|Director(s)||Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson|
|Screenplay By||Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Dave Callaham|
|Based On||The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee|
|Date Released (In Theaters)||June 2nd, 2023|
|Duration||2 hrs, 20 mins|
|Miles Morales/Spider-Man||Shameik Moore|
|Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman||Hailee Steinfeld|
|Jeff Morales||Brian Tyree Henry|
|Rio Morales||Luna Lauren Valez|
|Miguel O’Hara||Oscar Isaac|
|Peter Parker||Jake Johnson|
|The Spot||Jason Schwartzman|
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A lot has happened since “Into the Spider-Verse” came out in 2018.
One particular change is that “multiverse” is now part of the pop culture vocabulary thanks to Marvel Studios and “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Everyone’s got a multiverse, with variations of the same characters popping up and different worlds colliding. But this current trend started with “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse,” the surprisingly delightful movie that follows Miles Morales as he learns about his spider powers, with different Spider-People coming together to stop a villain. The movie was more creative and thrilling than anything live-action Marvel movies have produced in their own multiverse. But now that the general public knows the term’s meaning and may be oversaturated in multiverses, “Across the Spider-Verse” now arrives in theaters. How does it hold up?
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is gorgeous, inventive, and incomplete. The sequel enriches the first movie’s characters, action, humor, and story world while elevating its animation in ways unseen on this blockbuster level. With that said, some viewers will be thoroughly engaged with the direction of the overpacked story, only to be stranded by the end.
The sequel has four main storylines, only one of which is wrapped up. We’re first introduced to Gwen Stacy’s isolation as Spider-Woman. “Across the Spider-Verse” delves into the moment she lost her best friend, Peter Parker, and how her policeman father blames Spider-Woman, vowing to catch the masked vigilante for Gwen. Of course, Gwen’s father doesn’t know that Gwen is Spider-Woman. Yet one day, a villain from another dimension appears. As Gwen attempts to stop the bad guy, she meets two new Spider-people from other worlds: Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) and Jessica Drew (Issa Rae). They lead a crack team of Spider-People from across multiple universes trying to send every villain back to their own world. When Gwen’s father corners her as Spider-Woman, Gwen finally reveals that Spider-Woman is his daughter. He’s hurt and upset, and both father and daughter feel betrayed as the dad continues to order Spider-Woman’s arrest. Instead of staying in her own universe, Gwen follows the new Spider-People across multiple universes.
The three other storylines all involve Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). Miles is adapting to his Spider-Man capabilities but struggling to keep his secret identity away from his parents. He’s able to share and talk to his police chief father (Brian Tyree Henry) as Spider-Man but hesitates to be as honest with him as Miles. Our young hero spends the movie battling himself and his place in this world (or any world) as he struggles to defeat his first major villain, The Spot, is rejected by Miguel O’Hara’s league of Spider-People and is betrayed by his friends Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker. While the action sequences involving Miles fighting Spot and Spider-People are the most fun this franchise has had yet, the movie provides a subtle context of increasing existentialism and identity crisis as Miles finds himself alone wherever he goes.
“Across the Spider-Verse” is an ambitious and rewarding sequel for people who love Spider-Man and the lush visuals of the first movie. Yet for those who want closure, the story refuses to offer much and instead throws an extra twist and cliffhanger by the end. The movie is good and provides welcome returns to the characters and animation we loved so much in the first. But like many sequels, the movie spins many plates simultaneously, and while it doesn’t drop any, keeping them spinning can be tiring. You feel the movie’s 2-hour and 20-minute length, and rather than stick the landing, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” leaves its character in mid-leap.
Things To Note
Why Is “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” Rated PG
- Dialogue: Rare uses of profanity
- Violence: Fighting, explosions, buildings falling with threats of death
- Sexual Content: N/A
- Miscellaneous: N/A
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- What’s Miguel O’Hara’s origin story? We understand why he’s so fixated on the canon, but what was he like in his own world?
- If The Spot’s ultimate goal is to kill Miles Morales, does he care about other Spider-Men? As his powers grow, are other Spider-People in danger?
- Will Miles tell his parents? And what does Earth-42 Miles want with our Miles?
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
Miles is a high school sophomore who fights crime throughout Brooklyn as Spider-Man. He’s debating telling his parents his secret identity, but above all else, he misses being able to confide in and connect with someone.
