This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Abi’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Where to begin...
When I found out we were having a Miles Morales movie, I was like “wow, cool.” I’d read his comics and found him a likeablr and potentially interesting character, especially in association with the characters around him (The exception being Ganke; he sucks). And then I heard that it was going to be animated. And Spider-Woman was going to be in it. And Spider-Ham. And...
And I started to get really excited. These past couple years have been really good Spider-Man years. 2018 alone gave us Infinity War, Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PS4, and Into the Spider-Verse. Before walking into this movie, I expected really great things.
And I got them.
Firstly, characters. I adore these characters. In particular, Peter B. and Miles’ relationship. Miles is learning how to become Spider-Manafter making a promise to his Earth’s Peter. Peter B. has almost forgotten what it’s like to be Spider-Man; his life is in ruins, and he is not using with responsibility. They both bounce off of each other and learn how to be Spider-Man, one for the first time and one again. The other Spider-people, while not being crucial to the plot, were refreshing. Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney as Spider Noir and Spider-Ham knocked it out of the ballpark, and I enjoyed seeing Gwen as “Gwanda” interact with Miles. Particularly when he first is experiencing his powers and attempts the shoulder touch. I choked on my popcorn during that scene from stifles laughter. If I died in that moment, I’d have been content with that being the last earlthy thing I’d seen. That’s a fact.
Prowler was a special treat. I knew he was going to be a pivotal part of this movie and spent the majority of the movie waiting for Aaron Davis to stop being Aaron Davis and reveal himself. Also — everyone needs to shut up and talk about the Prowler’s Theme. It was incredibly eerie and adrenaline-boosting at the same time. Every single time it played everyone in the theater started. It heralded not just an incredibly dangerous villain but also a threat against Miles personally. When reading the comics, I felt threatened by Aaron, but not as much as by this movie. In the book, it is presented as the two being close, but still cut off by the familial split. That being said, he was a threatening figure before even being seen as Prowler. Yet the Aaron in Spider-Verse is just a man trying to be the best uncle he can while also being a masked supervillain. He’s a threat because he doesn’t know that Miles is the kid he’s been sent to hunt down and kill. And that deciding moment when he finds out is everything. The entire theater was silent; all popcorn crunching had desisted. Every eye was on the screen. And I was half hearbroken because I thought that Prowler would actually go through with it and, like with his brother, cut ties with Miles as well. It happened in the book, and it would add some drama to an already stressful situation. But he didn’t even try to go through with it. And that was even better.
The best villains are ones personally connected to the hero; that’s always been apparent with Spider-Man. Such is the case with Otto Octavia’s, Harry Osborne, Curt Connors, Felicia Hardy, Max Dillon, and Eddie Brock/Flash Thompson. You not only know them as the people Spider-Man has fought (Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, The Lizard, Black Cat, Electro, and Venom) but also the people Peter has been associated and often friends with. The emotional toll it can take on the hero involved is both interesting to watch and works as a motivator for the hero (Miles) to stop their villain: Kingpin and Prowler.
Spider-Man loses people. Uncle Ben, Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, Aunt May. Despite that, he keeps fighting and getting back up again. One of his superpowers is the ability to never give up, even under opposition. So for Miles Morales to lose Aaron Davis made sense. I didn’t particularly like it; I wanted more interactions and screen time with Prowler. But it made sense. Losing his uncle made him realize that he still had many other people in his life that he then had to fight to protect.
I could spew on and on about this movie (I’ve watched it twice and then ranted about it to the people I saw it with). I could go into depth of Kingpin and how his motivations were actually interesting and beyond the range of: “I will destroy this reality and everyone you love, Spider-Man! MWAHAHAHAHA!” I could talk about the beautiful animation and the absolutely jaw-dropping scene when Miles becomes Spider-Man and drops into the city, taking a leap of faith. I could type and type and type until whoever has the time to read this much text is bored with me (if they aren’t already), but I just want to say this.
I had Great Expectations for this film. And it succeeded my Expectations.
10/10 will watch again.