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The greatest shot in cinema history: a deep dive into the execution of the "leap of faith" scene in


Superheroes have been well-known worldwide ever since Stan Lee rose to fame. Everyone knows Marvel and DC nowadays and for sure, most of us thrive on the studio's creations. Although the most well-known pieces by Marvel are live-action movies, the team has experimented with other mediums such as animation. Many of their productions were based on old, hand-drawn animations, or perhaps the iconic LEGO movies, but the most recent masterpiece of theirs was "Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse", an animation style that has a whole aesthetic built into it, unique, and never really seen or done before within the animation industry. Other than containing the most top-notch soundtrack, incredible animation, amazing direction and such alluring art, this movie contains one of the most important shots in cinema history, well known as the "Leap of faith". If you're a cinematography geek, an art-crazed nerd, a Marvel superfan or just genuinely need a hit of inspiration or a boost to your confidence, you've come to the right place. You're about to dive deep into one of the best shots in cinematic history EVER.


In a nutshell, Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse, tells a story about the teenager Miles Morales who has moved to a new school in Brooklyn as great expectations drop at his back like a ticking time bomb (coincidence? I think not!). As he sneaks out with his most trusted partner-in-crime, Uncle Aaron, to spray away a plain wall into a graffiti masterpiece, he is bitten by the usual radioactive spider as the classic Spider-Man origin story goes. However, simultaneously, inside the huge Alchemax lab, one of the villains, Kingpin, brings out 5 portals to different dimensions with a collider, opening up the opportunity for 5 spider-people to hop out. Peter Parker, the first Spider-Man in the main dimension dies when confronting Kingpin. Miles is the only one left to carry on his legacy and destroy the collider after making a promise to Peter. With that, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, bravery and great success as Brooklyn's friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man with his Spider-friends: Spider-Man Peter B. Parker, Spider-Woman Gwen Stacy, Spider-Ham Peter Porker, Spider Noir and Penni Parker.


Now that the summary is out of the way, let's get to the point. The "Leap of faith" scene was produce with “What’s up danger”, a rap song by Blackway and Black Caviar. "What's up danger", despite being used as a background song, it emerges with the scene itself and it definitely would not be the same without it. It has traces of the prowler’s theme (no spoilers on why… but still encourage you to find out!), which includes very energetic and uplifting lyrics and beats. This scene is where Miles takes on what his own expectations lead him to, after letting go of that fear of his own passions and identity holding him back from success, jumping straight into adulthood and accepting his responsibilities, taking shape, and embracing his own version of Spider-Man.


To set the scene, Miles had always been sort of awkward and limited his potential to what his father’s expectations were for him, not fully letting his own spark shine through. Throughout the process of figuring out how to become a proper Spider-Man, he had always looked up to his influences and followed their every step, copying them. The shot that will be analysed further into this essay is where he learns how to do things his own way and at his own pace. What inspired him to become his own version of Spider-Man were a few iconic quotes from his loved ones, such as when his dad tells him “I see this spark in you, it’s amazing- but it's yours. And whatever you choose to do with it, It'll be great”, or when his mom affirms that “our family doesn’t run from things, Miles”, or his uncle, when he says “You’re the best of us, Miles”. However, what baptised the target scene with its name was when Peter B. Parker, his greatest influence, assures him that he won’t know if he’ll succeed. “That’s all it is, Miles. A leap of faith.”, he says. And that is the most important quote of the entire movie. The message clearly shines through as a massive symbol of bravery, identity, and hope, and it’s truly brilliant.


"Leap of faith" video:


1. Miles' determination

First off, we already see a quick transition to Miles stepping into Aunt May's Spider-Man storage room, already looking more confident and hopeful, with a powerful glare of determination that reads "I'm here to win".




2. Character development within the mask


In comparison to a past shot, we see that Miles' face lines up perfectly with the Spider-Man mask. Before that moment, we get a shot where the mask doesn't fit quite well, but now he is ready to wear the mask. He was mentally prepared to become Spider-Man. Here is where cinematography starts to kick in perfectly, harmonising with the true intentions of the message of the movie and lining up the movie's scenes with the emotions provoked in the viewer.



