Well, I’ve been asking for animated superhero movies on the big screen and it looks like I’m getting it. Now I have to make sure I didn’t use a monkey’s paw to ask for it. First was the announcement of a second Incredibles movie and now we have Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, which will introduce the movie world to Miles Morales as Sony continues to dive into their Spider-Man corner license. Will it be any good? Well, we only have a teaser so we won’t learn much here. But I wouldn’t be posting this if I didn’t have some thoughts on the matter.
Now before you read anything I say I have zero problem with a Miles Morales Spider-Movie. He didn’t replace Peter Parker…at least in the main continuity because Marvel decided to do their own multiverse-ending story and attempt to be more confusing than DC when they did theirs. For the uninitiated, I mentioned the Ultimate Universe before, where Peter became Spider-Man, later died, and was replaced by Miles Morales, a black/latino kid who somehow got his own spider powers. (I really didn’t follow the Ultimate universe.) Then he ended up in the main Marvel universe because…well, that’s a long and lame story, but now he’s a second Spider-Man and a good character. He’s also popped up in the last two Spider-Man cartoons on Disney XD and as long as he’s working with Peter instead of replacing him I don’t have a problem with this. But being a good character doesn’t translate into a good movie. Let’s give this a look.
I have worries about the treatment here. Yeah, some of the visual stylings bothered me but for the most part it looks good. But what is the plot of this movie? From the official website as of this writing:
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street,” bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.
Thus far we only have the teaser. Not a full trailer; just the teaser. And when is this movie coming out? Oh, next Christmas. Okay, I originally read that as this Christmas, so they have a year to tell us more. Problem solved, right? Well…..no.
My first concern is the reaction that the first Spidey of color is being given an animated movie rather than a live-action one, possibly played by Donald Glover after that whole fiasco that I still believe led to Miles’ creation in the Ultimate universe, for better or worse. And we’ve seen Sony willing to play the sexism card with Ghostbusters reboot critics, so why not the race card with Miles, thus weaking his character potential in winning over the audience? I would maintain that not as may people know Miles, so this is how they chose to introduce him and…what is the concept here? Sony apparently wants to be the ones to get Miles out there as part of their stranglehold on Spidey, despite the (possibly temporary) deal to allow Spider-Man to finally play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so they went animated.
We don’t really know the plot right now so how this will play is not yet know. It could be like the Spider-Verse event involving numerous alternate realities, also seen in the “Web Warriors” season of Ultimate Spider-Man, and it does appear that this is the plan. Interesting since the current marketing is Miles but the actual story featured Peter Parker. This would mean that Sony is trying to do in theaters what Warner Animation and Marvel Animation have only done in home video: adapt a popular storyline in animation. The other idea follows the current Marvel’s Spider-Man, where Miles is already part of the universe and later gains his own spider-powers. Either would work although the latter would probably be easier for the audience.
But there is another problem with going animated that I see being a potential hazard and that’s Hollywood’s treatment of animation. Remember, in Hollywood you aren’t anything unless you’re a live-action theatrical movie. Any other media source or format is considered “lesser” unless it involves the Muppets. I’ve written about this problem before and there’s no reason to believe it’s going to be different now. It’s not just Hollywood as they’ve convinced the general public of this as well, despite animation being more accepted by the biggest demographic for superhero movies, comic fans and people who have grown up with anime and other cartoons and accept the medium as another way to tell a story. I’m just worried that this movie isn’t going to get the love that a live-action Spidey film would have gotten, especially one with Peter Parker, who is the one and only Spider-Man in peoples’ eyes thanks to the past cartoons, movies, and the one live-action TV series. It would be like doing a Superman movie with the black Superman of DC 52’s Earth-2. If this isn’t done right Miles is going to get the shaft.
I hope that’s not the case. I hope Sony approaches this movie just like they would if it was live-action. I hope we get a GOOD movie so we don’t have the same problem that Ghostbusters had, where they have to play politics to shut up people who honestly didn’t like the movie by making the sexists look like the norm rather than the extreme. (Just like in politics and political discussions outside of movies, but I digress.) I want this to be good. I want to see Miles win people over, and if this IS a Spider-Verse adaptation this would also go for Miguel O’Hara and the other not-Peter Spider-Men…and it better feature BOTH Japanese Spider-Men, because only the one with the giant robot gets any attention. (Look up the manga version…not the mangaverse one, the actual manga.) Given the history, I remain hopeful…but skeptical. It keeps me from being disappointed if it goes wrong but happy if it goes right.
Please go right. I want to see more animated superhero movies in the theaters. A bad one will scuttle those plans and I’ll have to hope the Incredibles can save the idea. But isn’t saving what superheroes do?