Sony put on an amazing show at New York Comic Con on Saturday, unveiling 35 minutes of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
The film, first announced at CinemaCon in 2015, offered a crowded Madison Square Garden a first look at its first act. In it, Miles Morales (enthusiastically voiced by Shameik Moore) becomes what he referred to on stage as the "black Spider-Man," though he has a Latino history to him, as well. As a matter of fact, a sequence in which Miles talks with both of his parents offers up a Spanish line of dialogue with no subtitle, offering a truly New York feel to it.
“For me, personally, I can relate to that upbringing that we’re looking at," Moore said. "I’m not actually Latino but I feel the spirit. When I was younger and I first saw Miles Morales, I thought, ‘Dude! It’s the black Spider-Man! I wanna play the black Spider-Man one day!’ I wrote it down in a journal after I did a movie called Dope and I was like, ‘Hey, I am Miles Morales. I wanna be Miles Morales!’”
The "upbringing" in reference is thoroughly on display in Spider-Verse's first act. While a radioactive spider plays into Miles' origin story here, it's an Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) with a questionable character according to Miles' policeman father (Brian Tyree Henry) who is present for the moment. The bite, in fact, pays off with a hilarious juxtaposition between the severity of the infection and Miles' complete lack of awareness of his body's changing as he is more focused on the impressive graffiti he just sprayed onto a wall.
As noted by the filmmakers on stage, creating a New York which offers a true city feel was a goal all along despite being an animated film. It's a small but crucial element of what makes the film different from the many other comic book and super hero films before it.
The film truly feels like a love letter to fans of Marvel Comics. Fans will inevitably continue to long for Miles Morales to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in live-action. However, Spider-Verse's beautiful animation style, family and character-driven drama, and abundance of Marvel Comics characters and homages will certainly suffice for the character's biggest fans.
"We made a problem for ourselves," co-director Phil Lord said. "If the movie does well and if you like it, we're gonna be stuck making 8 Spider-Verse movies." Truly driving home how dedicated to Marvel Comics fans and books themselves this is, Lord went on to thank Brian Michael Bendis for his work in creating Miles Morales.
Within the first act, it would have been easy for Sony's latest Spider-Man effort to lose the audience if not for clear, comprehensible, and fun writing. A massive Kingpin character is introduced with a couple of major Marvel villains supporting him, pulling off a massive underground operation, splintering reality and combining alternate dimensions. The footage was, in fact, loaded with spoilers for the film, but it ultimately leads to Miles realizing he is like the iconic hero Spider-Man now.
Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) is definitely going to need his help in thwarting the bad guys. While Miles is physically equipped to help Peter, he doesn't understand his abilities quite yet and has a lot of growth ahead of him both physically and mentally. The journey is going to be amusing for audiences, as the young character sent off to a sleepaway private school wrestles with his heroic responsibilities and awkward high school crushes (which his sticky hands literally can't let go of).
“It’s Peter Parker at 40," Johnson laughed. "It’s Peter Parker who’s chubby. It’s Peter Parker who’s a little depressed. And that’s different!”
35 minutes of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse were plenty to prove Sony might have a hit on its hands which will be a darling for critics and fans alike. Most excitingly, the movie seems to have barely tipped its hand through the opening act, with an abundance of fun surprises coming later in the film.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits theaters on December 14, 2018.