Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Pushing the superhero boundaries

While I generally eschew superhero movies these days (because, well, what’s the point?), I nevertheless caught a screening of 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse and thought it was great! Returning the Spidey-franchise back to its comic-book roots was brilliant.

In the first movie, teenager Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) is Spider-Man, but only in this particular universe. He discovers other parallel worlds, each of which has its own Spider-Person, and joins forces with five other Spideys to battle a common threat.

Stand-alone this one? Nope. In fact you are expected to know the back story very well, as this just picks up where that one left off. Miles meets even more fellow wall-crawlers (Lego Spider-Man, the pregnant motorcyclist Spider-Woman, an Indian Spidey, a VR Spider-Byte, a Punk Rocker, and even a Nicolas Cage version. Gotta love it.) In one scene, there’s a whole city populated by nothing but Spider-Beings.

But relax. If you’re not teenage enough to follow the story, you can just sit back and enjoy the astounding, kaleidoscopic animation. The crew went above and beyond just recreating a comic-book vibe.  It shreds the fabric of conventional comic lore and then knits it back together in a way that’s all new yet makes perfect sense. It’s like visiting a museum. A shoo-in for (another) animated feature Oscar. It’s also quite funny, offers some solid social commentary, and packs an emotional punch.

Of course it sets up a second sequel, as the action just stops before anything is resolved. In fact this is being billed as a “two-movie” sequel. I’d say something cynical here, but the material is just too good to mock. I hope it sticks the landing with the next film. (130 min)