Anyone can wear the mask


Photo courtesy of creative commons

Kirkland Luther

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” is the latest installment in the Spider-Man movie franchise and has already solidified its place in superhero and cinema history with its aesthetically pleasing comic book – animation style, relatable story and inspiring messages.

The Sony Animation film was released worldwide on Dec. 14, 2018 and made $35 million opening weekend, falling short of its $90 million budget. However, the movie picked up momentum through word-of-mouth and shares online, and grossed $160 million since the time of this publication. The film’s release barely made the award season cut off and won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film. Die-hard Marvel fans and casual audiences attest to the film’s vibrant visuals and fresh-take on the seemingly over-saturated “origin story” market. Moreover, viewers praise  ‘Spider-verse’s’ central message that “anyone can wear the mask.”

The movie follows Miles Morales, a Brooklyn teenager who recently transferred to a private school per his parents, namely father’s, wishes. Miles feels conflicted with his current placement in life and struggles to find his identity looking namely toward his father, a police officer; and uncle, a somewhat mysterious individual with a criminal past. Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider while tagging – or spray painting – an abandoned subway station before witnessing a stand-off between Spider-Man and the film’s main antagonist, Kingpin.

Kingpin kills Spider-Man and a dimensional rift opens transporting five different “Spider-People” from alternate universes to Miles’ who must now take on the responsibility of Spider-Man. Miles learns to master his new abilities and saves Brooklyn with the help of the various iterations of Spider-Man: Peter B. Parker, Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham.

  The story of Miles Morales is a fresh take on the passé superhero origin story. Even though the film introduces and incorporates seven different iterations of the Spider-Man character, it is done incredibly tactfully and respectfully. The film knows that viewers are familiar with Peter Parker and how he got his powers, so the story deliberately spends less time with each iteration’s formation to focus on Miles. It can be inferred that this movie is a sort of ‘passing-of-the-torch” for the franchise to begin familiarizing audiences with the story of Miles Morales.

Another key component of the film is its medium: animation. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” is a computer animation marvel — so much so that Sony is in the midst of patenting the innovative technology used to create the film’s colorful comic-book style. The vibrant settings and characters move fluidly across the landscape and excite the viewers during the snappy, sharp action sequences. The movie incorporates numerous comic-book elements seen in the textures, backgrounds and environment itself. For example, a bagel hits a scientist in the face during a chase scene and “BAGEL!” flashes over the pursuer’s head in iconic comic-book fashion. Animation is wrongfully thought of as a medium exclusively for children, but this movie does everything it can to break those who still hold that idea.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is an important installment in the Spider-Man franchise with its message that “anyone can wear the mask.” Peter Parker has been the central figure of every Spider-Man movie and television series, thus making Miles Morales’ on-screen debut a landmark achievement for film. Morales’ Afro-Latino background is a highly praised component of his character as many people of the same background celebrate their representation through such a high profile and beloved superhero.

Miles’ age does not hinder his connection to the older audience either. The teenager’s struggle to find his place in the world is something many people can relate to during many stages of their lives. Miles admires Spider-Man and wants to carry the torch of his fallen hero but comes short when trying to initially master his abilities. Audiences relate to Miles’ internal conflict of living up to his idol and society’s expectations: While Miles possesses the abilities to be great, he lacks the confidence to take on a lead role. Similarly, many students finally get accepted to universities but don’t always know what they want to pursue; new hires start their jobs but may feel like they do not deserve the position.

People see someone doing something and think, “I can do that too. But how would I get there and how would I even be able to fill their shoes?” However, by taking a leap of faith, one can write their own version of a familiar story and wear the mask.


Pick up a comic-book themed copy of the PaisanoPlus March 5, 2019.