Gwen is a teen Spider-Woman in another world. She’s been coping with the death of her best friend, and after coming forward to her father, she’s hurt that he sees her as a vigilante. She enjoys Miles’ company but doesn’t want to see Miles end up the same way as her friend.
Jeff and Rio Morales
Miles’ parents know he’s hiding something but don’t know how to address it. While Rio attempts to let Miles embrace his new life, his policeman father, Jeff, is disappointed that Miles seems to constantly drop his promises to them.
As the leader of the multiverse-traveling Spider-Crew, Miguel O’Hara is skilled, pragmatic, and, at times, ruthless. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the order of the universe, including letting some people die.
Peter Parker is Miles’ past mentor and part of the Spider-Crew. While he spent their last adventure as a more jaded and cynical Spider-Man, he has gained newfound joy for life and adventure by caring for his baby girl.
The Spot may seem like Spider-Man’s “villain of the week,” but his ability to transport himself into multiple places makes him more powerful than first assumed. Spot’s quest for vengeance against Spider-Man leads him through the multiverse to gain ultimate power.
Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)
The Action Sequences are Brilliant Displays of Imagination that Only Animation Can Conjure
From the start of the Da-Vinci-inspired Vulture fight to the dramatic hundred-Spider-People showdown, “Across the Spider-Verse” conveys its action sequences and clash of styles in a way only animation can achieve. Characters and worlds have different animation styles, colors, and movements, making each scene unlike anything you’ve seen before. Utilizing The Spot as a villain is especially phantasmagorical eye candy as he steps and trips into different locations. The movie pays tribute to comic books and any drawing or painting that has come before it.
Complex Characters Are More Three-Dimensional Than Many Superhero Films
In “Across the Spider-Verse,” no one is truly a villain, yet no one is truly a hero either. There are times when you’re rooting against Spider-Men, and this angle alone is a rare feature for a superhero film. You feel for the supporting characters and the villain and don’t wish for anyone to meet their demise. Their intrigue and dynamic are too riveting to say goodbye to any character, which makes you invested in the emotional stakes even more.
An Exploration of Multiverse Shenanigans
Disney’s Marvel Studios hinted at their multiverse as early as 2019, yet they have had mixed success exploring the full potential of that multiverse. Meanwhile, “Into the Spider-Verse” introduced its own universe-traveling heroes in 2018 and returned with “Across the Spider-Verse” with more color and antics than ever before. They have Spider-Cats, Spider-Dinosaurs, and cameos from different Spider-Men universes that will please any fan. Each corner of the screen is filled with references and jokes that will make you want to rewatch the movie immediately.
On The Fence
A Cliffhanger Ending that May Be Frustrating
“Across the Spider-Verse” was already announced as the first part of a sequel tentatively scheduled for next year. While many franchises and trilogies end with unfinished journeys or heroes at dark moments, “Across the Spider-Verse” doesn’t offer any emotional closure and seems occupied setting up its sequel in the last third of the movie. The Spot is left out of the story for the movie’s last half, and another Miles Morales is introduced in the last ten minutes. While some may consider this ending more true to a comic book format, as a movie, it’s disappointing and difficult to recommend a movie that has no ending to its story. A good start doesn’t mean a good finish.
How Does It End?
After following Gwen into the Spider-Verse and failing to imprison The Spot, Miles learns there are pre-determined fates for each Spider-Man, often involving some tragedy. Miles learns that his own father is determined to die, and when Miguel O’Hara and hundreds more Spidey guys try to capture Miles, he escapes and tries to warn his family. Gwen is blamed for bringing Miles to them in the first place, and she’s kicked out of the Spider-Crew and forced to return to her world.
Instead of returning to his own world, Miles is sent to Earth 42, where the spider that bit him is from. He learns that Earth 42 has no Spider-Man, that his father died in this world, and that they have an evil Miles Morales. Our Miles is captured by Evil Miles, with no sign of escape.
Meanwhile, Gwen makes amends with her father, who left the police force out of love and support for his daughter’s journey as Spider-Woman. Gwen realizes that some fates aren’t predetermined and that she has the power to change history. She assembles her own Spider-Crew of allies (Peter Parker, Noir Spider-Man, Spider-Punk, Spider-Ham, etc.) for Miles that must save him and stop Spot. The film ends with “To Be Continued….”
Will There Be a Sequel?
In our universe, there will, thankfully, be a sequel. It is still a mystery whether it comes out next year or opens up more sequels.
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