MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
I know what you’re thinking because that’s what I was thinking. Do we really need another Spider-Man movie? Do we need an animated Spider-Man movie? Do we need another superhero origin story?
The creative team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is well aware of these objections and is smart enough to make sure that this movie takes care of those questions as it tells its story about Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a young teenager from Brooklyn who gets bitten by a radioactive spider as the prelude to becoming a new Spider-Man.
Does the world need a new Spider-Man? As this film’s story begins, the answer is a definite “Yes” because Peter Parker’s (Chris Pine) days are numbered; when he’s out of the picture, another Spider-Man has to be created to avenge his passing.
But Miles knows nothing about being Spider-Man (other than what he’s read in comic books and seen in movies). Fortunately, there are parallel worlds that also have their own versions of Spider-Man. The first one to come to Miles’ aid is Peter B. Parker from Queens (Jake Johnson), an older superhero who is a bit out of shape and wondering if his life still has purpose; he will discover that it does as he mentors Miles.
This training has to happen fast because the evil Kingpin (Live Schreiber) has plans to destroy the universe with a massive collider. But these two will not be alone in their efforts to save not only our world, but the many parallel worlds in which distinctive Spider-Men exist. These include Gwen Stacey/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Noir (Nicholas Cage), Anime Spider-Woman Penni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and Animated Spider-Pig Peter Porker (John Mulaney).
As the story progresses we will also encounter familiar characters include Peter Parker’s Aunt May (Lili Tomlin), his girlfriend Mary Jane (Zoë Kravitz) and a rogue’s gallery of villains including Doc Ock (Kathryn Hahn), Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone).
In addition, we will learn the origin story of each Spider-Person (all involving loss and grief) and see the value of family – both biological and community-based – as Miles finds support and strength as he grows into adult responsibilities.
It sounds like a lot to cram into one film – and it is – but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is filled with stunning animation (resembling what you might imagine while reading a comic book) and much great humor.One of the Big Questions that often comes up in conversation with Christians is “If there is intelligent life on other planets, would there be a Christ for them?” Another Big Question: “How can a group of diverse people become a community?” I never would expect an animated film to ponder these queries in such a creative way, but this movie does the job. To quote the great Stan Lee: “Nuff said!”
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: A free-wheeling family-friendly film that affirms diversity, teamwork and self-esteem.
One pitchfork: Cartoon violence; a couple of off-screen deaths.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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