Culture Magazine

A Quick Note: "Into the Spider-Verse"

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
I went to see it last night. It was a lot of fun. A.O. Scott in the NYTimes:
My point here is that this animated reworking of the Spidey mythos is fresh and exhilarating in a way that very few of its live-action counterparts — including the last couple of “Spider-Man” chapters — have been. Its jaunty, brightly colored inventiveness and its kid-in-the-candy-store appetite for pop culture ephemera give “Into the Spider-Verse” some of the kick of the first “Lego Movie.”
OK.
It's that "brightly colored inventiveness" that grabbed me, the look of the film. Make that "looks", plural. There are bright colors, lots of them, of the sorts one sees in crayons and Lifesavers. But we also see textures from comic books, Ben Day dots, not to mention complete pages and covers flashing by. There are any number of sequences that could have come from 1960s & 1970s psychedelia, perhaps as transmuted through comics. And the whole thing has a kind of joyful self-consciousness about it.
Something I wrote a decade ago, a review of the anime series Samurai Champloo, seems relevant:
Samurai Champloo thus goes beyond subverting postmodern interventions into culture, identity, anti-hegemonic subalterns, and so forth. Watanabe renders such critical expostulation irrelevant, not by ignoring the various systems his protagonists must negotiate, but by recognizing that their imaginative agency is ultimately more powerful than those systems.
Into the Spider-Verse felt like that.
Even on the issue of identity. Samurai Champloo played on the issue of national identity. It was set at a time in Japan when national identity as we know it didn't exist, but has anachronistic intrusions from baseball and Andy Warholl. Into the Spider-Verse played on contemporary discussions of racial and ethnic identity by introducing a Latino Spidey without comment and giving him a variety of companion Spikeys from other universes (thus the Spider-Verse), including other cartoon/comic worlds (anime, funny animal comics). At one point the funny-animal pig even asked "Do animals talk in this universe"? This is all obvious and upfront.
It's just, you know, the world.

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