Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse grabbed the attention of critics and fans right from that first trailer flaunting a graphic, comic book-inspired style of animation. Based on the first round of reviews for the full-length film, the final product lives up to the hype.
Critics largely praised Into the Spider-Verse for its visuals, yes, but also its ability to juggle all these characters (many from different dimensions), its humor, and its refocus on a core Spider-Man principle — anyone can be Spider-Man, whether you’re a dark and brooding Noir hero or a talking pig. The consensus — at least from these responses — is clear: this is one of the best Spider-Man movies.
Good news for Sony Animation, which has plans for even more trips to the Spider-Verse.
EW’s Darren Franich was a bit more critical, but agrees the film is “a fascinating 2.5D universe.”
“Moore’s performance has a pleasantly tossed-off quality, sounding almost improvised amidst all the digitality,” he writes. “He comes off like a pretty cool kid, which is maybe a minor problem for anyone dedicated to Spider-Man originalism. But none of the movies have ever really caught the character’s solitary outcast melancholy, the feeling you get from Ditko’s first ever Parker drawing that you’re looking at the absolute loneliest creature on Earth… But the look of Spider-Verse feels fresh. The wall-to-wall soundtrack is fun. The first act successfully conjures a feeling of community and family history around its new superhero.”
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman with a screenplay written by Phil Lord, the film follows Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) as he becomes the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man from the comics. After a catastrophic plot by Kingpin, Miles’ origin story turns into a cross-dimensional team-up as Spider-people from alternate realities become trapped in his universe.
Other voice talent includes Jake Johnson as Peter Parker (or should we say a Peter Parker), Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen, Mahershala Ali as Miles’ uncle, Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, and John Mulaney as Spider-Ham.
See more reviews below.
Darren Franich (Entertainment Weekly)
“Do these characters sound fun? They are! And the one big action number that unites the Spider-people against an onslaught of villains is very fun. But you start to feel the 10-car-pileup of this movie’s intentions when the other Spideys show up. Spider-Verse has three credited directors, which seems like a lot even for a cartoon. It was co-written by Phil Lord, half the animation braintrust behind the LEGO series, and I’m not sure the resulting film ever fully decides whether it’s a full-fledged LEGO Batman-y goof or a sincere attempt to Make A Statement about what Spider-Man means.”
Peter Debruge (Variety)
“In what amounts to yet another high-concept, heavy-meta home run from The Lego Movie mavens Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — serving as producers, while directing duties fall to Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman at Sony Pictures Animation — Spider-Verse applies the retro look of four-color process printing to its 3D computer-animated characters. The effect is fresh, like some kind of street-art riff on a Roy Lichtenstein print, intricately textured with halftone dots and hand-drawn accents to suggest a vintage comic book come to life. Against this bold visual aesthetic, matched with a pulsing hip-hop score, Lord and co-writer Rodney Rothman (22 Jump Street) shift the spotlight from Peter Parker to mixed-race Miles Morales.”
Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)
“It helps to be well versed in Spider-Man lore to fully appreciate Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a free-wheeling, fast-and-loose, strikingly animated addition to one of the biggest library of films in the Marvel collection. Faced with the challenge of how to further expand the franchise without sating both the character and fans, Marvel and Sony have borrowed from the comics to introduce a fresh origin story that both references the past and swings into a new, thoroughly multi-cultural and multi-Spidified future. Although it unfortunately exhausts itself and its creators’ cleverness by running at least 20 minutes too long, this sharp-minded variation on familiar elements looks to go over very well with its large target audience.”
William Bibbiani (The Wrap)
“Miraculously, instead of feeling like too much of a good thing, Into the Spider-Verse is simply a very good thing. The film, directed by Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, captures the sprawling interconnectivity of comic-book universes in a way that no other feature film has. Anything can happen, and it usually does. It’s incredibly thrilling to watch, impressively emotional throughout, and easily the best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2.”
David Erhlich (IndieWire)
“Tragic news for anyone who’s sick of superhero movies: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse completely reinvigorates the genre, reaffirms why it’s resonating with a diverse modern audience that’s desperate to fight the power, and reiterates to us how these hyper-popular spandex myths are able to reinvent themselves on the fly whenever things get stale. Just when it seemed like Infinity War might be the culmination of a cultural phenomenon, that Stan Lee’s death could symbolize the end of an era, and that Turn Off the Dark was always going to be the silliest possible subtitle for a Spider-Man adaptation, along comes a delirious postmodern spectacle to remind us that these movies will exist for as long as people need to see themselves reflected in them. Sometimes, that can feel like a threat. Watching “Into the Spider-Verse,” it’s more like a promise.”
Justin Chang (The Los Angeles Times)
“On paper, the movie sounds entirely superfluous: It dreams up an entirely new storyline set in a parallel-universe New York and introduces an exhausting cross-dimensional cluster of Spidey-heroes. And to my chagrin, it’s terrific — a quick-witted entertainment, daring and familiar by turns, that also proves to be sweet, serious and irreverent in all the right doses. Leave it to the reliable comic brain trust of producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie), who, along with a trio of directors (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman), have tackled this project with their usual formula-busting, pretension-puncturing gusto.”
Matt Singer (ScreenCrush)
“As a Spider-Man fan almost since birth, I could pretend Into the Spider-Verse is the Spider-Man movie of my dreams, but that would be a lie. Into the Spider-Verse is beyond anything I’ve ever dreamed is possible — even after Sam Raimi gave us his incredible Spider-Man films and Kevin Feige and Jon Watts brought him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even at their best, the live-action films still seemed bound in little ways by the rules of the real world; Into the Spider-Verse gets to embrace Spider-Man’s weird physicality and kooky imagery in ways they never could.”
Angie Han (Mashable)
“Spider-Verse not only returns Spider-Man to his comic-book roots, but reinstates that fundamental idea. In this telling of the story, it truly could be anyone behind that mask — a little girl, a grizzled detective, a middle-aged sad sack, maybe even another unassuming New York kid — and all the people wearing it are better together than they are apart.”
Mike Ryan (UPROXX)
“Honestly, I love this movie and I love that it exists. I love that Sony took a risk on a (yes) somewhat complicated premise and turned it into something unique and funny and daring (and weird). I don’t always love the concept of “rooting” for movies to be financially successful, but I do hope Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse succeeds and sets off, not just a few more of these Miles Morales Spider-Man films, but also a whole plethora of studio-backed animated superhero films that can take real chances. This animated movie has more heart and emotion than most live actions films of this genre. If you give it a chance, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will knock your socks off.”
Susana Polo (Polygon)
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse makes humor and exhilaration the primary emotions associated with being a superhero. It never lets you forget that wittyness is among Peter Parker’s greatest powers, it never misses a chance to have a character walk casually along a wall for the sake of it and when Miles finally learns to swing a web you feel the joy of his accomplishment. Superheroing is stylish in Spider-Verse, an easy thing to forget in the world of even Marvel Studios’ quippy, character-forward cinematic universe.”
David Griffin (IGN)
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits all the marks to be an all-around moviegoing blast. Miles Morales has a memorable big-screen debut thanks to a compelling story and strong performances from its heroes and villain. Alongside Peter Parker, Miles’ journey from everyday teenager to a genuine city-saving superhero is one of the best Spider-Man movie stories ever. The addition of other multiverse characters doesn’t overshadow Miles’ story, though Kingpin does get a bit shortchanged. Taking a bold departure from the Pixar animation style we’ve come to expect from mainstream animated films, Into the Spider-Verse delivers a dynamic visual experience unlike any other.”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opens on Dec. 14.