Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse not only manages to improve on its predecessor but it is one of the best pictures of the year.
Unlike many Marvel films that came before, there is not a scene during the credits. However, there is a lot of animation to appreciate as the credits run their course. It’s the ONLY disappointment about an otherwise amazing film. What I can say with 100% certainty is that Spider-Man: Across the Universe is worth every minute of its 140-minute run time. It has something in common with another film but if you paid attention in 2022, you probably already knew this. Spider-Man: Across the Universe is so long that it needs two films to tell its story! Let me tell you that the experience of watching this film is much different than Avengers: Infinity War. Infinity War‘s ending was so dour that one had no clue what to expect in Endgame. This experience was very different and for the best.
I’ll get into the aesthetics below but the animation in this film goes further than in 2018. The film itself is bigger and better to the point where the boundaries must be pushed even further. It’s all in the service to the story and I’m certainly tipping my cap to the work that each and every animator put into the film. Speaking of the story, this film–like every film–starts with writers. Without writers penning a script, animators would not be able to do their part in bringing the vision to the screen. It’s a team effort here between the writers, directors, and producers. To whoever inserted the Protect Trans Kids sign into the film, let me just say THANK YOU. It would be nice to see some more transgender superheroes on screen but I’ll definitely take the wins where I can get them.
I’m going to offer a lot more of my thoughts below the title art. You won’t get any spoilers from me. Take it from me, this is one of those films that you need to see it as soon as possible because of spoilers making their way online. Just remember the wise words of Ben Parker: “Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.”
Where does Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) go after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won Best Animated Feature? Across and Beyond, apparently. It’ll be some time before we witness the trilogy’s conclusion in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse but they go above and beyond in the first sequel. Watching this film on Monday night is what it must have been like to experience Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Much like that sequel, this film just comes to an end. No mid-credit, no end-credit scene. It just ends. My own emotions were running high knowing it would be at least another year. But hey, look at it this way–we’re not having to wait another three years for the what I expect will be an epic conclusion to the Spider-Verse trilogy. If not for the pandemic, it probably would have been a shorter wait for this epic sequel.
It’s not long before Miles reunites with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and the two jump into the Multiverse. In this film, the Multiverse looks very different from what we’ve seen before. But again, we’re looking at it through the lens of Miles, Gwen, and Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), among many others in the Spider Society. They are an elite group of Spider-People who are protecting the Multiverse. Where were they during Spider-Man: No Way Home? Anyway, they team up to face a new threat but it’s not long before Miles makes his differences known with Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac). Even though he is still relatively new to the gig, he has an idea of what being a hero means. It’s just that his idea is different than others–this is what makes Miles Morales such a unique character. But in the meantime, the emotional stakes have never been higher.
We got a brief tease during an end credit scene of Miguel O’Hara. Newcomers this time around include Jessica Drew (Issa Rae) from Earth-332, Pavitr Prabhakar/Spider-Man India (Karan Soni), from Earth-50101, Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), May “Mayday” Parker (Peter B. Parker and Mary Jane’s daughter), and Dr. Jonathan Ohnn/The Spot (Jason Schwartzman).
From an aesthetic standpoint, they’ve pushed boundaries even further than before. Every single dimension in this film has its own look in the film. For example, see the below photo, which is not an actual image still from the film. There’s an increase in representation, too. Without giving any particular specifics, I wouldn’t expect anything less from the likes of Lord and Miller and this team of filmmakers. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. I also love that they found a way to insert a Protect Trans Kids sign into the film. It’s more noticeable in the trailer because the film moves way too fast to even notice where it is. But as a transgender cinephile, I am so happy that the Spider-Verse filmmakers put it in the film.
Musically speaking, film composer Daniel Pemberton gives us another amazing score. He manages to go bigger in the sequel, which is expected for a sequel that is already pushing boundaries. It’s not just coming up with a character themes but themes that are able to mesh well with some of the other themes in the movie. Three of Pemberton’s main themes include Spider-Man 2099, Gwen Stacy, and Miles Morales. Pemberton remixes the Miles Morales theme from what we heard in the first film. Meanwhile, I look forward to listening to the score on its own. For right now, Pemberton delivers one of the best scores of the year.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has the right mix of character development, emotional stakes, and action to make it a comic book movie masterpiece upon arrival in theaters. One leaves the film in a high emotional state before starting to think about how they’ll pull off Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse when the audience is going to be going into the trilogy capper with very high expectations.
DIRECTORS: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
SCREENWRITERS: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller & David Callaham
CAST: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, with Daniel Kaluuya and Oscar Isaac
Sony Pictures Animation will release Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse in theaters on June 2, 2023. Grade: 5/5
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