Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse bursts onto our screens, a vibrant kaleidoscope almost specifically designed to blow away superhero fatigue that I'm sure most cinema attendees are currently feeling.
The film centres on Miles Morales, a normal teenager living in a world where Spider-man is around to save the day. Yet soon he finds himself taking on the mantle, as a villain manages to pull several realities together, brining countless Spider-people who must team up and restore cosmic order.
An exemplary voice-cast bring warmth and wit to proceedings. It feels hard to pick apart this ensemble and elevate some over others, with there not a single weak-link in the cast and a number of cameos I won't ruin here. At the film's core are a trio of Spider-people who both bring a fragility and humour to their role. Shameik Moore makes an endearing Morales, at turns heartbreaking and then hilarious. Jake Johnson makes a fascinatingly washed-up Peter B. Parker, approachably pathetic. And Hailee Steinfeld is a spiky, likeable Spider-Gwen. The trio have a terrific chemistry together, with several of the film's highlights routed in their interactions.
There is a lot of the creative force of Lord and Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs,
But really the strength of this Spider-Man is the heart and humanity on display. It can often feel that the stakes in superhero films have become so huge and cosmic (hi, Avengers: Infinity War) as to be entirely detached from the audience. And certainly Spider-Verse's threat could lead to the collapse of space, time and infinite number of parallel universes. Yet the film is far more interested in the personal cost a hero must go through in their journey. All of the iterations of Spider-man the film presents feel the burden their role brings to them ("with greater power, comes great responsibility"). It is something that has steadily felt removed from the character as the franchise moved further and further from the Raimi heyday. To feel it again, after so long absent, is part of the endless charm that Spider-Verse has at its disposal.
In a year that has seen so many superhero movies Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse is a contender for the best of the lot. Gorgeously animated, often very funny, with moments that are deeply emotionally impactful. It takes a fatigued franchise and an over-represented hero and breathes new life into them. It's really that good.