Sony and Spider-Man have had a rocky relationship over the years. Despite 2002’s Spider-Man setting box office records as one of the films that really blew open the superhero blockbuster genre, and Spider-Man 2 arguably being the best film of any of the modern superhero fare, things have gone precipitously downhill since then. Spider-Man 3 was marred by studio interference that saw Sam Raimi leave the franchise, and the two Andrew Garfield-led films did nothing to move the needle other than allow Sony to make sure they held onto the wall crawler’s rights. Attempts to launch their own cinematic universe died on the vine, and before long they came to Marvel Studios, tail between legs, and struck a deal to bring him into the MCU with Captain America: Civil War. They kept the rights, but Marvel got the control. It seemed like everything was settled.
But apparently that wasn’t enough for Sony, who continued to develop Spider-Man and Spider-Man-related properties outside of the Tom Holland films. First came Venom, a movie utterly derided by critics but surprisingly successful at the box office. Venom made no mention of Spidey, so you would think Sony would specifically stay away from using that character on their own, but it seems they had the exact opposite idea. Why have only one Spider-Man when you can have seven? Thus, the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was born.
The star of this film is Miles Morales (Shameik Moore, of Dope fame), a young kid from Brooklyn attending a charter school for gifted students at the behest of his police officer father (Brian Tyree Henry), though he identifies far more with his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali). As is inevitably the case, Miles has a run-in with a radioactive spider and soon develops similar powers to Spider-Man (Chris Pine). During a run-in with the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber, with a wonderfully blocky character design) that Miles watches from afar, Spider-Man discovers a particle accelerator the Kingpin is using to delve into an alternate universe in order to be reunited with his deceased wife and son. Despite his best efforts, Spider-Man is defeated. But the accelerator was in operation long enough to pull an alternate universe Spider-Man, Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), into Miles’ world. As a schlubby, middle-aged and disillusioned version of the hero, he’s not exactly the best role model for the young Miles, but they know that they need to stop the Kingpin before he tries to run the accelerator again and threatens to destroy the world as they know it. Soon enough, they discover more Spider-People made it through the time-space rift, including Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Japanese-American future Spider-Woman Peri Parker (Kimiko Glenn), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) and Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld). Though Miles struggles with his powers and his ability to be a hero, they’ll all have to come together to stop Kingpin and return to their own dimensions.