In an ideal world, everyone who makes animated features would watch this and realize how much more creativity is possible, and everyone who makes super-hero movies would watch this and realize how much more creativity is possible. It’s the tale of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a middle-schooler who gains his own unique spin on the Spider-man powers, then gets thrown into a battle with Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) as the criminal boss tries to open a doorway into alternate universes. That doorway introduces Miles to several other Spider-heroes, including Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), an alternate Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) and a fedora-clad Noir Spider-man (Nicolas Cage), and the weird makeshift team offers plenty of opportunity for knowing humor, along with riffs on the history of the Spider-man movies. But co-directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman go wonderfully nuts with their visual interpretation of this world, employing panels, text boxes and smash cuts in a love letter to the unique form of comic-book storytelling. It’s frisky, dazzling work on the foundation of solid character work—and it’s enough to make you forgive yet another Spider-man origin story.
Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman
Producer: Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Christina Steinberg, Stan Lee, Brian Bendis and Will Allegra
Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber and Chris Pine