Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ★★★½

”Anyone can wear the mask. You can wear the mask. If you didn't know that before, I hope you do now.”

I had personally lost faith that we would ever see a decent Spider-Man standalone picture after the Marvel Studios took hold of the cinematic rights (at least for live-action adaptations). I thought that we were all doomed to see our favorite friendly neighbor be reduced to a money-grabbing formula that privileges exaggerated spectacle over character development. Superhero films dominate theaters, but you can sense that they are tired and soulless. Amidst an ocean of superhero flicks that all look alike comes “Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse” (2018) – a cinematic tornado that reinvents the superhero formula by returning to its comic book roots. Here is an outstanding example that shows that one can push the envelope further than imagined by taking inspiration in the past. Instead of having as models the recent live-action pictures, the three filmmakers behind this project chose to imprint a comic book identity into this cinematic adaptation. Ang Lee famously tried to preserve the comic book identity with his version of “Hulk” (2003), but as we all know that worked against him. However, the animated landscape proves to be, as one would expect, ideal to create that comic book sensation. The result is a film that explores the limits of animated filmmaking (it is hard to imagine the climax sequence outside the realm of animation) whilst putting character development in the foreground. Apart from the slightly awkward parallel versions of Spider-Man (they are introduced with tact but asides from hobo Peter Parker none have much substance) every character is immediately memorable and charismatic.