Everybody Likes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Released in December of 2018, this animated superhero film appears to be a universal hit.
I remember when it first came out, how everybody was super hype about it. Felt like the movie just came out of nowhere… and now suddenly, everybody is acting like it’s the best thing ever lol.
Just looking at the marketing materials, it felt to me like some direct-to-whatever one-off movie that I wasn’t really interested in seeing. Plus, despite having been a dedicated comic book collector during my childhood, I’m really no longer a fan of superhero lore. I think it’s kinda dumb.
Some good movies crop out of all these various cinematic universes, but for the most part, they bore me.
But when a large crop of my non-superhero-loving friends started passionately recommending the movie to me, that’s when the “tipping point” crescendo’d in my attention. I had to watch it, naturally.
So I just saw it with a friend, and I gotta say — it really is as good as everybody makes it out to be.
There’s two things going on with this movie:
It entertains genre lovers. It entertains non-genre lovers.
The genre people (i.e.: superhero nerd fanboys) are titillated by the deep cut references, and the solid execution of a genre story. Cool. Everybody needs love.
The non-genre people are titillated by the intensity of the irreverence. You don’t need to be “in the know” on anything to appreciate the hyper meta-humor and the universal themes presented (primarily that of “making a leap of faith” with your life). It’s also succinct in its structure. Your attention is rewarded.
Because both sides of the spectacle are so well formulated, not only for two distinct audiences, but as one distinct mass audience in the way the creatives organically mix the two worlds together… I believe this is why everybody liked the movie so much. The genre people can experience novel spectacle from the intruding meta-intensity, & the non-genre people can enjoy a fast-paced action adventure story.
Many Hollywood movies try to make an experience that has “a little something for everybody” (see: Spider-Man Homecoming) but it often fails big time. It feels pandering. This movie achieves the same effect without the repulsive aftertaste of corporate pandering. In many ways, this is the film I wish Homecoming was going to be: a vaporwave Spider-Man, something between Marvel & Social Network.
My running theory is this — Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a movie spectacle made for everybody because it doesn’t cater to nerdy comic book fan people, nor attempts to cater to everybody. As opposed to having one master or no masters (all masters), this movie has TWO MASTERS: Genre people & non-genre people. And by expertly weaving both of these threads, the filmmakers made one great thing.