Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the second instalment in the Miles Morales saga, Sony Pictures Animation’s adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-Verse series of comics. It has big shoes to fill following 2018’s beloved Into the Spider-Verse which introduced cinemagoers to a very different Spider-Man from the ones that have graced their screens in the past.
Miles Morales is an academically and artistically gifted but awkward and deeply conflicted 14-year-old from Brooklyn whose life is turned upside down when he gains the powers of Spider-Man. After witnessing the original Spider-Man die at the hands of Kingpin he is quickly forced to take up the mantle and save the multiverse with the help of a ragtag group of Spider-People from other dimensions.
Across the Spider-Verse picks up a year after the events of the original. Miles is growing up and learning to be Spider-Man all on his own since being separated from the Spider-friends he made last year, who he still feels are the only people who truly understand him. He continues to struggle with the pressure of balancing his self-expression, the responsibility of being Spider-Man, and his parents’ high expectations for his academic talents. A chance encounter with a superpowered criminal named The Spot pulls him back into the dimensional chaos of the Spider-Verse, he finally gets the chance to see his friends again and meets a whole lot of new ones along the way. The storytelling is just as gripping and emotional as the first film but offers us deeper insight into Miles’ personality and internal conflict as he grows up and grows into his role.
The only thing that detracted from my experience of Spider-Verse was that it felt like it ended during its second act with a cliffhanger and a teaser for the sequel, Beyond the Spider-Verse, which is slated for release in March 2024. The story suffers from being used as the setup for its own story and feels like it’s supposed to be viewed back-to-back with next year’s sequel.
Having said all of that, I still encourage you to go see this film on the biggest screen you can find and crank the volume for the absolutely bangin’ soundtrack composed by legendary hip hop producer Metro Boomin and featuring the voices of Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Nas, and many other hip hop greats. The music sets the stage and pace for jawdropping action scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish and animation fans screaming “How did they do that?!” at the screen.
Across the Spider-Verse somehow manages to surpass the unbelievably high bar of animation finesse and creativity set by its predecessor with a playful use of the multiversal concept to introduce a blend of animation styles seamlessly integrated into the same scene. This is best exemplified by Hobie Brown AKA Spider-Punk, a character drawn in the style of a collaged together DIY punk zine with different parts of his outfit hand-drawn on different layers of paper that move independently. Spider-Punk’s DIY style is effortlessly blended into fluid animations that let him interact with the sets and characters of the movie’s incredibly slick primary art style influenced by Marvel Comics, as well as other extradimensional characters who are drawn just as distinctly as him. Even gadgets and powers originating from different dimensions are animated in their native art style while being wielded by characters like Miles and Gwen.
Overall, Across the Spider-Verse is a masterpiece of animated filmmaking that could go down as one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time, but its fate lies in the balance of whether Sony can execute on their own setup in March’s sequel.
We saw the film at a preview screening at Event Cinemas Chermside with press tickets provided to 4ZZZ by Sony Pictures Releasing.