I don’t think it matters if you’ve watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse two, three, five, or ten times. There’s always another Easter egg, always another connection to recognize. And every watch is worth it! Into the Spider-Verse demonstrated some of the best and most monumental visual narration featured in the Marvel movies up to this day.
Even if you’re not planning on rewatching the whole movie, then please at least take a break to watch these three most important scenes, which will summarize Miles’s journey for you.
WARNING: Spoilers all over! Honestly if you haven’t watched the movie yet, what are you even waiting for???
Miles goes back to school
This is our introduction to Miles Morales’s backstory. Without a word of narration and in a staggeringly quick two minutes, we learn where he comes from and who he is. And we get the beginning seeds for all the references of the movie.
Miles, a budding creative
Right from the start, we learn that Miles loves art. We see him drawing on a label, using highlighters and ballpoints. He makes his art with anything he can get his hands on. Miles especially seems to like making art out of words. To some extent, his creative passion is nod to the stylized onomatopoeia words that appear throughout the movie, which in and of itself is an acknowledgement of comic book art.
Miles, a superhero-of-color
The next minute of this scene is what I consider to be one of the most important, especially in establishing Miles Morales as a SOC (superhero-of-color). We are drop-kicked into the morning hustle-and-bustle of his home, where Spanish and English weave in and out of the same conversations, sometimes the same sentence. I’m getting a little ahead of myself here… But we also meet all of the important people in Miles’s life: his mother, the nurse; his father, the cop; and a sliver of mention of his uncle Aaron.
As Miles heads off to school, rolling his suitcase down the street, the movie overlays reggaeton song “Familia” onto the scene, which is key. The song not only well incorporates Miles’s mixed heritage in being sung by both Anuel Aa and Nicki Minaj, but also has hauntingly foreshadowing lyrics for what’s to come:
Y en la familia no se falla, pero si te traicionan
No les das la espalda, tú lo ayuda’ y perdona’
La familia primero
(And in the family, there is no fail, but if they betray you, do not turn your back. Help them and forgive them. Family is first.)
Also, don’t think I’m not going to talk about how Miles exclaims “Contra!” when he trips on his shoelaces onto the street to be caught by his father. His curse is probably the cherry-on-top in establishing Miles’s identity, and I’m pretty sure any Puerto Rican familiar with frustration really felt Miles as he fell over.
Maybe there’s a dark irony tucked into the movie when we hear the police siren and think that Miles is getting in trouble with the police — only to find out that the policeman is his own father. Of course, on the car ride to his new school, we hear an exchange between Miles and his father about Spider-Man, which craftily incorporates the vigilante vs. the law discussion that almost always occurs in the Marvel universe.
Miles, a boy with imposter syndrome
The scene also shows us that Miles is a popular kid. As he walks through his neighborhood, a variety of people from different kinds of social circles say hi to him. He’s a well-adapted and comfortable around these peers — a stark contrast to when we see him step into his new boarding school Brooklyn Vision Academy.
This difference emphatically communicates how Miles doesn’t feel in place with his new school, evoking many of our own personal feelings when we don’t feel we haven’t deserved our place at the table. I think this is especially relatable for anyone who doesn’t see representation of their own identities or faces in higher education, and Miles clearly experiences imposter syndrome. The short argument Miles has with his dad about not being with “his people” at Brooklyn Middle illustrates the complexities in becoming the “privileged poor” (look up sociologist Anthony Abraham Jack’s work if you’re not familiar with the term!) and puts Miles in a hard place between not being grateful about his opportunity at a preparatory school and being overwhelmed by the need to do his best as a representative of “his people.”
Grieving Peter Parker
The next important scene in the movie were the minutes after Peter Parker’s death.
Alone… at least in this universe
Here, Miles is truly alone. He is by himself in taking up this new role as the next Spider-Man, a role that he honestly wasn’t ready to be thrust into. He didn’t ask for it and he wasn’t necessarily vying to be special either. It was really all a coincidence the spider had bitten him in the first place — he had just been making art with his uncle expressing his frustrations with expectations. He can’t tell his parents about it, he doesn’t have new friends at the new school, and even when he tries to contact his Uncle Aaron, he isn’t able to reach him.
He is incredibly by himself at the start of his journey — and probably one of the biggest turnarounds in the entire movie is when suddenly he realizes that there are many many more Spider-People out there beyond his own universe and dimension, each struggling through their own challenges in life.
