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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Not on the Best of 2018 List: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Every few years a movie comes out that everybody absolutely loves, but I find I don’t love it, or even like it, and in fact I can’t imagine how anybody could like it. There were so many reasons I disliked Into the Spider-Verse:

  • Headache-inducing visuals: I just saw this movie with a friend and we were the only ones in the theater. We were seeing an “XD” showing, not a 3-D one, but everything in the foreground or background had a double-vision effect going on. He turned to me a half-hour in and said, “Uh, is this a 3D print or something?” I said, “Yeah, you’re right, it is.” So he went out to get glasses, but he came back without them and said, “They say that’s just how it is.” I was convinced they were wrong, and as I watched, I thought, “Well, this is a very unpleasant viewing experience, but I shouldn’t blame the movie, because, no matter what they say, this is clearly a 3D print.” But when I got home and googled it and found out that no, that’s just how it is. The movie also does that drop-every-3rd-frame thing that “Dragon Prince” does to make it look more like cel animation, which is massively annoying.
  • Headache-inducing concept: The whole idea of the movie is that every parallel Earth has its own Spider-Man with its own tweaked version of the origin. That’s fine, so Miles Morales is the one from this Earth, right? But he’s not: the Peter Parker Spider-Man has already existed on his Earth and gets brutally beaten to death at the beginning (I was glad I hadn’t taken my kids!). So doesn’t that violate the whole concept? Why is our Earth the only one with two Spider-Men, and how did it get two? Miles is bitten by a seemingly-normal spider in a subway tunnel. There’s none of the explanation we get in other movies about a radiated or genetically engineered spider. So how did he get powers? Is this the same spider that bit Peter? Has it bitten anybody else in the intervening years? It would seem like this would be a set-up for a movie about lots of Spider-Men all on our Earth, but then we go off in a different multi-dimensional direction, and no explanation of how Miles got his powers is given. It just doesn’t hang together as a concept.
  • Headache-inducing plotting: To those that love the movie (which, I’ll stress again, is everybody but me) can you explain to me why Spider-Man can turn invisible? Or shoot electricity? Isn’t the whole concept of the character supposed to be that he has the powers of a spider? Why mess with that? Just because the writers said, “Hmm, how to get him out of this? I know, we’ll just give him electricity powers!” Is there any other explanation other than laziness?
  • Sheer exhaustion: We’ve already had three Spider-Men in recent years, two of which were pretty great. We’ve already had two kingpins, two green goblins, etc. Aren’t you people tired? Am I the only one that’s tired?

I suppose there were elements of the movie that were appealing. Miles was likeable. His relationship with his dad was well written. Nicolas Cage was funny. But, for the most part, I thought this movie sucked, and I’m so, so completely baffled at the love it’s received. Not on the list!

5 comments:

Ishmael said...

"So doesn’t that violate the whole concept? Why is our Earth the only one with two Spider-Men, and how did it get two?"

Why would that violate the concept? How is having a world with a successor to Spider-Man stranger than a world where a spider was bitten by a radioactive pig?

"Miles is bitten by a seemingly-normal spider in a subway tunnel. There’s none of the explanation we get in other movies about a radiated or genetically engineered spider. [...] no explanation of how Miles got his powers is given."
It had a number painted on it's back. I thought it was fairly obvious it was an experimental spider similar to the one that got Peter. I assumed it was tied to Alchemax, but I don't recall if that was stated. If we don't get more detail than that for the many other Spider-origins in this film, then why is this particular shortcut not okay?

"can you explain to me why Spider-Man can turn invisible? Or shoot electricity? Isn’t the whole concept of the character supposed to be that he has the powers of a spider? Why mess with that?"
The "sting" and camouflage are both based on actual spider abilities. See an interview with his creator:
https://www.cbr.com/commentary-track-bendis-on-ultimate-comics-spider-man-2/
And, again, why is a fairly random power like "spider-sense" given an out, but these two that have a stronger basis in spider-abilities not okay?

"Just because the writers said, “Hmm, how to get him out of this? I know, we’ll just give him electricity powers!” Is there any other explanation other than laziness?"
Setting aside the above, he's based on an existing character with those powers. So what would screenwriter laziness have to do with anything?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Morales

"We’ve already had two kingpins"
Are you counting the Daredevil TV show or something? We've never had Spider-Man meet Kingpin in a film before now, and Kingpin is traditionally a Spider-Man villain.

"Aren’t you people tired? Am I the only one that’s tired?"
It's hard to get too tired of good movies.

Matt Bird said...

Thank you for answering my questions! It's good to know these things do have answers, though I can still gripe that these things weren't obvious to me, despite being a comic-book guy.

I've never enjoyed the comics of Brian Michael Bendis, so I've never read any Miles Morales comics, so I didn't knew he had invisibility or electricity power in the comics. I guess you're right that it's no odder than spider-sense.

Ishmael said...

I'm not a fan of BMB's team or event comics, but his run of Ultimate Spider-Man (both Peter and Miles) is well worth reading.

friendly Anonymous said...

I likeded Spider-verse mostly because of it's aesthetics. I love the art direction, it's unlike anything I have seen before.

As for the spider man exhaustion, I didn't bother watching the other spider man movies so it was no problem for me.
I actually dislike live action superhero movies, even the “good” ones. Super heroes are and inherently silly idea and I could never truly suspense my disbelief.
You take the same silly premise and put it in an animated film and suddenly everything makes sense. A stylized medium can deliver stylized stories a lot better. I am not much of a comic reader so Spider-verse was the first time I could really enjoy a marvel super hero movie.

Brian McLachlan said...

I wonder if the rushed over origin of Miles has something to do with how Miles has been part of the Marvel universe for long enough now that my kids just know him. He's been in both Spider-Man TV cartoons, the avengers comic books from Free Comic Book Day, the toy line etc. We didn't need to see it again, in the way they skipped over it in Homecoming.

Also, being tired of Kingpin or Green Goblin is like being tired of the Washington Generals or people named Darth something. It's part of the world. If you don't enjoy the world, fair enough. Spider-Man has often had three monthly comic books, as well as guest-starring in other comics, so if anyone gets spread thin, it's traditionally been him.

I think Green Goblin was a great choice, because he's tied to the original Spider-Man, who he kills (and accidentally causes the parallel universes to be connected to Spider-Man by getting Peter caught in it). That's using familiar territory to bring us into newer characters the mainstream audience is less familiar with. If they had a whole new villain, audiences might find it too unusual.

Kingpin is also a great villain because a) he's not Vincent D doing his Christopher Walken impression b) he's a physically imposing white male authority figure c)he is a dark mirror of Spider-Man. Peter's actions caused his loved ones deaths, so he decided to do his best to ensure no one else felt the same loss. Kingpin's actions caused his loved ones deaths, so he is devoting his life to bringing them back, stripping them from another character who will experience their loss, rather than change who he is. Miles doesn't have the same origin, but that motivation still thematically ties into the Spider-man universe.