This article contains no major spoilers—but if you’re concerned, wait until you see the film to read this.
It’s not uncommon for fans to see exclusive clips and trailers at major conventions, but at New York Comic Con, fans got their biggest look at Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse yet—a screening of the first 35 minutes of the film.
The reveal arrived early in the panel for Into the Spider-Verse as producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) arrived on stage. They wanted to show off new clips for the fans who were there for the panel, but they found it difficult to pick clips without the context of what came before it. So, after making the audience swear that they wouldn’t tell Sony executives that they were about to see the footage—some of the graphics and audio were still being worked on—or spoil what they had seen, they started to play the film.
(Shameik Moore, who voices Miles Morales, ended up letting a big spoiler slip by accident during the post-screening Q&A, which was live-streamed.)
The audience was instantly on board from the start, and the excitement was infectious. Although fans knew that they wouldn’t be able to see the entire film, there was an audible groan anyway as the screen cut to black.
The footage had a lot of promise (Lord and Miller let the audience know ahead of time that not all of the animation for it was complete), and even as someone who isn’t the world’s biggest Spider-Man fan, it easily won me over. The only downside? We now have to wait until December to see the rest.
It handles Peter Parker’s introduction perfectly
Look, we all know Peter Parker’s origin story: the spider bite, Uncle Ben’s famous quote about power and responsibility, Uncle Ben’s death, and Peter’s self-taught path to becoming the superhero we know him to be. It’s not a story pummeled to death as much as the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents on-screen, but we know it. (The fact that the MCU didn’t give us an origin story was one of the many refreshing things about Tom Holland’s take on Peter Parker.)
So yes, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does give us a refresher because there may be some viewers unfamiliar with his origin story, but it spends as little time as possible on it because even Peter Parker knows that most of us already know. It’s quick, especially self-referential to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and incredibly funny.
But don’t be mistaken: this is Miles Morales’ story
After the screening, Lord and Miller said that when Sony approached them about doing an animated Spider-Man movie, they wouldn’t agree to sign on unless it was a Miles Morales story. In part, it’s because we haven’t seen that on the big screen before. And it’s a shame that we haven’t.
We’re quickly introduced to Miles Morales (who was created by Brian Michael Bendis in 2011), the Black-Latino teenager who becomes Spider-Man in his own right. He’s got a loving family, even if they tend to embarrass him from time to time; the full scene of Miles’ dad Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry) using his police car microphone to get Miles to say that he loves him back that we’ve seen in trailers is a delight. His mother Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez) is kind and supportive, a fitting foil to Jefferson’s sometimes tougher approach.
Miles is also close to his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who sometimes operates on the other side of the law, even if Jefferson doesn’t exactly approve. Miles feels like a fish out of water in his new private school, something that only gets more complicated over time as he meets new characters and faces new situations. If you’ve read Bendis’ Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man run, you’ll likely be familiar with some of it. There’s even a bit of déjà vu at one point.
We spend plenty of time in Miles’ head, which sells him even further. He might be awkward or successfully playing it cool, but at times, he has the same reactions any of us would to what happens around him. And although Peter Parker is part of Miles’ story in Into the Spider-Verse, it works great even when he isn’t.
Into the Spider-Verse introduces a realistic and lived-in Brooklyn
The key to setting up any fictional superhero world—whether it’s in the real world as many of Marvel’s stories tend to be or a made-up city in DC Comics’ universe—is all in the details. When those cities exist, they might lend themselves to a more cartoonish depiction compared to the real thing, like the Hell’s Kitchen of Marvel’s Netflix array.
Miles Morales’ Brooklyn has a bit of both. It’s modern, and while we see some of the borough’s underbelly, Miles’ new school stands out from the neighborhood and even includes hints of gentrification. There’s no denying it though: For Miles, Brooklyn is home.
The color pops—especially once it leaps off the page
One of the biggest reactions from the trailers has been the visuals themselves, and viewing it on a bigger screen than what our computers or smartphones allow, they’re even more stunning. At a certain point, it starts to feel like it’s coming straight out of a comic book in the best way; even the shading in some scenes starts to look that way. Once we start to see more distinctive character tones, it’s likely to stand out even more.
But even before that, one thing that makes Into the Spider-Verse stand out is how colorful it is. Both the heroes and villains don bright costumes—one scene includes an influx of color into a dark space to liven it up—and it’s even present in more mundane settings like Miles’ school.
It’s a kind of movie we’ve never really seen before, and one that might not have been possible to make in live-action, at least visually. But when it swings in for real, it’s gonna explode.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arrives in theaters Dec. 14.