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, Chris Pine and Natalie Morales