It’s been quite the award-winning ride for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
The Golden Globe and Academy Award winner was not only the year’s best animated movie but also the best superhero movie of 2018. That’s a remarkable feat considering it went up against a couple billion-dollar hits from Marvel Studios — “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
“Spider-Verse” felt like a completely new experience in an era of superhero cinema that’s starting to get a little long in the tooth. It fully embraced the culture of protagonist Miles Morales and has given Sony — which didn’t completely give up on the Spider-Man brand after deciding to share the rights with Marvel Studios in live-action films — a legitimate reason to stick around in a genre it had appeared to lose touch with.
“Spider-Verse” is available on home video Tuesday (it has been available digitally since Feb. 26). Here are the best 10 moments on- and off-screen.
10. Arroz amarillo
“Spider-Verse” co-writer and co-producer Phil Lord was asked at the Oscars whether future “Spider-Verse” sequels could see Miles (Shameik Moore) explore more of his Puerto Rican identity. Lord mentioned his own Cuban heritage and its similarities to Puerto Rico as the guiding force in molding Miles for an authentic big-screen appearance.
Lord mentioned a poem by Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodríguez de Tió, which says “Cuba y Puerto Rico son de un pájaro las dos alas” — the two are like two wings on the same bird. That connection was apparent in “Spider-Verse’s” opening scene, as Miles rushes out to school in the morning but not before sneaking a spoonful of yellow rice.
As any Puerto Rican or Cuban will tell you, if there’s yellow rice cooking, waiting for it to cool down for a taste is next to impossible. This was Spider-Verse’s most authentic Latino moment.
9. The kicks
The Air Jordan 1 “Origin Story” shoes that Miles rocks during “Spider-Verse” go perfectly with his black-and-red Spider-Man suit. They’re also the type of fly kicks that will have many a sneakerhead overpaying on the market.
Good luck finding these at the retail price of $160.
Voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, Spider-Gwen represents just how far Sony can take this new animated Spider-Man universe. Not only are “Spider-Verse” sequels a given, but Spider-Gwen is also the type of character who is popular enough to branch out into her own movies.
That could pave the way for other female spider characters, such as Silk and Spider-Woman.
7. Se habla español
“Spider-Verse” didn’t shy away from Miles’s Puerto Rican roots. The son of an African American father and Puerto Rican mother, Miles begins speaking Spanish within seconds of being introduced on screen. Despite the hype surrounding his biracial background, that rarely happened in his comic-book adventures.
From “no se” to “claro que si,” “Spider-Verse” lets you know Miles is a proud Boricua. Having Miles’s mother, Rio, speak to him in Spanish and not add subtitles was another defining moment. Kudos to producers for shining a light on Afro-Latinos, who remain underrepresented in most entertainment geared toward Spanish speakers.
6. The voices
Every cast member provides top-notch vocals: Jake Johnson’s older, less-shaven and clearly-not-working-out-anymore Peter Parker is as exhausted as he is unmotivated. Moore plays Miles with the exuberance he must have felt when he landed the role. Nicolas Cage is convincing as a guy whose trench coat can flow in the wind, even when he’s indoors. Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Vélez are the loving parents who inspire Miles to greatness. John Mulaney’s Spider-Ham is filled with porky pride. Lily Tomlin’s Aunt May is the older relative who can help any Spider-Man from any universe if you can help her figure out online dating.
5. The death of Spider-Man
Miles made his Marvel Comics debut in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line after the death of that universe’s young Peter Parker — a plot point “Spider-Verse” doesn’t shy away from. The movie’s trailers gave us images of Miles being trained by an older, at the end of his rope Spider-Man. But it turned out Johnson wasn’t the Spider-Man of Miles’s universe.
The Spider-Man of Miles’s world (Chris Pine) is in his prime as a superhero, but he falls to the Kingpin as he tries to save the world. Despite the fact that it seems the one who dies isn’t “the” Spider-Man, the death has an emotional impact on every Spider-person, all of whom have had to deal with death in some way.
4. The Prowler
The film captured its most heartfelt moments with its most terrifying villain. The bond Miles has with his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali) is as strong as it gets, which makes the moment Miles discovers that Aaron is the Kingpin’s top henchman, the Prowler, that much more intense. This leads to classic Spider-Man/uncle tragedy — a major turning point as Miles realizes he’s Spider-Man, whether he likes it or not.
3. The after-credits Spider-Man 2099 scene
“Spider-Verse” saved the biggest laugh for last by introducing the Spidey of the future and establishing Miguel O’Hara, the time-traveling Spider-Man of the year 2099, as a part of the Spider-Verse, while throwing him into the classic (and let’s face it, kind of awful) old-school Spider-Man animation. It became an all-time meme all over again.
2. And the Academy Award goes to …
“Spider-Verse” won perhaps the most well-deserved Oscar this year and was likely part of conversations among fans and critics, who thought it deserved consideration for best picture, as well. Beating out heavyweight legacy animation contenders such as “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” marked a special moment in animation, which was struggling to compete with the influx of live-action adaptations.
Now Sony Pictures Animation’s “Spider-Verse” franchise is just as much a part of the future of superhero cinema as anything coming from Marvel Studios or Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.
1. Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man
There was no finer moment in “Spider-Verse” than when Miles ascended to the mantle of Spider-Man. The scene was enhanced by one of the many incredible songs on the soundtrack, “What’s Up Danger,” the beats of which seemed connected to every one of his web-slinging moves.
As Miles leaped off a skyscraper, Peter Parker’s advice replayed in his head — reminding him that he’d never be 100 percent sure when he was ready to be Spider-Man: He’d just have to take a leap of faith. It’s one of the best cinematic superhero introductions ever.