Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is an animated movie starring Miles Morales, a teenager coming to terms with his artistic identity as well as unexpectedly becoming Spiderman. The movie is a clear celebration of the diverse forms Spiderman has undertaken previously as well as new original characters, all engaging with both new and old representation styles. The movie introduces new characters and engages with a new unexplored level of detailing. Moreover, the movie is an example of thorough stylistic exploration for architects and designers. The movie showcases stunning visual effects and highlights the importance of experimentation in design. 

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An Architectural Review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Sheet1
Stunning visuals of the movie. ©Sony

Experimentation 

Upon watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the different styles of presentation is evident to the audience. The change of atmosphere becomes evident through either the style or lighting presented in the film. The background is pushed towards the foreground by simple frames. The most notable shifts occur when the style of drawing changes, often drastically. The animators used this to present different emotions that Miles was experiencing. The frame could change from heavily rendered scenes to hand-drawn sketches. It is this experimentation of different styles that makes the story more engaging and allows for depth when the action starts to take place. 

The movie becomes a substantial precedent that challenges your assumption of how mixed media can be consumed. Style experimentation is key for architects as renders and drawings can help shape the narrative of our designs. Rather than sticking to a particular rendering style, experimenting with how people will view your designs is key. Moreover, this merging can help similarly engage your audience as the movie has done. The movie has moments where unexpected revelations made by the character are also followed by an unexpected feature of the movie. This creates parallels between the storyline and scenes. 

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An Architectural Review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Sheet2
Onomatopoeia appears reflecting the comic books. ©Sony

Narrative 

The narrative around the main character and plot is well executed by increasing and slowing the pace of the frames. Allowing frames to linger gives the audience moments to take in detailed images rather than fast-moving scenes. This also pushes a continuation towards the original comic book style. One example of excellent use of restraints is when characters’ backstories were revealed. Instead of simply engaging with the backstories by providing a short video introduction, Sony provided the audience with multiple frames which reveal a rich history each character had. It is a simple way to reduce the amount of time used to introduce secondary characters, keeping the film within its time limit.

As mentioned previously, the animators made use of the classic comic book style of borders and bold text to show speech, to weave together new and old elements. Using old styles within this new format sparks curiosity. Mixing this new technology to create high-quality films with hand sketches develops a unique character. The overall visual has a greater impact than it could have achieved using only one of these styles. Designs become stronger by using precedents from the past and can develop a greater impact overall.

An Architectural Review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Sheet3
Frames that have been used to show the past activity of Spiderman. © Sony

Characters

The movie emphasises building the world around their main character, Miles. Since Miles’ passion for art has been made prominent, the world created for him follows a similar route. Rather than developing a world and assuming how the world would form around the characters, the movie leans into teaching us about his way of thinking.

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Forming an understanding of how the world revolves around the characters and themes of the movie, make the world more compelling. When the characters and the world are not well balanced, it becomes evident to the viewer as clashes occur frequently. 

Additionally, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse presents character development in a very engaging way. While Miles struggles with becoming Spiderman, his movement using more frames than some of the more developed characters makes him appear slower. However, once the story develops as well as Miles’ abilities, framing is synced with the other characters to emphasise growth. It is techniques like this, which make the audience re-engage with this movie again and again. The movie distances itself from the expectations the viewer may have given it.

Another notable difference that occurs after the movie’s climax is colour. Miles is constantly surrounded by beautiful scenes which include a lot of light. This is not the case when the villain makes himself prominent, the world around Miles becomes darker and more scenes take place during the night.

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The colour creates visual bookmarks, guiding you where you are in the story.

An Architectural Review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Sheet4
The colours at the start of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. © Sony

To conclude, the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a creatively stimulating movie which throughout production emphasises creating a graphic impact. The story is light-hearted as well as funny but still engages with more serious themes such as grief and guilt. This allows the character development to be more relatable and inspirational. The work encompassing this movie showcases the endless possibility of merging and combining different aspects of art and design to convey a greater whole. The plot, characters, and engaging animation style are thought-provoking and memorable, opening new possibilities for movies in the future.

Author

Halima Mohammed is an architecture student whose passions lie in investigating what makes design connect with us emotionally. She believes that architecture is always worth questioning and discussing, trusting that architecture can be analysed like a piece of literature.

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