Dec 18, 2018

Roundtable: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out this past weekend and made $35,363,376 on its opening weekend domestically. Centering on Miles Morales, the African-American/Hispanic Spider-Man, it's Sony's latest animated feature film and also stars five other Spider-Men. We ran them down here last week, and we've all seen the movie, so it's time for the Comics Cube Roundtable!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse


MIGS: I love it!!! Being a big fan of Ultimate Spider-Man and Miles Morales, I felt like I was watching a Brian Michael Bendis comic book.

DUY: This is my favorite Spider-Man movie of all time. It proves anyone can wear the mask. All you need is a good heart.

KATHERINE: I knew you would love it!! The funniest thing about it too is that I know you prefer the older Peter... and this one was literally our age, married, jaded, had seen it all. They made our actual generation (the one that was in high school/college during the Tobey Maguire movies) Spider-Man.

DUY: And thank God he's Nick Miller and not Tobey.

KATHERINE: Yes, Jake Johnson has this ability to be the perfect mix of endearing and earnest while trying to seem cool and disaffected... plus such great deadpan comic timing. I'm proud to have him represent our generation's Spidey!

SAMANTHA: I loved it!  The message was awesome: "Anyone can wear the mask." I'm also proud of myself for recognizing Lily Tomlin's voice in less than a minute.

DUY:  I had some pacing issues in the beginning until old Peter Parker shows up. I may have been cranky (traffic was terrible getting to the theater) and impatient, but it's possible, as Katherine pointed out to me, that "In a movie with every kind of Spider-Man you were still impatient to get to 'yours'".

SAMANTHA: Kat makes a great point. With my eyes (movie-goer versus Spider-Fan who doesn't exactly have a stake in any one because most of their experience is with cartoons and movies versus the entire comic book run), I loved the beginning and felt like it was as long as it could be to get the viewer acquainted with Miles.  I admittedly didn't know a whole lot about him beyond what Antonio and I talked about, so I was fascinated.  Plus the animation and the scenery combined with the soundtrack made me homesick. It was so much like 90's New York. 

DUY: When they fell in the middle of the street and he goes "Everyone just walk around. Thank you, New York." I turned to Zha and said "Yep, accurate."

Art by Bill Sienkewicz
SAMANTHA: Not all New Yorkers are like that, I swear.

KATHERINE:  I stand by my hypothesis, ya spoiled grump! I loved spending that early time with Miles and his family, I found him to be totally funny and endearing (especially all the “puberty” stuff!!), and I think we need to invest that time in our main character’s world for everything to work and pay off emotionally. If we start introducing so many characters too early (particularly old Peter, who could’ve easily taken over the whole thing if they hadn’t balanced things out just right), it doesn’t feel like Miles’ movie anymore. Plus we got Chris-Pine-Spidey right at the beginning to kick everything off, so I don’t know what you’re complaining about. 

BEN: This was a perfect launching pad to a new animated Spider-Man movie universe. No studio would (unfortunately) be brave enough to do a Miles or Gwen solo movie to start, but now you’ve established and set them all up to branch out into their own movies. It’s brilliant.

KATHERINE:  I think it still felt very much like Miles’ movie, he was the heart of the whole thing, he got the full origin story treatment and we were experiencing the other Spider-People from his POV. That kept the movie focused and emotional when it could’ve easily gone off the rails crazy telling too many stories of too many characters (*ahem* Spider-Man 3). But totally agree that this is the perfect launching pad (and was honestly probably also a testing ground since I’m sure they doubted if this could even work) to so many more fun stories! Sony did the impossible and got us excited about their Spidey future again! 

SAMANTHA: Are there plans for a live action Miles movie?

BEN: This movie does well enough, I’m sure there will be.

KATHERINE: He exists canonically in the MCU since they talked about him in Homecoming, so they must be planning for him in the long run! Maybe in a phase or two?

DUY: Does this mean Donald Glover will be the Prowler in the MCU?

BEN: From the moment I saw Uncle Aaron was in the movie, I went “oh, he’s the Prowler.”


BEN: When the first Peter Parker got hurt and he gave Miles the goober, I immediately thought “oh wow, they’re going to kill a Peter in this!”

DUY:  I know, somehow in all the marketing material and even with us knowing Miles' origin, they still pulled that one over on us.

BEN: I thought Nick Miller was doing a “hero” voice.

DUY: Yeah, I thought he was doing the Kevin Conroy thing. And then he showed up later and was full on Nick Miller.

BEN: On that note, we both thought Nick Miller would be a distraction, but he was perfect for fat slobby Spider-Man.

