A good writer would start this piece off with something personal then seamlessly blend in the review portion for Across the Spider-Verse. A great writer would weave in social commentary and metaphor to show the height of the pedestal Across the Spider-Verse is sitting at. A real writer would be unbiased throughout their review. …We’re going for two of three with this one, guys. I remember in 2018, when I, in New York, and fellow Co-Founder William Evans, who lives in Ohio, were watching Into the Spider-Verse, and we both said to ourselves, “He’s the greatest. Spider-Man is the greatest of all time.” As I sat and watched Across the Spider-Verse, this time, I thought to myself, Miles Morales has transformed and changed what it means to tell a Spider-Man story.
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, Across the Spider-Verse brings us back to multiverse, this time with Gwen Stacy (Emma Myers) literally drumming up a storm. Your girl is going through it, and this time, it’s her turn to narrate. We get a reminder of what Gwen has been through as well as the foreshadowing of the choices and hurt that lay ahead. We see that the actions taken from the last movie have caused ramifications across the multiverse still. We see villains popping up in the wrong universe. Which leads to Gwen meeting the folks cleaning up those messes: Spider Woman, Jessica Drew (Issa Rae) and 2099 Spider-Man Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac). Fam, the opening fight these three take part in with the Renaissance era depiction of the Vulture broke my mind. We can come back to that tho. We then join Miles Morales with a year and some change under his belt as Brooklyn’s Spider-Man. Our guy is struggling, yall. Boyo is 15, trying to be Spider-Man, and now its cutting into his personal life, especially his family time.
Across the Spider-Verse: The Hood’s Best Storyteller
Miles Morales is juggling a lot of things in this movie. We’re seeing the classic balancing act of secret identity and superheroing fumbling. Miles out here missing classes, family events, and getting real aggy at the situation. Meanwhile, as Spider-Man, shit getting trying as well. Things then anti-escalate as we meet the villain of the movie, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman). The Spot is a low-level villain, hilariously doing some very pathetically petty crime (robbery) in order to get by. Mans is literally paint white with black holes all over his face and body that act as portals. Dude’s life fucking sucks, and so do his circumstances.
He is really down bad. Meanwhile, Miles is making jokes while brushing him off as a Z-list villain. These actions hold dire consequences that unravel as the story goes on. Also, when you see who he is, you’re goin lose it. I love this angle. For me, it shows a mistake on Miles underestimating a villain going through it, and it coming back to bite him later on. Jason Schwartzman does the perfect job of having Spot sound and feel very pathetic. It’s the only word that can best describe him and his actions. You feel sorry for him and even like his off-beat charm. Much like Miles in the Into the Spider-Verse, he just wants to be taken seriously.
Another part of this story is isolation and a feeling of belonging. This is truly where the story takes off. Miles is pretty alone as a Spider-Man but then to discover, by reuniting with Gwen, that there’s a whole assembly of Spider-People that he for some reason can’t be apart of creates a huge analogy for gatekeeping, acceptance, and trust that can be shown in Across the Spider-Verse. It’s truly amazing to see these different iterations of Spider-Man.
I truly loved how each Spider-Person moved and used their webs uniquely. Gwen is incredibly graceful, the ballerina shoes are such a great touch to show off her footwork and finesse. Issa Rae’s Jessica Drew is amazing. That woman really loves her motorcycle and out here putting Johnny Blaze to shame with the way she was ghost riding the whip while preggers. The Spider-Man of India Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni) may be the most intricate Spider-Man with how he incorporates his bangle web shooters with his webs. A favorite for me is Spider-Punk, Hobie Brown (Daniel Kaluuya). From his British accent to his anarchist punk rock personality, Hobie Brown is an incredible supporting character for Miles. The way he inserts and exits himself from situations is so smooth. I am a huge fan in the way he shows up.
Somewhere I Belong
It’s no secret that we see two Spider-Men, Miguel O’Hara and Miles Morales, at odds with one another. I won’t get into why, but I will get into how these are Spider-Men at very different points in their lives. A realist vs an optimist. Miguel has been trying to maintain order in the multiverse and cleaning up after Miles’ mess with the collider from the Into the Spider-Verse. Miguel believes Miles can’t see the big picture for a certain reason involving Miles. Oscar Isaac does a great job showcasing the frustration Miguel is dealing with in trying to keep the web of the multiverse together for Spider-People. Miles, on the other hand, is not with the shits in any capacity that Miguel is selling. Miles can’t be told shit about Miguel’s way of doing things because that shit is wild. It comes down to the choices heroes make and the choices that the universe makes for us. Miguel is an immovable object. Whereas Miles’ mother, Rio Morales (Lauren Vélez), serves as the foundation for Miles this time around.
Rio feels like the parent that’s in the forefront for this film, similar to how Miles’ father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) was in the last film. Rio wants to know what’s goin on with Miles, she’s frustrated that he ain’t saying what’s up, she sees him pulling back, but then at the same time realizes she has to give the kid space. As much as the focus of this film is on Spider-Man, the Spider-Verse franchise does an incredible job incorporating family into the story. Rio gives a speech to Miles about not letting anyone tell him where he belongs and not changing who he is if it means other’s acceptance. This ain’t any CW-type drama. This is incredibly nuanced and carefully crafted dialogue. Rio’s speech feels on par with Sally Field as Aunt May in Amazing Spider-Man giving Peter Parker the “You’re my boy” speech. Screenplay writers Chris Miller, Phil Lord, and David Callaham give every character in this film dialogue that enhances their part as the moving parts of this movie.
“Spray Paint and Ink Pens, I Use to Write in Every Color I Think in”
There’s a lot to be said about the artwork of this movie. Across the Spider-Verse feels like it’s breathing life into a comic book. You just feel like you are watching a comic book come to life on the big screen. The trippy part is when that comic you’re watching gets entangled with all these different characters whose worlds are different comic books, with different art styles, colors, and feelings. Visually, this movie is the best type of overwhelming. There’s so many intricate things going on that you are guaranteed to miss, unless you watch again. This is a movie made to be watched multiple times. The opening fight scene with the Vulture drawn in the renaissance era type of art is incredible. Seeing these different art styles for characters clash together makes this movie a beautiful mosh pit. Across the Spider-Verse had so many different artists contributing to this film, and it really shows.
Visually the movie didn’t play it safe, they really went out there and did something different with a hint of familiar. Stack that next to the soundtrack for the film, and man…this movie is just such a monster. The art and music really help as a second narrator in the film. Everything can feel so jarring and serene at various points and at the same time. It’s so hard to describe how good this film is. I know what I saw, but I keep thinking to myself, “What the hell did I just see?”. Isn’t that the mark of a great movie tho? It’s been 5 years since the first film. You can truly tell how much time went into this sequel visually. The way is long but good lord, it’s so worth it.
The biggest compliment I can give to Across the Spider-Verse isn’t even a compliment, it’s just a fact. You gotta see this shit to believe this shit. Capturing the feel of this movie in words feels impossible. You feel that it is going down one particular path, then just like with the multiverse, we see all these different canon (nexus if you nasty) points appear, and you have no idea where this shit is going. Once you arrive, you’re glad you got there tho.
Across the Spider-Verse is playing in all theaters and the finale, as rumor has it, comes out in March 2024. Go and see Miles Morales take cinema by storm on the road for best superhero trilogy.