) It may not specifically say it in the title, but THIS Spiderman movie is AMAZING.

In a year packed with superhero films and sub-par animated outings, it’s tempting to dismiss “Into the Spider-Verse” as another Sony effort to hang onto Marvel’s Spiderman license.  Throw in a talking pig, two Peter Parkers, and Miles Morales(Shameik Moore) in the lead role, and the confusion begins to grow.  This movie, to borrow a quote from Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson), requires “a leap of faith.”

There are a million ways this movie could have gone wrong.  It’s never easy to tell a compelling multiple-universe-story, especially when tinkering with a beloved character.  Too often, animated features are targeted towards children and the script aims for the lowest common denominator.  Thankfully, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller understand both the lore and the audience for this film and deliver the best superhero film of the year.    It may not match “Avengers: Infinity War” in scale or budget, but the script is far sharper and doesnt rely on countless previous movies for its foundation.

Without getting into too much detail, the plot revolves around a machine Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) has built deep beneath the city streets.  When the trial run goes haywire, a fracture blends some of the multiple parallel universes together and the various “spidies” are drawn together.  We’re given very brief, and hilariously self-aware intros for each of these characters that focus on the differences in their worlds.  The movie knows that we’ve all know what happened to Uncle Ben and what comes with “great responsibilities.”  But instead of being throwaway details, these differences have very well written nuances to them.  In Spider-Gwen’s(Hailee Steinfeld) reality, she was able to save her father but was unable to save her best friend.  She never says who it was that she lost verbally, but visually the audience knows it was her version of Peter Parker.  It’s not till much later in the film that this detail has an impact as she tries to support another character who has is pining over someone they also lost.   The writing also, somehow, manages to make sense of the looney-toons-esque Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), anime-inspired futuristic Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and the melodramatic, monochromatic, Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage).

The creativity in the story carries directly into the animation.  While clearly CGI, each character and world has its own thematic style.   Miles Morales’ is subtly textured like a comic book, with out-of-focus objects employing a color shift effect reminiscent of classic comic books.  It’s impossible to describe it in words without seeing it in motion, but it’s absolutely gorgeous.  The other visual styles aren’t as intense, but equally engaging.

With a handful of other tentpole films coming out this month, “Into the Spider-Verse” seems to be the underdog, just like Peter Parker himself.   But remember, there are few things more exciting than witnessing just how Amazing an underdog is!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is currently rated at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and is in theaters now!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse