spider-Man
In the footage, electronic billboards in Times Square report grave news: Spider-Man has been found dead at the age of 26.
A lanky Miles, in a makeshift red-and-blue costume meant to honor the fallen webslinger, approaches Peter Parker's grave.
“I'm sorry, Mr. Parker,” he says,
Then, from behind, Jake Johnson's voice: “Hey, kid.”
“What?” Miles exclaims, “That's impossible!”
A pair of NYPD cops draw on the teen in his make-do getup that's more baggy hoodie than superhero uniform.
“Put 'em up, son!”
The teen is scared off.
A disembodied voice, likely that of Liev Schrieber, warns ominously: “You will pay the price, Spider-Man.”
Later, a disheveled and frumpy Peter Parker, in an equally rumpled and sloppy Spider-Man costume, is webbed up in Miles' bedroom.
“This is cute,” Peter says, unimpressed. He doesn't budge. Then, catching on, “OK, now it's less cute.”
A suspicious Miles, mouth running a mile a minute, interrogates him:
“Why aren't you dead? Why is your hair different? Why are you older?”
The camera focuses on Peter's soft, pudgy body.
“Why is your body... a different shape?” Miles asks.
“Pretty sure you just called me fat.”
A rapid fire back and forth.
“Are you a ghost?”
“Are you a zombie?”
“Am I a zombie?”
“You're not even close. I know exactly what's going on.”
“This is amazing!” Miles exclaims. “You're going to teach me to be Spider-Man!”
At a diner, Peter pigs out. A warm smile across his permanent five o'clock shadow. “Mmmm. I love this burger, so delicious.”
This Peter Parker isn't at all what Miles expected. Neither do we.
“I think you're gonna be a bad teacher,” he quips.
We were shown glimpses of the Green Goblin battling a grown-up Spider-Man in the sewers deep below the city: Spidey's arch-foe looked Ultimate in spirit, but with sprawling and fully-functional wings giving him a look more like that of a monstrous dragon.
We caught glimpses of an Ultimate-inspired Kingpin, more mass than man, and adult Spider-Man facing off with a modern Prowler.
Peter here is the cool, older slacker uncle — the schlubby Obi-Wan to Miles' Luke Skywalker.
“Look Miles, what makes you different,” Peter tells him, “that's what makes you Spider-Man.”
We meet Miles' father, Jefferson (voice of Brian Tyree Henry), a police officer and a mountain of a man. A big teddy bear.
“I see this spark in you, it's amazing,” he says lovingly. “Whatever you choose to do, you'll be great.”
Later, the Spider-Men take to the skies.
“Time to swing, just like I taught you,” a suited-up Spider-Man says.
“When did you teach me that?” Miles asks.
“I didn't, it's a little joke. For team building.”
The tone is light-hearted and earnest.
Miles and Jefferson in his squad car.
“I love you, Miles,” dad says.
“I know, dad,” Miles answers, getting out.
Then: the whoop of his police siren. Over speaker:
“You gotta say I love you back.”
An embarrassed Miles.
Another quick back and forth:
“Dad, are you serious?”
He is. “I wanna hear it!”
“You wanna hear me say it?”
Dad pushes. “I LOVE YOU, DAD!”
“You're dropping me off at school —”
“I LOVE YOU, DAD!”
“— Look at this place!”
“DAD, I LOVE YOU.”
Miles, defeated: “Dad... I love you.”
“That's a copy.”
End of teaser.
A Whole New World
Into the Spider-Verse, with its wide anamorphic canvas and fresh, bold animation, is a stunner.
“You can see how dazzling [the shots] are and understand why the film is dated Christmas worldwide,” said Rothman. “Because it truly is for everyone. Young, old, and in-between.”
The trailer featured more Peter Parker than December's teaser let on, but make no mistake: this is very clearly and very obviously a Miles Morales movie.
At the heart of any good Spider-Man tale is an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances, now duty-bound to use his great power to fulfill his great responsibility. The footage shown seemed to achieve the same sweet-spot tone and coming-of-age tale captured by Spider-Man: Homecoming — funny but not irreverent, fun but not without stakes, and a big, big heart.
Spider-Verse very well could prove to be Sony's own Black Panther, the Marvel Studios blockbuster that proved a worldwide phenomenon earlier this year with its mostly cast of color.
It remains to be seen if the super-toon from directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman can tap into that same zeitgeist — as unlikely to ever be repeated as it is — but the power of the Spider-Man brand and the appeal of a fresh, mixed-race hero could make Sony and Columbia Pictures almost prophetic with what should prove to be the family-favorite hit of the Christmas season.
It's time to get excited, Marvel and Spidey fans: this one's going to be out of this world. Out of several worlds.1comments
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters December 14.
Please credit ComicBook.com with any transcriptions borrowed from this piece.