“I promise not to reveal any movie secrets, so that everyone can enjoy the movie as much as I’m about to. And, if I do like the movie, I can talk about that. But I promise not to tell any Sony executives that I saw it. ”
At New York Comic Con’s Saturday morning panel for the highly anticipated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller led a 5,000-member audience in an oath of secrecy. After the packed auditorium collectively promised not to reveal anything they were about to see, the lights went dark and the never-before-seen first 35 minutes of Into the Spider-verse began.
It soon became apparent that this experimental Spider-Man exploration is anything but overhyped. Mirroring the high quality of its trailers, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a first act that screams “instant classic” and left every fan I spoke to wanting more.
Here’s everything you need to know about the surprise screening—including some minor and major spoilers. (Hey, man. Ask anyone who was there! I didn’t make Sony any promises.)
Warning: minor spoilers lie ahead.
Miles Morales is the Spider-Man our universe needs
The beginning of the film introduces us to Miles, the Morales family, Sony’s animated Brooklyn, as well as the tip of the iceberg on the shared Spider-verse—and all of it feels so right. From Miles’ adorable first day of school drop-off (featured in the trailer) to his Party City Spider-Man costume purchase, Sony’s Miles feels like the perfect representation of not only the beloved comic book character, but also of the heroes our stories need today.
Brian Tyree Henry and Lauren Vélez, the actors who voice Miles’ parents, expressed similar sentiments during the panel, emphasizing Miles’ representation of a quintessentially “good man.” Shameik Moore, the voice of Miles, also reflected on how important the existence of Miles Morales is to him and others who identify with Miles’ upbringing.
Simply put, if you’re looking for a Spider-Man to look up to, Into the Spider-Verse is where you’re going to find him… or her. We do have yet to see where Spider-Gwen is taking us.
The writing is tight and hilarious
The MCU has a little too often left its dialogue scripting to the last moment. In the case of Sony’s animated feature, however, that clearly won’t be a problem.
Aided by stunning animation (more on that later), Into the Spider-Verse champions fast-paced, side-splittingly funny dialogue throughout its first act. To wit, at one point, Peter Parker reflects on the not-so-amazing state of his life in a monologue that includes a meditation on seahorse marriages that’s destined to be cross-stitched onto a pillow. Similarly, Miles’ internal dialogue is a major highlight.
If the NYCC sneak preview writing quality carries throughout the film, audiences are in store for a perfectly-timed, laugh out loud hysterical super hero flick.
Oh, one more thing. Stan Lee’s cameo? It’s perfection.
They just showed us the first 35 minutes of Into the Spider-Verse and, folks. This movie is the real fucking deal.
— The Mothmeg vs NYCC (@rustypolished) October 6, 2018
The animation is as gorgeous as promised
Into the Spider-Verse trailers so far have earned positive responses for their visual style. But with abominations like Suicide Squad out there, audiences know all too well that you can’t judge a movie by its trailer.
Luckily, the first 35 minutes of Into the Spider-Verse seems to indicate we should not worry about the film delivering on its promise of beautiful rendering. Although a few portions of the film were unfinished at the time of screening, most visuals were already stunningly realized, bringing a classic comic book style to life and allowing the audience to “go through the experience in Miles’ shoes.”
The artists’ imagining of New York City in particular is next level gorgeous. Brooklyn is just one of many boroughs the film will explore and it does not disappoint. It is deeply reminiscent of IRL Brooklyn, but also somehow light years better. If I could move to that Brooklyn, I would.
What’s the key to this visual success? According to Miller, “I think the secret was that we didn’t tell [Sony] how bold of a visual approach we were gonna take until it was too late for them to change it.” Works for me!
We’re (almost) definitely getting more
Although Sony’s Venom trilogy may struggle to get off the ground following lackluster critical reception, Into the Spider-Verse should have no trouble getting the green light on future projects. The first 35 minutes has all of the hallmarks of a smash hit and, assuming the rest of the film doesn’t somehow manage a nosedive, you can bet audiences will leave wanting more—and that’s a double-edged sword according to its creators.
In Lord’s words, if Into the Spider-Verse does well in theaters, they’ll “be stuck making 38 Spider-Verse movies because there are so many possibilities.”
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.
The Kingpin (and his varsity-level henchmen) threaten Brooklyn
The casting of Liev Schreiber (as well as a brief appearance in the second trailer) made it clear that the fictional crime overlord The Kingpin would play a role in Into the Spider-Verse. The NYC sneak preview depicted just how big that role would be.
In this case, The Kingpin is quite literally a kingpin. Wielding control over the Green Goblin, The Prowler, and lots of other super villains, The Kingpin plays a crucial adversarial role in the film. The early screening firmly established him as the central antagonist (more on that later) and loosely explored his connection to the Alchemax corporation and its mysterious reactor, another key component of the Spider-Verse puzzle.
While he didn’t get a ton of screen time in the first 35 minutes, you can bet The Kingpin will be rocking plenty of villain monologues in the feature-length cut and taking center stage as Miles’ first big takedown, fingers crossed.
Gwen and Miles are definitely going to have a thing
Listen, I know rom-coms. Gwen and Miles had a hardcore meet cute in the preview. And that means we’ve got to be getting a full-blown romance between them somewhere in this Spider-Verse.
Here’s what went down. During Miles’ first day at a fancy private school he doesn’t want to attend, he comes late to class. He cracks a joke that is met with total silence and Gwen, another student at said fancy privacy school, offers him a pity laugh. The two sort of hit it off, but don’t fully interact until after Miles gets his powers. I won’t spoil their second encounter, but let’s just say… it explains Gwen’s undercut. And is phenomenally adorable.
This romance is already canon in the comic book world. Now, it’s just a matter of time until we see it on the big screen.
Peter Parker is dead
You read that right. Less than halfway into the movie, Peter Parker gets gruesomely crushed by The Kingpin following a battle against the Green Goblin… a fight Miles gets literally dragged into. The following scenes show New York City honoring the fallen hero, as well as Mary Jane delivering her husband’s eulogy. All of this is Infinity War-level heartbreaking and instantly raises the film’s stakes.
After witnessing Peter’s murder, Miles takes up the mantle of Spider-Man in his predecessor’s honor. However, when visiting Peter’s grave, Miles is surprised by… Peter? From another universe? And he’s 40 years old? How the universes connect was not explained in the film’s first chunk (not even Peter seems to fully know), but this miraculous reappearance is Miles’ (and our) first glimpse into this world(s)’s vast complexity.
Peter Parker is dead. Long live Peter Parker#spiderverse
— Anthony of the Sea (@AnthonyMarinBai) October 6, 2018
This movie cannot arrive fast enough
At the end of the preview, I swear the ecstatic audience would have taken the cast and crew hostage and demanded the rest of the movie—if the stage hadn’t been so well protected by security.
The sneak peek promised a phenomenal debut for Marvel icon Miles Morales and the first fully-realized big screen exploration of the Spider-Verse.
The only downside? We have to wait until December 14 for the full-length film to hit theaters. Well, at least in this universe. If only we could get to that one other Peter is from… I bet it’s already getting rave reviews there.