Spider-Verse, Animation, and the Live-Action Remake

I have said many times how I have a complicated relationship with comic book (specifically superhero) movies. Generally speaking I really like them. Some of them are my favorite movies. I do feel exhausted by them because the market is so saturated with them. I felt amazingly recharged by Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.

The current trend of remaking animated movies in live-action form, I have a much less complicated relationship. That is, I am not a fan.

I’m speaking primarily of Disney’s seemingly non-stop push to remake every one of their animated classics—Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Aladdin, The Lion King, the list goes on. To be fair, I think there is merit to taking a classic story and retelling it from a new perspective and/or more current sensibilities. My personal objection is the implication that the animated medium is somehow inferior to the live action one and therefore these animated classics need to be remade in “live action” now that the technology has caught up.

But then, we get to the point that these aren’t really live action movies. I mean, the “live action” Lion King has just as many animated shots (probably all of them except for probably some landscapes), so we’re really talking about “photo-real” computer animation. Which, again, is a perfectly fair medium, but why do these stories need to be retold? One of the things I think the animated medium does so well is not only showing us visuals and creating characters that could previously not exist in the real world, it’s how those characters are animated. And then we get to how the animated medium can tell a story. And that’s what always brings be back to Spider-Verse.

As was previously established, the superhero genre in movie form has become also-ran for me. However, when I saw Spider-Verse, it was the first time in ages that I was blown away by how the medium could bring a comic book to life. The use of everything from moving comic panels and captions to creating perspective with the illusion of comic print misaligning to the living embodiment of Kirby Dots made Spider-Verse one of the most exciting movies I’ve seen in years, period. To say nothing of the brilliant story, of course. We’ve had three separate live action Spider-Man franchises in the past decade and change, and this “cartoon” blew them all out of the water.

This got me thinking. We may all clutch our pearls every time a favorite movie of ours is remade, but the powers that be are going to keep doing it anyway. If we aren’t going to be too precious about the aforementioned live action remakes of animated classics, why don’t we start remaking live action classics in the animated medium? Not only is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse an excellent example, but I also submit for approval the excellent Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventure shorts produced by Titmouse. I mean, anyone that follows me knows what Star Wars means to me, and these shorts provide a fresh perspective and style on classic scenes that can only be captured in animation.

Personally, I would love more classic moments, heck entire classic movies be remade for animation. Think of the possibilities…

– Citizen Kane redone in B&W animation that captures the style and texture of newsprint.
– Apocalypse Now redone as a gritty anime.
– Casablanca redone as a propaganda film with Fleicher style design.
– And think of the possibilities of varying styles in 2001: A Space Odyssey

I’m giving some extreme examples here, to be sure, but medium of animation can be pushed to create anything. The possibilities for telling a visual story are endless.

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