Across the Spider-Verse is one of the best Spider-Man movies by far. This sentiment was similar to the previous animated entry, Into The Spider-Verse. It was revered for its groundbreaking animation style and playfulness with the characters.
But this film stands out because it questions more of the character than any other Spider-Man film. While other movies go through the motions and fulfill the character’s hallmarks, only so long can proceed before being a slog. This film recognizes this aspect and gives it an enthusiastic “nah” as it goes down its unique path.
A Multiverse Mash
There is a more credible threat for the young Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) of Earth-1610. The dimension-shifting Dr. Jonathan Ohnn (Jason Schwartzman) has become The Spot, bent on revenge against Spider-Man. Miles feels partially responsible for this annoyed scientist, having been a byproduct of the previous film’s climax.
The Spot starts as a villain ripping off convenience stores but soon takes on a bigger role. By tripping into the spots of his own body, the scientist finds out he can tap into the multiverse. With each universe he taps into, he grows more powerful.
Walking a Mile as Miles
Thankfully, the film isn’t so simple as stopping another multiverse threat once more. A far bigger problem is at play for this new Spider-Man on the block. Through a series of interdimensional events, Miles discovers that he’s an anomaly who has messed with canon and is seen as someone who shouldn’t be.
The only thing Miles feels he can trust in the vast multiverse is Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), the Spider-Woman of Earth-65. She returns to reconnect with Miles, and there’s a cute bond between them as they web-sling around New York. There’s also some bitterness as Gwen refuses to accept the Spider-Man lore that is waiting for her in the future.
A Bigger Web
As many trailers have promised, Across the Spider-Verse opens the door for dozens of Spider-Man characters. There’s no shortage of Spider-People running about in the vast Spider-Verse than in the last film. The good news is that the film doesn’t get lost in this crowd.
Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), the Spider-Man of the year 2099, is at the helm of the Spider-Verse operation. Having endured the most loss, he operates coldly, making him a conflicted rival for Miles. A more conflicted Spider hero is Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), a pregnant Spider-Woman skilled in motorcycles.
The vast assortment of Spider heroes is treated with nostalgia and jokes but is more like icing on the cake. There are a few surprises in the background and some delightfully unexpected cameos. These bits are significant in that they never distract from the greater story.
With Great Power and Responsibility
While Miles had to get used to being Spider-Man in the past film, he has to learn about the script he’s been dealt. More of the tragic tropes and a desire to break the mold are present. For Miles, the only way to live might be to break the script, even if that means breaking the multiverse.
This isn’t just a case of Miles selfishly grieving a loss, similar to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This is a case of wanting to be more open and protect those better than previous iterations. This is encapsulated beautifully with Gwen’s complete film arc, bookending her conflicted relationship with her cop father, which Miles can relate to.
More Marvelous Animation
Into The Spider-Verse was already a sight with its breathtaking and varied animation. Across The Spider-Verse ups the ante even more with so many mixed mediums. Various universes will appear in cut-out animation, live-action, traditional animation, and even LEGO.
The variety of styles is as eye-popping as they are meaningful. Gwen’s world, for example, is loaded with painterly backgrounds that bleed for sad moments. The painterly scenes are absolutely breathtaking, especially the stark contrast in the changing moods of Gwen’s life.
Conclusion: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
For being the middle film of a trilogy, Across the Spider-Verse excels amazingly at being the Empire Strikes Back of Spider-Man movies. It’s colorful and creative while still holding a thematically solid and intriguing core. The action is gorgeous and the fast-paced comedy still hits perfectly hard, even for the story being far more dramatic.
What makes the film most unique is its centerpiece of Miles Morales. He more or less has to argue for his own relevancy as Spider-Man and literally fight back against the traditional framing of the character. Miles not only proves he is valid but that he is the hero of one of the best Spider-Man movies ever made.
Did you see Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse? What did you think? Was it better than the first movie? Is it better than the live-action Spider-Man movies? Let us know in the comments below.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is currently playing in theaters everywhere.