Review: The multiverse uncovered in 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'

The second installment of the animated film starring Spider-Man premieres on the big screen this Thursday, June 1.

If there's one name we all associate with Spider-Man, it's Peter Parker. Practically all the stories we know of this superhero star the young New Yorker. That was until 2018. That's when a new Spider-Man appeared, one that no one expected, especially considering that the superhero had become part of Marvel's Avengers. It was time to meet Miles Morales from Sony Pictures. The same character will appear in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse which will hit the big screen this Thursday, June 1.

Still from 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'.
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Miles Morales' story was no different from that of the other chosen ones, even though he didn't share a name: he was a misunderstood young man who was bitten by a radioactive spider that gave him superpowers. The only problem is that his name was not Peter Parker and, therefore, he should not have been given his powers. The story had changed and, in doing so, shed new light on the superhero, one completely unknown to the general public, but one that excited many. Then came Spider-Man: A New Universe, proving that the story could continue to surprise us. 

The same story in a totally new way

There is still hope that the same story will be told but in a totally surprising way. The first installment of this saga had already planted the seed. It turns out it is possible to do something completely new without forgetting the superhero's roots. That is precisely what the movie's directors, Joaquim Dos Santos and Kemp Powers, do in this second installment: prove that there is room to continue the story we all know and love but without losing that nostalgic touch.

To do this, there's nothing better than to place us in a society full of Spider-Mans, the Spider-Society, led by Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac) whom we met during the post-credits scene of the first installment. In the Spider-Society, Collider reveals, there are up to 250 Spider-People. But the spotlight still falls on the two we already know, Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacey (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld). They will be the ones who will monopolize the screen for the two hours and twenty minutes that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse lasts and they will join us while we discover, as the title of the film indicates, other worlds belonging to the multiverse.

Still from 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'.
(Sony Pictures Entertainment).

The relationship between Miles and Gwen, the heart of 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'

Their characters do not disappoint. Both have the true spirit of Spider-Man: A New Universe, while bringing something new to viewers, although often predictable. We learn that Miles has the heart of a hero, but he doesn't know what he is doing beyond being the best Spider-Man possible. We also learned what traumatized Gwen, leading her to become the cold woman we know all too well from the first installment. This second installment helps us to understand her better.

There are high expectations for The Spot, the villain in this second installment. We're expecting to see a villain who will bring the much-expected touch of humor but who does more than just spout gags and prove that he is nothing more than "the bad guy of the week," a title given to him by Miles and which, unfortunately, takes away from his character. However, it is still too early to say, as his appearance in this version could be a mere introduction to something planned for a later date.

Miguel will be back. The leader of the Spider-Society voiced by Oscar Isaac has so much more to offer than what is included in this installment. His character is concerned about keeping the multiverse intact and, although the plot has an amazing backstory, viewers will sense something is missing. It's clear what motivates him, but something tells us that we don't know everything about the character. That won't disappoint viewers, it will actually leave them wanting more.

Still from 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'.
(Sony Pictures Entertainment).

The importance of good animation design

Miguel is also essential for getting to know a multiverse that plays such a special role in the movie's animation. One thing is for sure, the visual effects are outstanding. The animators faced a difficult challenge, they had to build new worlds and they had to show that the characters had grown as they devised new ways to introduce, in completely different ways, all the new characters.

They nailed it. The effects that earned Spider-Man: A New Universe the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2019 are a thing of the past. But not to worry, the future of the Spiderman movies is full of possibilities. If Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse proves anything, it is that this saga still has a lot of awards to win and a lot of audiences to win over.