"A gargantuan collaborative effort that has spawned one of the greatest superhero films of this generation."
BY ALEX GILSTON JUNE 2, 2023
Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Men - a frankly insane amount compared to Into the Spider-Verse - are back and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and co attempt to deal with the consequences of blowing a hole in the multiverse in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse picks up just over a year after the events of it's predecessor. We’re reminded of how Miles Morales came to be Spider-Man and stopped the villainous Wilson Fisk with the help of some similar friends, including Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson). Fast forward and Miles has a year of experience in the suit and has had a growth spurt. He’s doing well in his studies and is thinking about his future. The one thing he wants more than anything, however, is to be reunited with the friends he made; the only people who can truly understand him. When a routine “villain-of-the-week” job turns hairy Miles is reunited with Gwen; who is now a part of a secret society of Spider-People led by the angsty Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) also known as Spider-Man 2099. With the multiverse at risk Miles must choose between the greater good or the people he loves the most.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is glorious. It grasps the scope of Into the Spider-Verse - which already felt wildly ambitious - and multiplies it by infinity. It gets that in a multiverse there are endless upon endless possibilities, and the boundless creativity on display is satisfying proof of that. Unlike a certain multiverse film that came out last year - not naming names because that wouldn’t be nice, Doctor Strange - where the alternate New York’s looked quite similar and the innovative difference was that cars went past traffic lights on red instead of green; Across the Spider-Verse is like the cheese to it’s chalk. The alternate universes on display - Gwen Stacy’s watercolour New York, the huey hustle and bustle of Mumbattan home of Spider-Man India, and Miguel O’Hara’s home Nueva York a futuristic New York home to the Spider-Society headquarters - all have their own distinctive animation style that pop off the screen in beautiful technicolour.
The first Spider-Verse film pushed the boundaries of the superhero genre narratively. It was a story we had seen so many times before portrayed on screen, but it was more innovative than any of them. Across the Spider-Verse is no different. It takes everything we know about Spider-Man as a character and moulds it into a clever dilemma for Miles Morales. What’s more important, fate or family? It also continues to take tropes like the motivations of its central villain Spot (Jason Schwartzman) - that in other films are starting to feel laboured - and uses them to its advantage whilst also highlighting how ridiculous they can be.
As you would probably expect, Across the Spider-Verse has a metric tonne of cameos and Easter eggs. The difference between this and other films however is that it doesn’t rely on them, or use them as a crutch. Instead the emotional heart of the film, and the conflict within Miles, is given room to breath and flourish. Gwen also gets a lot more to work with here and getting to find out more about her and seeing her get centred more narratively.
To not mention the artists who worked on this film would be a disservice. You’ve probably seen this said a thousand times but every shot is truly a work of art you could hang in the Louvre. The amount of love that has been poured into the construction of this film is evident. The big argument at the moment is about AI films, and of course the thought that AI could make films over people is abhorrent; there is absolutely no way an AI could make anything like Across the Spider-Verse. It has a human touch that would be impossible to replicate.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is how you do a multiverse film. A gargantuan collaborative effort that has spawned one of the greatest superhero films of this generation. When this story concludes as a whole it could be considered the greatest animated cinematic pairing ever.