For the first time in a long time, walking out of the theater after seeing Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse I get the instant urge to rush back inside the theater for another viewing. As soon as the movie went to black, I could feel this hole form inside of me like I was the Spot and I didn’t want the experience to end!
For anyone who hasn’t seen the first film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this sequel does a good job at quickly filling in the holes, while also developing a strong emotional weight that will carry over throughout the movie. It begins in the universe of Gwen Stacy, as she is coping with the burden and isolation of being a super hero; knowing that there are other people like her out there but she has no way to connect with them. When Gwen encounters a version of the Vulture from another dimension, she is assisted by a special force of “spider-people” from other universes that are able to jump between universes and will become the driving force behind much of the movie.
By the time we catch up with Miles Morales back in his home universe, he is dealing with his own “spider-struggles”; late for a parent teacher conference while dealing with his “villain of the week”, the Spot! Miles’s mistakes
against the Spot will lead to his reconnection with Gwen and the Spider Society but also allow the Spot to become one of the biggest threats to the multiverse. Miles eventually finds himself at the headquarters of the Spider Society and it is revealed at how vast the Spider-Verse really is. This is where the movie goes to the next level as we are bombarded with every conceivable “spider-being” and really warrants a rewind button to be able to take it all in. Through this mass of “spider-people” comes a few stand out characters that will be sure to become fan-favorite characters: Karan Soni as Pavitr Prabhakar, Daniel Kaluuya as Hobie Brown and Oscar Issac as Miguel O’Hara are beyond amazing and a group of supporting characters that at times outshine the leads. We also see the return of Peter B Parker, as Dad of the Year with his toddler in tow on his adventures.
After the first “Spider-Verse” I wondered how the animation could be topped. Now after watching the sequel, I am amazed that it only took five years for this movie to be completed, considering how amazing the animation is. Gwen’s universe gives the feel of being inside of a living painting. An early fight scene between Miles and the Spot is everything that comic book fans have wanted in a movie but now we know that a live-action movie will never be able to pull off something so spectacular. The Spot’s transformation, from a “villain of the week” to a foe a 1000x more threatening than any Kang variant, was perfect and included a scene as unsettling as any before in cinema. The ability to mesh different art styles such as the early fight scene with the Vulture is beyond anything I have seen and leaves great expectations on what we could see in future comic book movies.
This movie is a rollercoaster on so many levels, never letting up except for a few moments and by the end you feel completely bewildered. Even when the pace of the movie slowed, the weight of each scene remains strong. The main themes of this movie are about, being true to yourself, and inclusion. This might be a little too in the face for some but I was happy to have it while sitting with my teenage kid. I feel that this movie can connect with a lot of different kids in a lot of different ways and I would suggest that any parent with a teenage kid, go see this movie together. Sony does a good job of skirting many of the restrictions that are set upon them by Kevin Fiege and the MCU and at time does a better job at explaining some of the rules of the multiverse than what we have seen so far from the MCU and helps explain a few of the events we have seen in other movies. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie is used as a way retcon the mistakes made in both the MCU and the Sony-Verse.
I want to say this is the perfect super-hero movie, because almost everything about it was perfect. I can’t think of another movie that gives the viewer so much cinematically, while at the same time making us crave so much more once it’s over; which might be the only knock against this movie. The animation and story alone rival the cinematic experience of Infinity War; then combining it with an amazing mix of quality character development, precision editing, and a beautiful musical score; Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse stands alone above every other comic book movie to date. But in another 20 years this movie will mean so much more to people that watched it and that is what makes a true classic.