Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best animated films released in the last decade, and arguably one of the best superhero movies ever. With that in mind, there was a fair amount of pressure on the sequel to follow such a strong initial outing. Thankfully, Sony has done just that. While Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is not perfect, it’s equal to, if not better than the original film.
Everything you loved about Into the Spider-Verse is back, and mostly better than ever. The animation is top-notch, the voice acting is superb, and the story is compelling. It’s been a couple of years since the events of the first film, and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) has really come into his own as Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) has been dealing with issues in her own universe, but all of that gets flipped on its head when Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) bursts onto the scene.
Across the Spider-Verse is a near-perfect animated film, with plenty of fan service, yet nothing too overbearing. The characters are fun and relatable, but they’re all broken in their own way. They’re all trying to figure things out, mostly on their own. It creates an emotional connection with the audience as they go along on this journey of self-discovery, and what it means to be a Spider-Person.
Every character, new and old, has plenty of big moments. Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, and Oscar Isaac are big standouts, but every character gets their chance to shine. Daniel Kaluuya’s Spider-Punk (Hobie Brown) makes a huge impression with limited screen time, almost begging for some sort of solo adventure in the future. The same goes for Andy Samberg’s very limited screen time as Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly), and Karan Soni’s scene-stealing take on Spider-Man India (Pavitr Prabhakar).
A compelling villain always goes a long way, and Spot (Jason Schwartzman) is no exception. He’s fun and endearing, yet evil to the core. Somehow Schwartzman has managed to make the character ridiculous, and entertaining, but still menacing and diabolical. Even Miles and Gwen don’t take him seriously, but he’s a huge threat by the end of the film.
There’s very little that doesn’t work in Across the Spider-Verse, but it’s at least worth mentioning some of the minor issues with the film. The first half of the movie drags a little bit in terms of pacing and focuses more than it needs to on catching people up who either haven’t seen Into the Spider-Verse or don’t remember it well. The audience is reintroduced to several main characters, which seems unnecessary in many cases.
While the pacing is a little off during the first half, the second half of the movie more than makes up for any prior shortcomings. It’s explosive and high energy, yet still dives right into the emotional core of these characters. Unfortunately, as soon as things really start to heat up, the film is over and the audience is left to wait nearly a year to see the conclusion in Beyond the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse does almost everything right. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes, and the bar is raised from the impressive first film, which is a feat in itself. It would’ve been nice to get a proper ending instead of having to wait another year for the conclusion, but it’s hard to knock a film that does everything else right.
About Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
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.
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dave Callaham
Stars: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac, Jake Johnson, Issa Rae, Brian Tyree Henry
Runtime: 2 Hours, 20 Minutes
Releases: June 2, 2023
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.