In the video, we can see Miles in a foetal position and backing up his foot, crunching himself into a safer pose, where his face doesn't show. The representation of his fear is on full display in this shot. Additionally, the angle of the camera is at a dutch angle, or so, tilted. In cinematography, this shows that something is not quite right or is just thrown around in action shots, but you can feel the anxiety shine through. Other than that, the audience can feel themselves with Miles, or even as Miles.





Once Aunt May gives him his own web shooters. She winks at him and says "it fits perfectly". Like him aligning with the mask he'll call his own, this scene expresses the fact that this is the time when he becomes his own Spider-Man.


Additionally, it's a throwback to another earlier scene where Miles buys Spider-Man merch to use as a suit (even though he's just using his own merch he's PRETENDING to be Spider-Man, really), we see Stan Lee selling it to him (bonus point for having Stan Lee in that comedic bit). Miles asks if he can return it if it doesn't fit, and he responds with "It always fits… eventually!" as it hovers over to a sign that says "NO RETURNS OR REFUNDS, EVER!". On a surface level, it's just a comedy gig, however, we can now see that it's a little contradicting prediction to what's to come later on in the movie. So you see, it does fit NOW. Isn't that just GENIUS direction!?



Here, he is unable to relax and can't let go of the old to jump into the new as if he's stuck to safety, so he figuratively and literally breaks the glass abruptly and takes his leap of faith. It really emphasises his bravery: he is still undeniably terrified, but he decides to do the right thing. Bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather when fear is and danger is still confronted for the purpose of duty, morality, or the greater good.


And now comes the best part, the one iconic picture that captures the leap of faith.



Does it look deep and sentimental? Maybe not, honestly, it might just look really cool, but that's not the point! The colourful buildings beside him with bright lights, which leave a space in the middle with the dark sky, surround Miles; centering him inside the frame. He is the focus, the world wraps around him at this very moment. The angle and movement of this shot show him as this tiny figure leaping into the massive, terrifying city. He is literally falling down, but as the camera is turned upside down too, it gives us the feeling that he's going up. To succeed, we have to fall down and fail countless times, and that's what is happening right now. It's all or nothing, death or swing (word for word).


As he is shown moving through the buildings he once slammed his face on and tried to jump off of, it directly contrasts some earlier scenes in the movie. Let's take my favourite one as an example.



In the first picture, we see Miles falling down a building with a scream following him down, and it directly contrasts the second picture, where he swings up and a text of him cheering follows him up. And amongst all of his actions, we can see that it's uniquely his. Every spider man moves in their own style, but Miles' way of movement is totally unique. Gwen, for example, moves gracefully with smooth movements, Peter B. Parker has a more casual, effortless, laid-back way of using his powers, Spider-Ham has a cartoony air to him, and Peni has an Anime sort of flair to her. Miles is nothing like them, his movements are more energetic, imperfect, and bold. He'd rather parkour and run around the city (also casually mentioned earlier in the movie during the Alchemax chase scene) than anything else, which no one else in the movie does (well… other than Prowler. No spoilers, go watch it yourself).


At last, the music ends with Miles lifting up his mask and smirking in pride and encouragement. He took that leap of faith and is going to save the city. Now he has completed his own origin story and receives his own title as "Spider-Man: Miles Morales" in comic book form, as the other Spider-people were given.



Ladies and gentlemen, that wraps up the most epic part of "Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse". With such analysis, it is possible to conclude that this movie, and mainly this scene, is amazing. This single moment paid off the entire movie, and it is why Miles' leap of faith is the best shot in cinema history maybe ever, especially for the sort of setup and pay-off sort of format, used in movies, writing, etc (this technique works with building up details that become relevant later on into the movie). For me, the most satisfying thing about the movie is the feeling of encouragement after the movie is over. The main message of the movie is that "anyone can wear the mask, you can wear the mask", as Miles says himself in the last few seconds of the movie. This encourages us to move along in life and face even the smallest of responsibilities like a superhero.


In case it wasn't clear; yes, this is my favourite movie. And when I say I could write a whole essay on it, I mean… that's what I just did!... Partially. But I hope you feel the same way about it now, too.


Inspiration:


Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse script:


(Pictures without links underneath come from the "Leap of faith" video)


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