Succeeding the perfect Spider-Man
Honestly, Peter Parker was the epitome of a perfect Spider-Man, and Miles was not ready to fill those large shoes. He doesn’t know what to do, and in fact, he tries at first. He starts by attempting to don the classic Spider-Man look, and not knowing where to go, he goes into a comic book/fan store to purchase a Spider-Man costume. While at the check-out line, he asks the clerk if there were any refunds for the costume, symbolic of whether there were any take-backs of the roles and responsibilities he’s been passed down. In Stan Lee’s voice, we’re told, “It always fits… eventually.” And while at the time, as the camera pans to the left to bring a ‘No returns or refunds’ sign, this is humorous, we all know in our heart that Miles Morales will also eventually fit into his role as Spider-Man.
He makes it to Peter Parker’s public funeral, where Mary Jane gives an inspiring and invigorating speech, with the end note that everyone has a Spider-Man inside of them and that everyone has their own unique special power to contribute to the world. This, we all know, is also the end message that Miles imparts to us at the very conclusion of the movie: “Anyone can wear the mask.”
Finding his special powers
Briefly encouraged, Miles sets out to learn how to be Spider-Man. But because there is no one to teach him, he has to learn himself, which he humorously does by flipping through a comic book about Spider-Man, a very meta-nod to the comic book industry.
He learns he has to take a leap off the building to discover his powers, but after chickening out the first time around, he attempts to jump off a second shorter building — only to fall straight down to the ground. Dejected, Miles visits Peter Parker’s grave, where he apologizes about not being able to live up to the expectations that Peter left him with, presenting a broken USB drive. This is one of Miles’s lowest points. But then just as Miles loses faith, he discovers his newfound ability to elicit electricity through the tips of his fingers — a unique power of his very own, just as Mary Jane had alluded to — quite literally for Miles.
Taking the leap of faith
I’ll be honest, these three minutes are the reason I watch this movie over and over again. There is sooooooo so much to unpack, as the entire movie strings itself together in this scene.
Miles is at his lowest point — tied to a chair in his own dorm room against his own will by other Spider-People. They don’t say it outright. But Miles knows he hasn’t proved himself an effective member of the team. and he knows as much as they do that he was best being left out of the fight. He can’t even open the door or say “I love you” back to his dad, who visits him at his dorm room to tell him about Uncle Aaron’s death. He says, “Whatever you chose to do, you’ll be great.”
No longer in a costume, but in a suit
And this, my friends, is the moment. His eyes electrify and the spark runs down his hands and he zaps himself out. His roommate startles awake after hearing the noise but upon seeing an empty room, goes back to sleep — which is when we learn Miles used his invisibility. He then runs to the tallest building he can find. We start to hear audio flashbacks from earlier in the movie overlayed on top:
- As his mother’s voice reminds him, “We never run from things,” we see Miles’ face reflect onto the glass case holding the Spider-Man suit. And unlike in the beginning of the movie, where in his perspective, his reflection doesn’t fit the suit — this time, his face reflects perfectly into the suit
- As he clasps the web shooters around his wrists, Aunt May comments, “They fit perfectly.” And you know what? They do, and it’s not like he’s backing out and asking if there was a refund.
He fits perfectly into his role, he realizes. When he puts his own customized Spider-Man outfit, he is no longer trying on a costume, but instead getting into his suit.
A turn of perspective
Miles comes to the edge of a building — the very same building he previously had not had the guts to jump from. Here, the music quiets down and Miles takes his leap of faith. Even as he pushes off the building, the glass underneath his fingers breaks; his fingers are still sticky, and so we know that even then, Miles is still nervous. This is a true leap of faith.
And then, most important and significant of all, as he falls from the top of the building on his way down, the camera flips so that rather than falling downwards, he is rising upwards.
His web shooters activate and they catch onto the edge of the building. And our beloved Miles is now swinging from building to building. He is having fun for the first time as Spider-Man. Everything seems to turn around after that. Even the onomatopoeia text of his AAAAAA (from his failed attempt off of a building) reverses directions to a WOOOOO going upwards.
Then finally, as he gracefully hops down one more building, visualizing where he needs to catch up with the rest of his teammates, we see a comic book featuring Miles Morales. This indicates that this movie up until now was his origin story.
Ugh. What a beautiful movie. But enough of my rambling, do us all a favor and watch it again!
To date, I don’t know anyone that is more obsessed about Into the Spider-Verse than I am. I’d geek out on this movie any time, any day. If you think you’re anywhere on my level, please tweet us @geekgalsco and me personally @czaw13.
Featured image credit: Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures Animation