A staple in the Superhero story, whether it’s on the comic book page or on the big screen is the origin story. We always need to how the hero was born, what drives them and what usually traumatic event causes them to put on a mask or a cape and risk their life for complete strangers. When it comes to film, the origin story is essential for the average moviegoer, but for fans that grew up reading the comics it sometimes takes a bit more to pull us in.
We all know the origins of Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man and their beginnings have been put on film over half a dozen times. So many times fact that we would rather it was just skipped over as it was accomplished to near perfection for Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spiderman: Homecoming, with the epic set-up of Captain America: Civil War. But as we are now in the Marvel Age of films the tightrope of origin has become even more unsteady. With the upcoming film releases such as Aquaman, Captain Marvel, and Shazam!, if the trailers are any indication there is sure to be an origin story for all these characters, some may land or not.
The filmmakers involved in the making of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are so aware of the tiredness that can come from what we as fans and now audiences are already aware of, how a hero decides to become a hero can be a bit boring. What is genius about this movie though is there are 7 origin stories in Spider-Verse. They manage to pull that off and still are able to make an incredible film. They show our multiple hero’s tale in a series of similar shots and narration by Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham and so on. It’s clever, funny and mostly it’s entertaining. What is even more astonishing is that through all this they manage to take their time to tell a similar origin story throughout the film for our main character, Miles Morales and don’t forget to make it both equally tragic and emotional as we follow him on his journey to pull on the mask.
We seek to be entertained by what we already see coming, the answering of the call. That’s what writer of the film Phil Lord understands more than most, and you can tell from his previous work with Chris Miller on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, and The Lego Movie. Those films are filled with self-referencing humor, meta context, and the hero’s journey which has been with us since the written word. In popular culture the combination of all these elements, for me anyways became the most evident in the work of Joss Whedon on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, and pretty much anything written by Brian Michael Bendis who may have written the most Spider-Man stories than any other comic writer in history and is also a producer on Spider-Verse. There is practically an overload of information as the film races towards it finish line at a breakneck speed onto the the next joke or reference as you are just getting over the one brilliantly executed two jokes or references ago. This only increases the rewatch factor of the film which everything I’ve just mentioned above has in spades.
I haven’t even go into the animation style of the film which is next-level amazing. I will even go out after one viewing and say that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the greatest comic book films of all time. And it certainly is the best superhero animated film ever, sorry Incredibles you had a great run but it’ll be Spidey swinging into history as the best, that is until the inevitable sequel which if the stinger at the end of the film is any indication will be both genius and hilarious. Until then, I’m gonna go see this hero’s beginning again…and again.