Moral journey from zero to hero | Daily News


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Moral journey from zero to hero

Spider-man is the Marvel Universe’s ‘Everyman’. We look at Peter Parker through the years, what he represents, and how he has changed through the movie franchises.

But this year, when Hollywood is under the microscope on the hot-button issue of diversity, the superhero is half-black and half-Latino.

Step aside, Peter Parker. There’s a new Spidey in town. Hello, Miles Morales. Miles as Spidey is not new to comic book enthusiasts, but he is new to theatre-goers, who earlier this year embraced the long-awaited arrival of the Marvel universe’s first black hero, Black Panther, on the silver screen.

The film recalls the visual style of the original comic books, with less refined art and speech balloons that appear on screen.

Stan Lee’s posthumous cameo

Its release came one month after the death of the character’s creator - Marvel legend Stan Lee, at the age of 95. But the man behind a stable of heroes, from the Hulk to the X-Men, is still present. He is listed as an executive producer and - as is customary for Marvel films - Lee has a cameo appearance, in animated form.

The idea for a Spider-Man of colour first took hold in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected US president. Miles, whose father is black and mother is Latina, first hit comic book stands as Spider-Man in a parallel universe in 2011 following Parker’s apparent death.

In an animated television version, of-the-moment actor-musician Donald Glover voiced Miles. But a film adaptation always seemed likely, as Tinseltown works to show that not all superheroes have to be white men. ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ stand out as proof that fans are ready for different heroes.

Groundbreaking 3D animation style

The unique and often groundbreaking 3D animation style is a fantastic aspect of the movie, that’s the first of its kind. It’s like watching a comic book being brought to life, complete with vibrant colours, and some actual thought bubbles sprinkled in for dramatic effect. With so many American animated films resembling Pixar, nowadays, ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ is a visual experience unlike anything we have seen before. Those one-of-a-kind visuals add an otherworldly look, which is appropriate since the story is not set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

‘Into the Spider-Verse’ wisely takes its time when it comes to rolling out its story, allowing for strong character development as we learn more about Miles (Shameik Moore) and his family life before the web-slinging begins. The Morales family is genuinely engaging, especially in the complex relationship the creative Miles has with his hard-nosed police officer father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) and his estranged uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali). Miles’ search for the right kind of mentor is a big part of his character arc.

Strength from adversity

On the superhero side of things, after being bitten by a genetically-modified spider, In true Spider-Man origin story form, Miles begins to doubt if he has what it takes to join the superhero elite. Once Miles does figure it all out, his youthful exuberance is palpable whenever he’s swinging through the brightly-lit New York City streets.

Miles embraces many of the characteristics that Peter exhibits: bravery, kindness, and a strong connection to his family. He finds strength in his friends and family and when he fights, he fights for them.

Though this story is Miles’, the other members of Team Spider-Verse, each, have their moments to shine; particularly in the larger action-packed fight scenes. Apart from Peter, Spider-Gwen, (Hailee Steinfeld) has the biggest and most compelling character arc here. Spider-Man Noir (brilliantly voiced by Nicolas Cage), is particularly memorable; as is Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), whose Looney Toons-inspired animation is charming. Rounding out the team is the futuristic, anime-inspired Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn).

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is facing some stiff competition this year in the Best Animated Feature category at the 91st Academy Awards. In a year stuffed with two big animated Disney sequels – ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and ‘Incredibles 2’, ‘Spider-Verse’ may be the favourite to take home the prize. 

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