Animation Reviews

“Across the Spider-Verse” is magnificient

I’m usually VERY apprehensive when it comes to movie sequels; for every Shrek 2 where the second is arguably more iconic than the first, there’s the unnecessary and forgettable Frozen 2. But that wasn’t the case with Spider-Man: Across the SpiderVerse. I have been looking forward to this movie since I saw Into the SpiderVerse that chilly December evening in 2018.

I waited FIVE years for this movie. I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about a film for that long. And while there was some apprehension due to rumors before the movie’s release – I’m happy to say: this movie outshines the first in many ways, except for one.

And even that I’m not upset about.


Miles Morales has been Spider-Man for about a year and a half when Gwen pays him a visit. When it’s revealed she’s part of a group of interdimensional Spider-People trying to protect the integrity of the multiverse – Miles immediately volunteers his services. He is quickly rejected by the group’s leader Miguel O’Hara (AKA Spider-Man 2099) who calls him an anomaly.

After learning that he is destined to lose his father, or risk destroying his universe and possibly all of existence – Miles is determined to change his fate.

Meanwhile, a villain called the Spot, who blames Miles for his unfortunate condition, is becoming a bigger and more terrifying threat.

The Good

This film was fucking beautiful. If I ever make a movie, I want it to look like Spider-Verse. This film filled me with awe…This is what people are capable of making. 

With all the talk of A.I. produced art, Across the SpiderVerse shows that only humans are capable of producing art. A.I. could not produce something as visually stunning as this movie. A.I. couldn’t create Spider-Punk, where each part of the character was animated at a different frame rate.

It took THREE YEARS to animated Spider-Punk, who was in the film for maybe 5 minutes total and is probably the most iconic of the new Spider-People. And the new Spider-People are probably one of the best parts of the film.

I think they get even more characterization than the Spider-Gang from the first movie. I can’t wait to see them all interact. The joyful, go-lucky Pav and the “I was always this cool” Hobie Brown both add new attitudes in the gang. And while I personally want to see Spider-Punk and Spider-Noir punch fascists together I’m just happy the gang’s back together.


While Into the Spider-Verse was all about “inclusion” and hammered home the idea that anyone can wear the mask. Meanwhile Across the SpiderVerse tries to deny that idea; Miguel AKA Spider-Man 2099 thinks of Spider-Man as a rigid role where one has to go through certain canon events.

There’s also the unspoken racism – Miles is Afro-Latino but Miguel seems to refuse the Latino side of Miles as seen when he doesn’t respond when Miles speaks Spanish. Miguel gets nearly all the Spider-People – most of whom are variations of Peter Parker, and white- to go against one teenage boy.

It’s shown as unfair and ridiculous. 

And when you think about it – Miguel is likely wrong. Whether he believes he;s correct or not – we’re shown that we can change our destiny.

There are so many other little bits of inclusion that can be discussed; the hijabi Spider-Woman, Gwen’s coding as a trans woman, all the effort going into making a punk character – actually Punk and on the side of good.

It’s amazing!

And once again we are seeing a rise in Spidersonas, people’s own representation of themselves as Spider-Man. It’s showing just how much this series is speaking to thousands, if not millions of people around the world. 

The Bad

And that’s where the issue arises. The SpiderVerse films are massively popular and therefore highly influential. The morals the writers and directors are trying to depart are important to this analysis.

I’m not the only one who has noticed how the film depicts cops with a particular reverence. While the first movie’s issue is more simple is Miles’ dad being a cop — this film changes tha. Gwen’s dad is also a cop – and clearly stated to be “one of the good ones.” Miles’ dad isn’t said to be one of the good ones, but is definitely implied to be. 

And considering the current state of *gestures vaguely* everything – the whole “Cops are good guys” isn’t really a thing people feel like should be said, especially in a story about a young Black-Latino boy.

Now that the narrative has introduced this idea along with the notion that Spider-Man has to lose a loved one who is a cop feels…weird. Particularly in the context of Hobie.

After all, he is a punk. He’s not supposed to like cops in the first place. I’ve seen several theories regarding his “canon event” and I’m currently of the opinion that he likely killed a cop. Not that they would ever confirm that in a PG-movie…

But there’s something about making good cops so integral in a story about justice – a story about Spider-Man who is meant to be a vigilante who keeps fighting for a city where many see him as a menace – that feels wrong.

And considering how Across the Spider-Verse ends, I don’t think there’s really a way to fix this theme. However, I don’t think “Cops are good” is the primary message people are going to come away from this film with.

How people interpret a film – like them thinking Miguel is in the right, or that his army knows exactly why they’re after Miles – is personal. Different people have different ways of interpreting works based on personal experience (and media literacy.)

Some people suck at it, and other people are going to see the messages this film is sending about cops, and it’ll stick with them rather than being a point of critique.

The Surprising

I’ve been seeing this trend with American “family” animated movies, most recently with Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and that’s the amount of mild cursing they’re getting away with. “Ass,” “crap” and “damn” are all said during the movie. And that’s part of my normal vocabulary…But, seriously – there definitely wasn’t this much cursing in kids’ movies in my day.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing – I mean, the first film brutally killed a man in the first 15 minutes – but there’s I don’t think there’s this much swearing in the MCU! 

Can you picture Tom Holland’s Spider-Man saying, “Maybe you should get off the kid’s ass?” Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield? Sure. But not baby-faced, joined the military-industrial complex and calls his whole team ‘Mr.’ – Peter Parker.

No way.

The Scoop

While Across the Spider-Verse expands the narrative and tackles some pretty heavy themes and has a lot of hidden analogies – the one thing it was missing was an iconic scene. There are memorable scenes and plenty of them. But there’s no emotionally impactive scene like its predecessor’s Leap of Faith sequence where Miles becomes Spider-Man.

Narratively it felt unresolved. And it ended on a cliffhanger. I mean, I had a pretty good feeling it would. I knew there are going to be three movies in the series, so it’s not a surprising choice…There’s so much about this movie I want to discuss but can’t fit into my review…Though to do a deeper analysis, I’d have to watch it again. Which I’d gladly do

Beyond the SpiderVerse is going to be intense. There’s a lot to wrap up and I cannot wait to see how they wrap everything up. And while I doubt it’s going to debut next year – simply because of how long Across the Spider-Verse took to animate…I know it’s going to be worth the wait.

You can be I’ll be there opening weekend, ready to enter the Spider-Verse one last time.

And that’s the scoop

Grade: A

Release Year: 2023

Length: 140 minutes

Producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Avi Arad, Christina Steinberg

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson

Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dave Callaham

Voice Actors: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Vélez, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Daniel Kaluuya, Mahershala Ali, Oscar Isaac

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