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Spider-man

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse

Sony is kind of in a weird place with it’s Spider-Man license.  They are working on their third reboot of the series, which is not tied to the MCU which they don’t really own any stake in.  So they have a pretty decent and successful Spider-Man series going now, but it’s technically part of a universe they can’t fully touch.  Take the recent Venom movie, for example.  Venom is pretty tied to Spider-Man, but this new movie itn’t part of the MCU, so that gets a little tricky.

Maybe they don’t really care a lot about continuity.

Maybe they also have just made a bold move that let’s the nor really care about continuity, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.

Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastically animated color fest that does a pretty good job of giving us an Origin story, while also giving us a developed world that lets everything sort of speed along without being yet another slow burn Spider-Man origin.  In fact the movie repeatedly pokes fun at the idea of yet another Origin Story, and how everyone already knows the origin on Spider-Man.  It’s an enjoyable film and I look forward to the eventual sequel and likely spin-offs.

Spoiler Free Thoughts

So, I had an idea of what to expect going into this movie, but I wasn’t super sure it would be that great.  I honestly kind of skip most of the animated comics based stuff these days, more for lack of time than anything.  I kind of worried this was joust going to feel like something that should have been a TV Special or straight to Blu-Ray sort of deal.  Considering how few films I actually see in a theater, that I went at all says something I suppose.

The basic plot follows the origin story of Miles Morales becoming Spider-Man.  It’s not quite the same as his comics origins but it shares some similarities.  So, you might be wondering why there is a Black Spider-man named Miles, he is not new to the Marvel Universe for this film at all.  This isn’t meant to be a detailed run down, but to sort of give you an idea.

Back in the early 2000s, Marvel created the Ultimate Universe.  This was essentially a new Marvel continuity where everything was darker and grittier and the Avengers were known as The Ultimates.  In 2011, Miles Morales was introduced as a new character who was also bitten by a radioactive spider.  Shortly afterwards, Peter Parker of the Ultimate universe was killed and Miles Morales too up the Spider-Man mantel in the Ultimate Universe.  Cut to more recent times, during Marvel’s Secret Wars event.  Basically, Marvel wanted to combine all of it’s various continuities into one continuity to trim the fat off things a bit and simplify everything.  So Secret Wars saw the Ultimate Universe crossing over with the main Earth-616 Continuity.   They used this plot to kill off some versions of heroes, and revive others by replacing them with their dimensional counterparts and just in general slim things down.  Miles Morales Spider-Man however, had become pretty popular, so he was spared and became part of the main Marvel continuity.

There is a lot more to it of course but I’m not really here to give a full history of Marvel Comics.  The real fun of the movie comes from “The Spider-Verse”, and the overall fairly tongue in cheek way it handles itself.  Early in the film, the plot is revealed involving Kingpin trying to open a gateway to other dimensions.  This rift causes several other Spider-folks to cross over into Miles’ world.  Miles being new to the job, gets some help and grief from these other Spider-people and of course, learns to be his own brand of Spider-Man.  We also get a brief history of each of the various other Spideys through little cut away story sequences, though for the most part, three of them are a pretty throw away part of the story.

So, the three throw away Spideys consist of: Spider-Man Noir, a Spider-Man from a 30s world who is a detective and lives in a black and white world; Spider-Ham, a Looney Tunes style anthropomorphic pig complete with Subspace hammers and random anvils; and SP//DR, a futuristic Anime girl who pilots a Spider-Man sort of robot.  These three pretty much exist as comic relief characters once they arrive.  Of the 6 main Spiders, they are probably the most one off anyway.

Most of the story revolves around Miles Morales, Peter Parker, and Gwen Stacey, and mostly Miles Morales and Peter Parker, as Peter shows Miles the ropes of being Spider-Man.  This particular Peter is a little washed up though, so Gwen gives a lot of later pointers and help to both.  I should add, this isn’t really like some training montage of teaching, it’s much more of a trial by fire sort of deal, as Peter and Gwen must work to get control of the dimensional gateway to get back to their own respective universes. 

There are a ton of references to all sort of Spidey things outside the actual Spideys.  Nods to things like the Tobey Maguire movies, several Spider-Man Memes from the old 60s cartoon, the comics themselves make an several appearances as part of the plot.  The whole thing feels very aware of itself while never really acknowledging itself.  It makes for a lot of great jokes and moments. 

It’s also really visually interesting.  It feels like a comic in motion.  Everything is very bright and colorful, and everything looks nice and smooth.  It’s a really great effect that would have never worked in a live action film.  I also like how the different Spideys are different styles as a not to their different universes.  SP//DR looks like an anime cartoon, Spider-Ham looks like a Looney Tunes cartoon, even a brief shot of Spider-Woman in her own world has a differently styled background that more matches what the Spider-Gwen comic looks like.

Spoilery Thoughts

So moving on to a little more actual detail.  I have to say, I really enjoyed the villains.  Granted, they were fairly throw away in the case of Scorpion and Tombstone and Goblin, Prowler and Doc Ock were both pretty cool.   I don’t know if lady Octavius appears in any comics, though I suspect she does, it was a twist I didn’t see coming since I wasn’t familiar with the source material.  While we’re on the subject of twists, I also didn’t know about the Prowler thing, though when it was being set up, it felt really obvious.  Prowler overall really shines and feels pretty menacing.  I really liked all of his moments and it’s a shame he didn’t get more screen time.

Then there’s Kingpin.  I, kind of hated Kingpin.   I have just come off of wrapping up Daredevil on Netflix, I definitely never expected Kingpin to be Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, but this Kingpin was so outlandishly cartoonish, I found him a little hard to take seriously.  Don’t get me wrong, every character in this is highly stylized, but Kingpin’s microscopic head and massive body is outlandish even by the stylization of this universe.  His design felt more out of place than Penny Parker, who was literally designed like a 2D anime girl.

