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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse
This animated sequel is a technical marvel, though the film feels like set-up for the third

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Release Date: June 2, 2023
Runtime: 02:20
Synopsis:
Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.

Table of Contents

Miles Morales discovers a society of Spider-Men whose job is to protect the multiverse in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. It has been sixteen months since Miles Morales () became the Spider-Man of Brooklyn on Earth-1610 and he has been missing the multiversal Spider-Men he befriended, particularly Gwen Stacey () and Peter B. Parker (). Miles is happy to be reunited with Gwen after she returns to his universe on a mission to track the timeline disruptions caused by The Spot (), a faceless villain whose body is covered with portals. After discovering that The Spot has escaped into the multiverse, Miles follows Gwen in pursuit. In the multiverse, Miles discovers the existence of the Spider-Society on Earth-928, where Miguel O'Hara () leads the various Spider-Men on a mission to ensure the “canon events” of all the universes go undisrupted.

Synopsis

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the sequel to the Oscar-winning 2018 animated adventure Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, once again co-written and produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie, The Mitchells vs the Machines) and directed by the trio of Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson. The sequel expands its scope by taking place in multiple universes, each depicted by its unique animation style. This includes the opening prologue on Earth-65, telling the backstory of the Spider-Woman Gwen Stacey, who accidentally killed her universe's Peter Parker (Jack Quaid) and is pursued by her Police Captain father George Stacey ().

After helping thwart an attack by a Renaissance variant of The Vulture (Jorma Taccone), Gwen is recruited into the Spider-Society, after fellow Spider-Woman Jessica Drew () convinces Miguel O'Hara/Spider-Man 2099 to let her join. When Gwen finds herself back on Earth-1610 as part of a mission, she can't help but reunite with Miles Morales, who follows Gwen back into the multiverse in pursuit of the villain The Spot. Miles meets fellow variants, such as Pavitr Prabhakar/Spider-Man India (Karan Soni) and Hobart “Hobie” Brown/Spider-Punk (), and learns that the actions of The Spot will endanger the lives of Miles' parents Jeff () and Rio (). However, Miguel O'Hara does not want Miles to disrupt the canon more than he already has.

My Thoughts on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

On a technical level, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is probably one of the most ambitious animated films there ever was. The film takes the “living comic-book” look of the original film to the next level by featuring multiple universes with their visual style, such as the watercolour appearance of Gwen Stacy's Earth-65 or the punk-rock-inspired faded Xerox look of Hobie Brown. Then there's the Spider-Society on Earth-928, which features appearances by hundreds of different Spider-Man variants. The film also features several cameos, in both animated and live-action form, which include a very familiar voice appearing in a recurring gag.

As for the plot and story of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the film features quite a lot to take in, with a running time of 2h20m running time, which makes this one of the longest-ever animated films. There is also the fact that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is only the first half of a two-part story, which is set to conclude next year with Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. This includes the film ending on a major cliffhanger that leaves quite a bit unresolved.

The two-part nature of the story also makes it hard to grasp who the true antagonist of the story is. Initially introduced as a comic-relief “villain of the week,” The Spot evolves into being a much more serious threat, especially as he begins to work to strengthen his portal-generating powers. Then there's Miguel O'Hara, who acts antagonistic toward Miles but can probably better be described as an anti-hero. Then there's another surprise villain reveal that plays a part in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse‘s cliffhanger ending.

While still a technical marvel and a generally entertaining superhero film, I did end up feeling like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was a little too ambitious for what it is. We barely end up getting to know the new characters and some returning characters, such as Peter B. Parker, barely get enough screen time. It ultimately feels like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was merely the set-up for the big conclusion that's to come.

Trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.