KATHERINE: I know!! I was like “wait.... why does that not sound like Nick? He sounds all cool.” The second time I watched it I was like “ohhh yeah, that’s why he sounded cool. That totally is Chris Pine.”

BEN: Steve Trevor dies again!

DUY: Chris Pine is the worst Chris anyway.

KATHERINE: And it means the Peter that died is the one that gave us the emo Spidey dance-walk! Good riddance then!!

DUY: I wish they just used their best Tobey impersonator and killed that guy instead.

BEN:  I did wonder if that was a subtle FU to the Raimi trilogy.

DUY: There are Sam Raimi fans who want the Raimi suit in the video game, and I just really hate that suit. That ugly, silver-embossed-lining suit.

BEN:  It's indefensible to prefer anything about the Raimi trilogy at this point.

DUY: I just really, really do not like Tobey and Kirsten.

BEN: I'm sure you appreciated the movie's subtle nod to Ben Reilly.

DUY: Wait, what?

BEN: Dude, the blonde hair.

DUY: Oh right, yeah. "Is that a lighting thing? Why does he look like Ben?"

KARA: LITERALLY THOUGHT THE SAME THING. Kat turned to me after the movie and was like "is there a blonde Peter Parker?" and I had to explain that it had to be a nod to Ben. Almost made me want to see a Kaine.

DUY: I'd have loved to see Ben in this movie.

BEN: Miles > Reilly.

DUY: I don't deny it.

BEN: One day you'll admit it.


SAMANTHA: I have two favorite moments. Miles' dad, in the distance as Miles nearly fell to Kingpin: "Get up, Spider-Man!" And the freeze frame when Miles took that leap/dive off of the building.

BEN: Completely agree! It’s weird because that was the first image and first scene we ever saw from the movie, but in the context of the movie, because it’s his leap of faith, it’s still such a beautiful moment even having already seen it.

KATHERINE: Totally! I remember seeing it in posters but still when it came to that part I gasped. Such a beautiful, inspiring shot.

BEN: Its unfortunate that we have to consider it courageous, but what Brian Michael Bendis and Marvel did by replacing (the Ultimate universe) Peter Parker with Miles was absolutely that. They decided to really do something different in the Ultimate line, and it worked so well they had no choice but to add him to the main universe.

DUY:  I've told the story before, when you and I did the Spider-Rama prologue, but Miles Morales is what firmly, completely cemented my position on diversity casting. He's the first legacy superhero of a different race than the original where I actually saw someone say that he's the superhero they've related to the most all their lives, and it made me realize, it's cool for superheroes to be diverse, obviously, but there really is something different about icons, especially Spider-Man, that just kind of makes him for everyone.

BEN: Like I said before, they hedged their bets by having Peter Parker in it, but this is definitely a Miles showcase, and I can’t imagine what that must feel like to see yourself in him on the big screen. Because he’s a normal American teenager too, so there’s a different relatability compared to Black Panther there.

DUY: I also loved seeing Spider-Gwen. Miles is the breakout superhero of the last ten years, followed probably by Kamala Khan. But for me it was two other people: Jane Foster Thor and Spider-Gwen. Something about seeing these two characters who were previously nothing more than love interests, and especially in the case of Gwen, The Girl Who Died, repurposed to have power of their own, to stand on their own, struck a deep chord in me. And also, seeing Jason Latour completely filmstruck every single time he saw an ad or poster that had his co-creation, Spider-Gwen, on it and gushing about it online was really refreshing.

Having said that, there is clearly an MJ slant in the movie, where both Peter Parkers are in love with Mary Jane, and Gwen at most has a Peter Parker as a best friend. I'm not the Gwen/Peter shipper that Ben is, but I did grow up thinking Gwen was Peter's true love, so the fact that Peter never even reacted to seeing Gwen did bug me. Having given it some thought now, I do think at this point that Gwen has more cache and power as Spider-Woman than as Peter's True Love Who Died. And I prefer it that way.

KATHERINE: I understand this gripe for a shipper, but I do think acknowledging that history would’ve been fan service potentially to the detriment of the story they were telling, which was already crowded with characters but totally focused. It seems like it would’ve introduced a weird love triangle element (not just between Peter-Gwen-MJ, but also between Peter-Gwen-Miles) that wasn’t necessary, and I appreciated that romance wasn’t a major part of this movie. It would also confuse Peter’s clear and simple growth arc, which should be about fixing his life back home and with MJ. Plus, not to mention the creep factor of having 36-year-old Peter looking at a 16-year-old Gwen with any kind of romantic nostalgia.

