Over the past two decades, there have been somewhere around 67 different Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?) swinging into theaters as part of their respective re-reboots of the franchise. It’s easy to feel exhausted at the idea of sitting through yet another Spidey origin story, disillusioned by all the awfulness to come before it. But not this time. Sony’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doubles down—in fact, septuples down—on your love of friendly neighborhood protectors, and it’s a real winner of a project that seasoned nerds and new fans alike can enjoy.
The story of Spider-Verse centers on Miles Morales as he acquires his new powers during a tumultuous period of change in his life. After tragedy hits New York following an explosion set off by big baddie Kingpin and friends, a slew of other Spider-folks get pulled into this dimension, threatening the very fabric of the universe. As the newest spiderling of the group, Miles can’t keep up with the seasoned veterans who have trained for years to become heroes of their own dimensions, and Peter Parker reluctantly takes on the mantle of mentor for our budding hero (though Spider-Gwen also provides a number of inspiring quips during their journey). Throughout the story, Miles embraces his awkward teenager phase while learning who he really is and what kind of hero he wants to be.
The voice acting and animation blend so seamlessly together you might forget just how famous a cast Spider-Verse has: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Lily Tomlin, and let’s not forget John Mulaney as cartoon-within-a-cartoon Spider-Ham—the list goes on and on. And before you ask, yes, our dearly departed Stan Lee even has an animated cameo. The film also delivers an excellent soundtrack blending new songs from the likes of Post Malone with old classic beats such as Biggie’s “Hypnotize.” The full list doesn’t get revealed to the public until December 14, but trust me, it will be worth the download.
With a PG rating, Spider-Verse is crafted for ultimate family fun, as long as you’re okay with some kicking and punching and webslinging—and, of course, occasional gunfire and the grief of losing a loved one (nothing every single Disney movie doesn’t have). I will give a warning about the bright, flashing lights and colors over the course of the film, and the slightly blurry background animation, some of which can be quite jarring, especially if you’re sensitive to such things. Even I had to look away from the opening titles a couple of times to avoid the strobelike effects.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse knows what it is and what it strives to be, using fantastic bits of humor to drive the story while nodding to the mistakes of the past. If you fancy yourself a gunter, there are plenty of Easter eggs to spot referencing the 55-plus years of Spider-history. The film also has the funniest postcredits scene I’ve ever witnessed, so stay until the end. With rave reviews talking up the movie everywhere (count this one among them), it’s no surprise Sony is already working on a sequel.