If you haven’t heard it by now, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-verse is arguably the best comic movie to date. For me, a Spider-Man fan, I’ve never had a better time in the movie theater.
Into The Spider-verse was a magical experience, one of the best overall animated films, and one of the best Spider-Man stories to date. It’s easy (relatively speaking) to take a new idea and hit a home run with it, but recapturing the magic for a sequel can be tough to accomplish. Luckily, this isn’t one of those instances.
Across The Spider-Verse takes everything the previous film did well and launches it to new heights in every way. Like I said, you’ve probably already heard it by now. Across the Spider-verse is a must see film for Spider-Man fans, comic fans, kids, family, adults, everyone! If you’re a Spider-Man comics fan, my goodness you’re in for a treat!
The movie, quite literally, expands “across” the Spider-Verse and features Spider-Man characters from various mediums. In some instances this even included live action counterparts. What was most impressive, is how they stayed faithful to the source material of some characters and brought their specific art style to life.
In one instance one of my favorite animated versions of Spider-Man appears on screen (Spectacular Spider-Man from the Sony animated series) and he appears in his same animated style as the show. His movements, stance, height, everything is perfectly translated. But it’s neat that his more flattened animation style is blended in with another character right next to him that looks like it’s ripped from a page in a comic. You could go on to every character and find details like this, but we don’t want to spoil any of the appearances. So let’s just say if you’re a fan of a previous Spider-Man iteration they probably look and feel just like how you remember it.
I couldn’t help but marvel at how masterful the blending of various mediums was done. They managed to respect the animation history while bringing their own comic book style approach to everything. The fact we could see computer generated characters alongside hand drawn ones, and then a stop motion variation swings by, it’s just incredible. It’s as much a celebration of animation as it is Spider-Man, and it makes you appreciate the roots of where animation has come from.
From the first sequence down to the ending credits, I don’t think I stopped smiling and pointing at something on the screen. I legit felt like a kid being so happy to see some of my favorite characters and moments blending together so well.
There is one instance where I felt a little off about things. I’m a fan of Scarlet Spider and instead of him being a brooding character that disagrees with decisions, they decided to make him a comedic outlet. It’s funny, and I liked it, so I’m not too down on it, but it would have been awesome to see him more “in character.” His suit design though…I’ll chef kiss that all day.
With so much going on the screen at once you’d think a lot of it would get lost in translation, but they do a great job of putting just the right amount of focus on various aspects to get the point across. More well known variations from Spider-Man will get a quick “oh that’s so and so,” while lesser known entities might get full introductions or a quick cut to a specific issue in the Spider-Man universe to explain where they came from. All throughout every scene features some hidden gem fans will go bonkers over.
Which is what is so neat about the movie. Every little detail in every shot has some type of meaning or purpose to it. Everything. The level of detail in the suits, the environment, where certain objects are placed, it all gives purpose to the characters and world building.
And the characters are so well written that you come to love them even if they are not too familiar with you yet. I personally love the fact that the movie puts Peter Parker on the back burner. We got live action movies and animated series; we’ve been there with him countless times. Instead Miles and Gwen get to take center stage, and personally I’m a huge Spider-Gwen (Ghost Spider, Spider Woman) fan.
The movie does a phenomenal job of introducing Spider-Gwen in the quickest way possible, while also giving her some extremely important emotional tones to her story. We connect with her almost instantly, and she becomes a strong point in the story. She rivals Miles for the spotlight and for good reason. She opens the movie and right away you get a taste of how the animated crew starts blending worlds together because the sequence has a really unique art style to it, before it transitions over to Miles’ world.
That’s not to take away from Miles at all. He carries the movie easily, and his teenager excitement is relatable in every way. Finding out about a secret society, but your best friend saying you can’t join, it hurts. His emotional reaction to events is spot on with his character. As he meets all these new Spider-personas he serves as the perfect point of view for the audience. He’s curious about lesser known Spidey’s, while excited to see Peter (just like us). He was impressed, sad, happy, all at the same moments and it feels like he’s traversing these emotions with you.
That’s the beauty of Spider-Man. “Anybody can be Spider-Man” is a saying that goes with the character, and it could literally mean what it says, it or could be your relation with how characters progress through their arches. The story of the film is ultimately about responsibility, while Gwen has a huge “coming out” story about telling her dad she is the superhero he’s been hunting for. This idea of acceptance by your family is explored by both her and Miles, and her experiences lean into how she warns Miles to approach it. Both of them deal with growing up, and both are afraid that their life decisions won’t align with where their parents want them to go.
The film leaves you on a cliffhanger, but with good reason. I didn’t feel the ending cut anything short, and there is just too much to jam pack into a 2 hour film. I’d much rather them keep expanding it instead of creating a jumbled shorter mess. I can’t really fault the movie for being restricted by an overall issue with the industry itself.
However, I felt it was a complete experience. I left the theater talking about everything, and heard all the excitement from the people around me. The fact it sparks interest in not just Spider-Man, but different iterations is phenomenal. The fact it lends a hand into comic books hopefully means some of these people will head to a local comic shop to check out these characters.