DUY: I get that, but come on, a "Whoa, this is too weird" from either of them is too much?

BEN: From Spider-Men:

MIGS: Great to see that they recreated that scene from Spider-Men. Almost shed some tears.

DUY: There's also this:

BEN: Parker's (one of Ben's sons) favorite was Noir.

DUY: While it is surreal to see both Miles and Gwen as main characters in a big film, I so think Spider-Man Noir stole the show. I expected Spider-Ham to steal the show. Fell short though.

BEN: He was fine. There's just not that much more to do with that past the initial gag.


DUY:  I love, love, love the animation. It's so new, so different. Stylistically, I give it a 10 out of 10. I love the incorporation of comic book panels and speech balloons, and making it look like it came from the printed page and jumped to life. I'm 10 minutes into the movie when I think, "Wow, this animation is amazing."

KATHERINE: Apparently a very key component to achieving that super graphic comic-come-to-life look was that Sony broke their normal feature animation pipeline and animated it on 2s. Such a subtle but brilliant decision that makes a big impact in making it look and feel so distinct.

DUY: What does animating on 2s mean?

KATHERINE: Basically Disney and nearly all big-budget features will be on 1s. Very smooth and clean. Going on 2s is usually a choice to save time and money, but in this case they did it to feel sharper, snappier, just a little more pose to pose like comic book panels. I don’t know that a regular moviegoer’s eye can perceive this and tell why it’s different (though the room full of animators I watched with could tell and were amazed) but on the gut level it feels different from other animated movies. People in the industry are talking about how they think this movie could change and revolutionize the whole animation game, because it somehow transcends the genre — in spite of being really stylized, a lot of people felt like they forgot it was an animated movie. Did you guys feel that way?

DUY: The staggered animation was throwing me off at the start, because I felt Spider-Man needed more dynamism. i forgot about that fairly quickly though. I kinda feel like if I were to say I forgot it was animated, it would be an insult to the animators...

KATHERINE: I don’t think that would be an insult to them if that was their intention to change the perception of the genre and animate the humans to feel very real. Like how VFX artists want you to forget that people can’t actually fly or that Iron Man isn’t just CGI. I feel like that’s a VFX motto for some jobs: if we do our jobs right, you won’t even know we were there. 

DUY: Doesn't it feel like the kind of movie that feels unique now, but stylistically will be built upon so much in the next 10 years that they'll forget about how unique it was?

KATHERINE:   I agree! Everyone will be trying to copy this! Spider-Man was the perfect property to use for it though, so definitely an example of material and medium finding the right intersection.

DUY:  My hypothetical: would some of the techniques they use in this one work in a live-action movie? Like what if they started using panels and thought balloons in a Deadpool movie? (Intentionally picking Deadpool as it would probably be the easiest transition.)

KARA: Whoa. I have no idea what it would be like to film a live action movie on 2s but it would create an interesting effect for sure. Thought bubble panels would be really easy to incorporate, and now that you've mentioned it I'm surprised they didn't do that in Deadpool... and I'm sure there's some post effect that can be done to make everything have that pop texture.  So in theory, a live action film could absolutely be dressed up to have a similar look to this, but the effectiveness of it would depend on the characters and the movie itself. I think it would 1000% work for Deadpool, but for others? Kinda hard to say. You do also have to consider that the text on every bubble may need to be translated into a lot of different languages for international releases, which can cost a pretty penny.. But that's also only if they decide that's necessary...

DUY: Also an advantage of animation: this is the only way you're going to see a moving, walking, talking version of Bill Sienkiewicz's Kingpin. Also, I kept changing Liev Schreiber's voice to Vincent D'Onofrio's in my head.

KATHERINE: If you want to nerd out over the animation, Cartoon Brew has a great article about all the different things they did.


SAMANTHA: Also, the Stan Lee cameo/tribute punched me hard in the feels.

DUY: The Stan Lee cameo and the Lee/Steve Ditko tribute at the end. I choked up, no lie. Something about seeing both their names in the credits, and remembering they both died this year. I almost lost it.

BEN: It’s weird to have such a great Spider-Man year with the video game and the movies, but lose the two guys that created him. But I was too much of a manly man to get choked up. (That's a lie.) Shut up, brain!  

KATHERINE:  The Stan Lee cameo was such a great combo of punching you right in the feels (“it always fits eventually”) then lightening it with some perfectly placed wit (panning to the sign that says “no refunds or returns ever”). Gave you some time to laugh and then cover up / wipe away that surprise tear.


