Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, new title for the big screen in the saga dedicated to the new Spider-Man Miles Morales – comic book character Marvel Comics born in 2011 from the mind of Brian Michael Bendis and the pencils of the very Italian Sara Pichelli – arrives in Italian cinemas to remind us that, if supported by ideas and a singular and unique vision,cinema can do anything.
Sequel of the Academy Award for the animation Spider-Man: A New Universe and, since we like predictions already a very likely winner of the next animated statuette (which would still represent a fairly historic achievement, given the Academy’s renowned aversion to sequels), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the masterpiece that traditional animation was waiting to raise the bar and respond to Pixar’s CGI works and Guillermo Del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio (here is our review of Pinocchio by Guillermo Del Toro). The director, in recent days, has been among the first to incense the new Sony film through his social channels: bravo Guillermone.
And if Dreamworks, just a few months ago, charmed us with another great sequel, Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish, also with rather dark undertones, Across the Spider-Verse changes the rules of the game and opens wide the doors of animation for the current decade.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, a Multiverse of Possibilities.
Declaredly inspired by The Empire Strikes Back (those who can/want to understand, understand), from a narrative point of view Across the Spider-Verse stands to A New Universe, to trivialize it in Marvelian terms, as Doctor Strange in the Madness Multiverse stood to Spider-Man: No Way Home. If, in fact, in the first episode of the animated saga the Spider-Men from other dimensions arrived in Miles’ universe (as did the villains of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield themselves in the film with Tom Holland) in this sequel it is Miles (like Doctor Strange in his, of sequels) who travels through new alternate realities.
The big difference is that, through animation, and against a massive budget ($100 million, higher than that of the first episode), the team led by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (screenwriters to direct newcomers Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson, but also producers and basically deus ex machina of the franchise) had the only limitation of their own imagination (and of the minute length: at 2.20 hours, Across the Spider-Verse is the longest-running Hollywood animated film ever).
Ambitious and relentless, this work of pop art is a challenge to the gaze of the viewer, as irrepressible and unattainable as the stunts of its protagonist, relentless in filling the frame space with details (or references to the world of Spider-Man), provide images with an unusual dynamism even by animated film standards, creating from time to time new worlds in which to dive (each dimension traversed by the protagonist is presented to us in a different animation style, ranging from the watercolor style of the world of Gwen Stacy to the futuristic one of Spider-Man 2099, inspired by the art of Syd Mead).
The pinnacle of Miller & Lord’s animation.
As in Avatar: The Way of the Water, this Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is something never seen before and at the same time the crowning achievement of everything Miller & Lord have done so far with animation, from The Lego Movie to The Mitchells vs. The Machines. But within its radical graphic layout, Across the Spider-Verse hides a moving story and, as befits any self-respecting chapter two, one that is more mature and (overused term, we apologize) darker than that of its predecessor.
Never dull and all dedicated to character development, especially those of Gwen and Miles and their possible impossible romance (we can rightly speak of two protagonists), those of the parents of the two protagonists, and also the new villain Spot (literally a comic speck destined to become increasingly important as the story progresses), the narration of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is also maximizing franchise concept (here renamed ‘Canon’).
A maximization both theorized and put into practice: A Spider-Man movie that includes all of the Spider-Man movies, and who is able not only to reason about the eternal power of the mythical character created by Stan Lee but also to extend its myth and take it a little further, across the spider-verse.
The cliffhanger ending (not a spoiler: Lord & Miller had already put their hands on it) refers back to Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, the final chapter in the saga (?) coming in April 2024 (we will discuss the title in the podcast because, going back to predictions, we already have some theories about it): an ending that may perhaps be able to resolve Miles’ story, but is unlikely (having been made at the same time as this chapter) to be able to To astound and to make an impression as Across the Spider-Verse did..