I also really enjoyed the contrasting Peter Parkers.  Peter from Miles’ universe is basically peak Spider-Man.  Getting to see him in action was also great, because he’s just full on Spider-Man.  No dark angst or worry and conflict, just Spidey being Spidey.  Then we get to meet Midlife Crisis Spider-Man, commonly called Fat Spider-Man.   There is so much nuance going on here that work so well.  He’s out of shape and doesn’t really care, but when it counts, he still just does what he does.  He’s been in the game long enough that everything is second nature, but he also has been doing it long enough he’s kind of become jaded and apathetic.

Then there’s Spider-Woman who sort of contrasts between Miles and Peter (Fat Peter, amazing Peter dies early on).  She is still kind of a rookie at being Spider-Woman, but she is driven and confident in her abilities.  I also particularly liked how both Peter and Gwen basically just accepted everything, because they have already been through plenty.

This does bring up some bits that almost felt like they should have been addressed.  Maybe a director’s cut could add them, and maybe they got dropped because the writer’s didn’t want to complicate things.  Maybe it wasn’t addressed because it would be kind of creepy since Fat Peter is like 40 and Gwen Stacy is something like 15 or 16.  Basically, Peter and Gwen never really acknowledge their relationships with their alternate selves.  There is a sub plot involving Fat Spider-Man and the alternate Mary-Jane Watson too, so it’s not completely off the table.  Gwen mentions that she couldn’t save her friend, spoiler, Spider Gwen basically killed her Peter while he was The Lizard, but doesn’t really seem weirded out by meeting an older version of her dead friend.  Meanwhile we get no history from Peter and any Gwen Stacy he may have known.  Gwen Stacy dying is kind of a big moment for some versions of Spider-Man. 

Otherwise, I really have no real complaints about the movie.  It does a great job of just rolling with everything and assuming we either already know or can figure it out.  The crossover mix nature of the plot is great too because it keeps the origin story of Miles Morales from being being, because we get several experienced and capable Spideys to watch instead.  I almost wish they would do a Spider-Gwen movie now, because I really enjoy that book and enjoyed her presence in the movie.  There is a post credits scene that sets up more cross universe shenanigans so I’m sure the sequel will bring her back.  Hopefully it will give us more Midlife Crisis Spider-Man too.

Weekly Wednesday Haul – The Vulture Edition

With the house bought and the move done, I can get back to my normal excessive waste of money each week.  Though I’m still kind of down a bit since I unexpectedly had to replace my phone.  I will probably write more about that on [Blogging Intensifies] in the future but I’ve replaced my Nokia 635 Windows hone with a Motorola G5+ Android device.

On the toys front, Wal-Mart has marked down all of those lingering Doctor Strange and Spiderman figures from $15 clearance to $9 clearance.  At $9, that’s less than I’d be paying on ebay for Build a Figure pieces to put together Vulture’s wings, and I get a bonus figure, so I picked up all of them that I could find.  I still have not seen Moon Knight, which sucks because he is the only one outside of Vulture that I wanted from the wave.  I did order his BAF piece off of ebay though, so I’m covered there.  No sign of Homeade Suit Spidey for $9 though, so I am still one piece short of those glorious wings.

I like Beetle more than expected but the rest are pretty meh.  I don’t need the Spiderman at all since I really want the two pack version with the unmasked head and the new Iron Man armor.  I’m seriously considering repainting Cosmis Spiderman into William Riker, though he would be a really buff looking Riker.  Tombstone is alright for a generic dude.

 

Tuesday Trailer – Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man is getting another reboot!

Yay?

This version of Spider-Man is actually tied into the whole MCU however.  In fact, he has already made his debut during Captain America 3: Avengers Jr.  Honestly I’m a little saddened by the third reboot in so many years, especially with how The Amazing Spider-man 2 ended on such a downer cliffhanger.   Also, maybe Im just getting old, but this Spider-Man seems really really young.

I do like the little Avengers reference there with the robbers at the start.  And to help solidify things from Civil War it seems like there will be a bit of an Iron Man Cameo.  SPeaking of that Iron Man Cameo, there’s that awkward hug moment.  There was a scene in one of the Iron Man movies where Tony mentions that he doesn’t like to be handed things.  I believe there were a few other moments pointing out that Tony doesn’t like close contact, shaking hands etc.  I’ve heard this is also a legitimate thing with Robert Downy Jr in general as well as a thing for Tony (now).  Which makes the hug moment kind of interesting, since a hug is pretty much the opposite of Tony’s established hang ups.

Also, Tony is clearly taking up the role of the non existent Uncle Ben role, so that pretty much means Tony will get shot by a mugger early on in the film.  I’m actually kind of curious if they will bother at all with any sort of “origin”.  This Spider-Man is established now from Civil War, the MCU doesn’t really big on going backwards in time at all, and frankly, we’ve seen Peter get bit by a radioactive spider many times now.  We get the idea.

Then there is the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton.  I really hope there is a Batman and Birdman joke in there somewhere, since it’s so obvious.  Vulture seems like a good idea for a villain, he was Spider-man’s original villain in the first issue, he’s small scale enough not to attract the need for larger heroes, and he hasn’t been used yet in any of the previous Spider-Man movies.

Interestingly, no sign of Gwen Stacy or Mary-Jane Watson, or even J. Jameson, at least not in IMDB, though there’s a few people without characters and previous news suggests Zendaya is playing Mary Jane, except she’s listed as Michelle on IMDB.  Instead it seems like we’re getting Liz Allen and Betty Brant.  Hopefully we can avoid yet another version of the whole Bridge and Gwen neck breaking event from the comics.  Oops, spoilers.