DUY: My updated ranking of the Spider-Man movies: (1) Into the Spider-Verse, (2) Spider-Man: Homecoming, (3) Amazing Spider-Man, (4) Spider-Man 2, (5) Amazing Spider-Man 2, (6) Spider-Man, and (800) Spider-Man 3. That is not a typo. I really hate Spider-Man 3.

KARA: I think it's definitely the best Spider-Man movie, for me. As much as I love Homecoming, this beats it out. 

DUY: This may be the only Spider-Man movie I love top to bottom. I love aspects of all the other Spider-Man movies except for the abomination that is Spider-Man 3, but this is the only one I would say I love from beginning to end.

BEN: As far as Spider-Man movies rank, this is now the best. Number 2 is Homecoming, and the rest it doesn’t really matter.

DUY: In comparison to other animated movies, it might be the best non-Disney animated movie I've ever seen. Disney stuff is still the king. But it's already definitely the best animated Sony film I've ever seen.

KARA: I don't know if I can rank it in relation to other animated movies. That is a hard hard HARD call for me. I will say that since it's done some crazy breakthrough stuff so I rank it high.

BEN: I was listening to a podcast where they were speculating if this might beat Pixar out for the animated film Oscar.

DUY: It should, it's better than The Incredibles. I haven't seen Ralph Breaks the Internet, but I doubt it gives as much as this does.

BEN: For superhero movies this year, I go: (1) Infinity War, (2) Into the Spider-Verse, (3) Black Panther, (4) Deadpool 2, (5) Venom. Last: Ant-Man & the Wasp

LAMAR: Black Panther, Infinity War, and Spider-Verse were the only ones I saw that I can think of.

SAMANTHA: (1) Into the Spider-Verse, (2) Black Panther, (3) Incredibles 2, (4) Infinity War, (5) Deadpool 2.

MIGS: (1) Infinity War, (2) Into the Spider-verse, (3) Black Panther.

KATHERINE: Wow, it’s been a good year for superhero movies. I’d say: (1) Infinity War, (2) Into the Spider-verse, (3) Black Panther. Then I’m not really sure how to rank all these because I actually really liked them all, I just wouldn’t put them in my top 3. (4) Ant-man and the Wasp, (5) Incredibles 2, (6) Venom, (7) Deadpool 2. Oh and there’s Aquaman! TBD until I see that one this week!

LAMAR: Oh hell I saw all of this. What was I thinking?

KATHERINE: It’s been a long ass year. The fact that Black Panther came out just this year kind of blew my mind.

KARA: I think Infinity War sucker-punched me so that might still be top for this year, but Spider-Verse and Black Panther (was that just this year?! Geeeeeez) are tied in second for me. 

KATHERINE: This is all a hard call though because Spider-verse is so damn good and maybe in a vacuum it could rate higher than Infinity War, but I’ve been so emotionally invested in the MCU characters for years that I can’t be objective about it. The rush of giddy endorphins from hearing the Avengers theme when Cap steps out of the shadows is so involuntary that it almost feels like it’s coming from my reptile brain.

BEN: Yeah, it’s tough to compare Infinity War because it’s a cumulative effect from the previous movies.

SAMANTHA: I purposely put Infinity War lower because of how it made me feel in the moment (overall miserable) and, because of what you said (that I 1000% relate to), I'm not sure if I did the right thing.

BEN: You must turn in your Chris Evans Fan Club patch.

SAMANTHA: You can pry it from my cold dead hands!

KATHERINE: Oh for sure, it gave me PTSD and made me super depressed right after... but as a cinematic achievement and a culmination of 10 years, I felt like I’m not overly biased in giving it its due. Biased a little bit for sure because I’ll give anything an extra ten points for including Cap, but the Russo’s still did the impossible and took us on a hugely emotional journey with like 27 superheroes.

DUY:  I can't penalize Infinity War for being what it is, especially since if I think of the degree of difficulty balancing them all out, it's still probably the hardest movie to execute. But having said that, I think I actually still put Black Panther second. It's a tough call for me because I'm a sucker for exotic locations and getting to know other cultures (and LaMar wrote the Cube's best article of the year on it), but I'm also just a huge Spider-Man mark and I also love the science and art of animation. But I think I still go Panther second.

KATHERINE: That’s a really good year for superhero movies if the best Spider-Man movie ever is #3! 


DUY: I still have not read a Miles Morales comic. Should I change that?

BEN: The early Bendis years are good.

DUY: Maybe we should also recommend Spider-Verse. 

1 comment:

Kurbbsyde said...

Great round table guys. My boys and I went to it and the were at the edge of their seats with me. Noy kept asking when will Miles be a real person movie version. For me Cage totally owned being Noir. His campiness worked so well.

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