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Another take on Spider-Man? You might think that you’ve seen everything that could be done with Spider-Man, but you’d be wrong. This animated Spidey film takes the story to new places, and it does so in a completely new form.

Into the Spider-Verse brings Spider-Man back to his comic-book origins. The brilliant animation combines a comic book aesthetic with modern animation, poking fun at the oft-told origin story and bringing that story to life in creative new ways that are exciting, fast-paced, and possibly even hard to watch for people who have trouble with motion sickness.

When teenager Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider, he is stunned to find out that not only are the Spider-Man stories real, but he isn’t the only Spider-Man. Peter Parker is Spider-Man too. As the villain Kingpin makes a mess of the space-time continuum, Miles meets Spider-characters from alternate dimensions. The realization that he isn’t alone and that these heroes are not all physically imposing or in possession of the same skills, encourages him to begin a task that seems impossible.

This funny, exciting, and even sometimes suspenseful film would be great for a family outing (its PG rating is for comic-book violence and a couple of instances of strong language). It is filled with action as well as some important messages.

“Anyone can wear the mask.” That phrase has grown up around the film, and it expresses one of the most important ideas of the story—heroism isn’t limited to certain people or certain types of people. Superheroes can come in any form or color. We are all capable of courage. The end credits include this inspiring quote from Marvel creator Stan Lee: “That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.”

The Spider-Verse has something in common with the church as the body of Christ. Different characters from different cultures who have different skills are all working toward victory over darkness. Various gifts are distributed among people, and all of those gifts are vital in different times and places. None are too small or too weak to contribute; all are needed.

Yes, it’s just another Spider-Man movie. And yes, it’s just a cartoon. But when so many of our young people feel like the problems facing our world are insurmountable, it’s a breath of fresh air to see this kind of empowerment and encouragement to seek out the gifts God has planted in each of us. (Sony)

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