Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse takes the webbed crusader closer to his cartoon origins. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, the animated film features the comic-book character Miles Morales at the centre of a universe of competing Spider-man characters. Miles (voiced by Shameik Moore), who has an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, is bitten by a radioactive spider and acquires some of the powers previously thought to be the preserve of Peter Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson).
Even as he grapples with his new identity, Miles finds himself teaming up with Peter Parker/Spider-Man and other similarly endowed characters, including Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), in a bid to stop the villainous Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). Kingpin has created a collider that allows access to alternative universes – a nifty way to introduce parallel realities and time zones and keep the narrative momentum ticking.
Both a new origins story with franchise-building potential as well as a clever way of keeping Spider-Man geeks occupied, the movie is always aware of its own contrivance. (One line goes, “How many more spider people are out there? Save it for Comic-Con.”) The funky and inventive animation, which include psychedelic colours and surfaces that mimic the one-dimensional feel of comic books, keeps the plot moving through a breathless series of events. At close to 120 minutes, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse spins far too many webs for its own good, but the witty dialogue, energetic voice work, and eye-popping visuals mostly keep fatigue at bay.