Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

‘Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ is pure art

5 mins read

“Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse” is perfect in every way, and it’s due to its unlimited supply of creativity. It’s visually stunning, rich in detail, expressive in narrative and a pure cinematic achievement.

The beauty of this sequel is that Sony, and Marvel, manifest the value of wearing the mask while showing us how our choices define us, how every person is capable of greatness just by being yourself, and what the legacy of Spider-Man truly embodies. 

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Sony and Marvel took the simple blueprint from “Into The Spider-Verse” and went a step forward by explaining how the first film was what it meant to be Spider-Man while trying to balance the humanity of the person behind the mask. Of course, we understand our heroes act as beacons of hope and inspiration. Still, it’s safe to admit that Miles’s character has always been the audience, and it’s incredible to understand the value of knowing any story can be told. 

“Spider-Verse 2” fleshes out other characters, like Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who continues to embody the character with unlimited charm and become the film’s heart. Steinfeld is so good; the dialogue allows her portrayal of Gwen to take center stage, and her chemistry with Miles is perfect.

I enjoyed being transported to many new environments throughout the film, such as Mumbattan, a blend of Mumbai and Manhattan. The lobby, the central nucleus for all the Spider-Society, was expansive and oozed pure moments of audience delight as credible fan service. As well as other close details that many will notice as easter eggs, which are plentiful throughout Across The Spider-Verse, it’s safe to admit a lot were crowd-pleasers and honored the integrity and fabled lore of our favorite web slingers.

For example, Gwen’s world is a living portrait; the enviroment is a blend of pastel art, constantly adapting based on mood akin in execution to a mood ring. It’s pretty creative because Gwen is the narrator, allowing the audience to resonate with the character and find attachment in her chapter. I remember feeling entranced and letting my mind wander in pure amazement seeing every frame transition into the next and the colors always moving. 

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Some other small details I noticed regarding Gwen are that she has a background in ballet or dance because, as a contributor, Kaitlyn Rooney brought to my attention that shoes were once ballet shoes. When using her acrobatics, she would land on pointe, though, as the character is exposed to tragedy, which many will acknowledge as a role reversal of classic spidey comics, as quite clever. Still, it’s painful to see her self-confidence and identity stripped away once she dons the mask and then see a sense of change when she goes from pristine white ballet shoes to a pair of teal Converse, relaying the audience a sense of growth and individuality. It’s a quick blink-and-miss moment that bears weight because knowing that each variation of Spider-Man has a different method of creating the patent costume is genius and a tip of the cap to the writers. 

One thing to note and mention is that Spider-Verse 2 goes from different genres and finds success in letting the camera and animation create the story. At times one could notice that the camera hangs on the characters, and zooms in on faces, at times of emotion, confession, or pain. It’s a subtle note that will help give layers and require multiple viewings to enjoy this cinematic achievement fully. 

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

In addition to Gwen taking center stage throughout the story, it’s still shown that this is Miles’s perspective, and it’s brilliant because, once again, we are shown Miles’ world and his background. We see his environment. His parents speak in Spanish without subtitles, just like in the Insomniac video game, and for many, it’s a sense of familiarity and a moment of vital representation on the silver screen. I enjoyed all the little elements that made every character stand out and feel unique.

For example, in portions of the runtime, the camera acts as narrator and provides context to Miles at various points during his life. For example, his school apartment with Ganke feels like a college dorm room. There are posters, a meta-reference to another Spidey upcoming Project, whereas his room at his parent’s house is full of signs, action figures on the shelf, and his keyboard and sketches; all vital elements of who Miles is and longs to be. 

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Miles and Gwen have a similar amount of direction, and how his role (Shameik Moore) carries the film is a beautiful commentary on knowing you can achieve greatness by staying true to your morals and being yourself. He is perfect with his delivery and the ability to bring the character of Miles to life. Moore displays a sense of comfort and range with his portrayal through this film. It’s refreshing to know that Marvel understands and respects why the character of Miles Morales is exceptional and worthy of exposure. 

Jake Johnson as Peter B Parker was incredible in other notable performances. I loved seeing how the film utilizes and showcases character development that almost all the characters from its predecessor underwent. Other newcomers that were a joy to witness were Daniel Kaluuya as Spider-Punk or Hobie Brown, and how the character was a blend of hand-cut, pasted, and drawn animation that would shift constant frames during his tenure on screen. I did enjoy his portrayal and placement during the narrative.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Still, I hope he and Pavitr Prabhakar(Karani Soni) get more screen time because both were incredible in the film, and I felt they were underutilized and held back at times. I also felt Spider-Woman Jess Drew(Issa Rae) was great, but it was easy to notice her role was also diminished, but I hope these characters will be further explored in the third film. However, the constant animation styles being shown simultaneously was a miracle and a reflection of how far animation has grown and what the future could hold. 

Of course, a hero is only good as their villains, and Spider-Verse 2 toys with the concept of villains and the morally grey. I feel that Spider-Man 2099, aka Miguel O’ Hara’s(Oscar Issac) placement, does feel to toy with the idea of being the hero but being affected by the tragedy, a central theme that the film brings up at significant points of the story. Issac comes off strong, broken, a shell, trying to fill a void.

Still, it works because his isolation displays a brutal theme of the legacy of Spider-Man being born through tragedy and that the strongest sacrifices require the strongest will, giving a new layer to Spidey’s pain every time a wallcrawler dons the mask. Relaying to the audience going full circle on what it means to take up the oath and wearing the mask being the symbol they hope and strive to be.

I will admit I enjoyed how the Spot started as an illusion of comic relief for the film but became a visual feast of how the unlimited creativity now at the disposal of animators is insane. First, the character starts simple, and then as the film goes on, Jason Schwartzman lets loose and devolves into a monster, filled with insanity and a fiery rage, digging into the psychological delirium, trimming the threads binding Miles to the multiverse. It’s a scary moment but could also be interpreted as a foreshadowing of how this story could end—essentially setting the table for what could be a new formula and discussion on how to write and display a villain.

Across The Spider-Verse did feature an incredible soundtrack that was brought to life and featured a variety of iconic Spidey themes from not only the realm of classic cartoons but, to an extent, past films and even the webhead’s adventures in gaming. Composer Daniel Pemberton entrances the audience with a score that feels like a perfect mixture of jazz with a hint of punk and a sci-fi multiversal flair. It’s truly a work of art. Though artist Metro Boomin also gave a sense of elevation and helped carry the film with an incredible soundtrack that felt perfectly placed to each story beat and action sequence.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

“Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse” is a fantastic film that honors the entire history and creation of Spider-Man. Enshrined by the late great Stan Lee as an escape and moral reflection to let the audience witness the amazing fantasy of being transported into the living comic book we create in our memory. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Brendan Rooney

Brendan Rooney has always been full of creativity and enthusiasm toward the world of widespread media. He is also a passionate comic book fan along with a die-hard sports pedigree. Brendan has written various articles covering all topics and dreams of forging a long-lasting legacy by bringing respect to the Rooney name as either a teacher, journalist, or whatever else the future holds. His work has been featured on Google, Quoted by Marvel Games, Reshared by Movie Trades, Broken exclusives, Spoke and presented at syndicated academic conferences as well.

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