Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse Spoiler-Free Review
Five years ago, Phil Lord and Chris Miller blew the world away with Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. That movie was a watershed moment, serving as a love letter to Spider-Man and pushing the boundaries of what can be done with animation on the big screen. After five years of waiting, we’ve been blessed with the long-awaited sequel, Across the Spiderverse. It would be an understatement to say that it surpassed its already stellar predecessor. If Into the Spiderverse took Spider-Man to the sky, then Across the Spiderverse brought things into the stratosphere!
The movie’s so good that I can’t be content with writing a single review for it. Therefore, I’m splitting things in two. Keep reading here for my spoiler-free review, or click here to read my spoiler review for the movie.
Miles Morales Continues to Write His Own Story
More than a year has passed since the events of Into the Spiderverse, and Miles Morales has grown further into his role as his Universe’s Spider-Man. Like many Spiders, though, he struggles with the ever-present problem of balancing his personal life and his job as the webhead. It also doesn’t help that he misses his fellow Spiders, especially Gwen Stacy. When a new, seemingly joke villain emerges, Miles finds himself dragged into a Universe-Hopping adventure that will test him like never before. Except it’s not just the villain he has to fight but the people that are supposed to be on his side.
Of course, we already knew that from the trailers, right?
Once again, it’s great to see this version of Miles Morales back on the big screen, and he continues to prove why he’s so great as Spider-Man. Considering how this film contains hundreds upon hundreds of Spiders, that’s saying something! He’s far more confident in himself and his ability to be the hero, to the point where he uses his powers to surprise everyone around him continually. However, he’s also struggling with keeping his identity a secret from his parents. He desperately wants to tell them, but his counterparts tell him this is a bad idea. It’s not what Spider-Man does; bad things happen when they go against this.
Herein lies the central conflict of the film, and it’s something that I adored seeing being put into practice: going against the grain and defining one’s own story.
Can a Spider-Man Defy Canon and Get Away With It?
Almost every incarnation of Spider-Man or Spider-Woman has several defining moments they share across every reality. They get their powers, lose someone important that inspires them to be heroes, and face several other tragedies. Like many fans worried after seeing the trailers, Miles discovers he may lose his Dad. (It’s made pretty obvious, so it’s not a spoiler!)
The film shows how tragic loss seems so ingrained into the concept of being Spider-Man, to the point where fans expect it to happen. The idea of a Spider being able to avoid a tragic loss that defines them further seems so inconceivable that reality itself can’t seem to accept this. Miles response to that, though: “Nah. I’m gonna do my own thing.” And I support him every step of the way.
I don’t know about everyone else, but after watching No Way Home, I’ve become fed up seeing Spider-Man suffer so much in every incarnation. After everything the Spiders do across the multiverse, it seems almost cruel to continue to see them lose loved ones in the most painful fashions. However, despite everyone saying otherwise, Miles thinks he can change things for himself, and I wholeheartedly support this idea. It would be almost unprecedented in the history of Spider-Man if he pulled it off and opened the door to new storytelling possibilities.
That, and I think defying destiny and winning, is metal as heck.
A Masterpiece of Animation and Storytelling
Whatever else I need to say about Across the Spiderverse can be expressed in my spoiler review. You need to know that this film is too good for a mere five-star rating system. The fantastic story is merely the beginning. There’s also the incredible animation and artwork put into this film. The movie had more than a thousand people working on all aspects of it, and it shows how gorgeous everything is. Every frame of the film is good enough to be framed as a painting in an art museum.
That’s just the world’s background, too. Many of the characters are meant to be visually different from each other, a reflection of the dimensions that they come from. The contrast becomes more apparent when said characters leave their home dimensions to interact with each other. Even a few live-action characters are thrown into the midst, giving the film an almost Roger Rabbit feel at times. I’ve always been a fan of combining visual mediums, so seeing 2D animated characters interact with CGI characters or live-action actors was a delight to witness.
What all of this means that the people working on the film had to work with multiple different animation styles. Six in total, apparently. Such a task would seem too jarring or impossible for other films to pull off, but Across the Spiderverse does just that. And it works! Seeing it flow together is a testament to what animation’s capable of as time goes on.
This Film is Spider-Man’s ‘Empire’
The one gripe I know some fans will have is regarding the ending. The movie ends on a big cliffhanger with many things unresolved and the big bad yet to be stopped. So, if you’re going into this film and expecting everything to be resolved by the time the credits roll, you will be disappointed.
Thahkfully, this isn’t the end of the story. It’s already been announced that there will be a third film, Beyond the Spiderverse, and it’s release is close than you think. From what I hear, it’s meant to come out in March 2024, less than a year from now. In other words, we won’t have to wait long.
They say that out of all the Star Wars films ever made, The Empire Strikes Back was the best one, and that ended with many significant revelations and plot threads needing to be resolved. In this regard, Across the Spiderverse is Spider-Man’s ‘Empire.’ Much like that film, it’s fit to be called one of the greatest films of all time. This movie will be included in the Congressional Archives one day; we must preserve it for future generations! If you still need to see it, make plans to see it. It will be time and money well spent!