Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the antithesis of superhero fatigue
Building upon the foundations laid by 2018's groundbreaking Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the long-awaited sequel exceeds all expectations and delivers a truly amazing film full of heart and emotion.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse picks up many months after the first film as Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy try to balance their personal and superhero lives in their respective universes. Following an encounter with Spider-Man 2099, Gwen gets recruited into a society of Spider-People who protect the multiverse. Avoiding spoiler territory, what follows is a cross-dimensional adventure for safeguarding the stability of the multiverse, with Miles playing a central role in it all.
The film takes its time to get to all the multiversal shenanigans, as a good portion of the film explores the key aspects which make classic Spider-Man stories so good – the balancing act and grounded stakes. We get more insight into the lives of Gwen and Miles, and how being superheroes affects their relationships with their families. Even when the film starts dealing with the grand multiversal threat, the stakes which tie it all together are deeply personal. This is evident in the villain as well, The Spot, who initially starts off seemingly as another "villain of the week" (as the film itself points out many times) but slowly develops into a multi-layered character with a compelling enough backstory.
The art style and animation are astonishing, which is to be expected considering the previous film won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The innovative visual direction is one to behold, with each Spider-Man and Spider-Woman and their respective universes having their own distinctive art style. The film replicates the comic book feeling as if each universe is meant to be from a different book drawn by different artists.
In the case of most superhero movies, it is easy to not care about all the action as the stakes never seem to carry that much weight despite being so grand. But in the case of this movie, the personal stakes coupled with the spectacular animation make the action sequences enthralling enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The pacing of the movie might be my only real criticism. As mentioned earlier, the film starts off slowly dealing with the more grounded subplots. But halfway through, after a certain point, the plot gets very intense with a lot of things happening concurrently. Nevertheless, it is a minor gripe and is not that detrimental to the overall experience.
The overarching narrative as well as the subplots are incredibly compelling and emotional. There are plenty of comedic moments sprinkled in between as well as very exciting cameos and references which should please diehard fans and casual viewers alike.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, much like its predecessor, not only serves as a love letter to the character of Spider-Man, but to comics and the superhero genre as a whole. Unlike most modern superhero media, this film breaks away from senseless action to provide gripping character work surrounded by nuanced personal stories. Whenever there is action, it does not feel senseless but rather deserving. Very few superhero adaptations manage to break the mould as the Spider-Verse movies have done. It is, by all means, the antithesis of "superhero fatigue", proving that the genre can still achieve new heights at the hands of dedicated writers and creators.
Sabil spends most of his time trying to stay as hopeful as possible. You can contact him at [email protected]