After Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse showcased teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in New York City navigating his youth and new supernatural abilities, fans clamored for more. Enter the sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, that continues Miles’ story but explores so much more in the multiverse. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has plenty of surprises with dynamic animation and a story that debates destiny versus Terminator 2 quote, “No fate but what we make for ourselves.”
Miles’ life as Spider-Man isn’t breezy, but it’s good. His father, Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry), no longer tracks him as a cop. But amidst the Brooklyn heroics, Miles struggles. He has no one to turn to for advice, and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and his Peter B. Parker mentor (Jake Johnson) are gone to their respective worlds. On top of that, though his grades are excellent, there is a conflict with his parents. His mother, Rio (Luna Laruen Velez), has expectations for his future that conflict with his own. Plus, Miles wants to tell his parents who he is but fears their reaction and his fear isn’t unwarranted.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Deals with Expectations
When Miles learns of the community of Spider-People across the multiverse, he wants to join, hoping to find connection and belonging. Sadly he’s in for a rude awakening as, rather than finding himself a member; he winds up in conflict with all the others. It’s like joining a job, organization, or team to find your people, only to feel more alone. Miles’ disappointment is palpable and made me think of places I joined for a community that had anything but. Writers Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Dave Callaham craft a story with many interconnected parts that complement the blend of animation styles.
Loss Is A Requirement in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
In the previous film, they mention that they all had to suffer loss. Think Boys From Brazil but instead of manufacturing events to create Spider-Man, destiny crafts the circumstances. People debate canon left, right, and center online for comics and manga, the funniest of which was the Batman and Catwoman debate that Zach Snyder settled hilariously. Here, tragedy is canon. Though the other Spider-People experienced this, Miles challenges this expectation that to don the mask means to suffer loss.
Choices and Looming Conflicts
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse takes the concept of people—parents, teachers, mentors—telling kids their future and makes it grander. Settling for others’ expectations or crafting your own path is relatable for all ages. There’s always someone dictating what’s possible based on a person’s identity. With all this, it’s a coming-of-age story for Miles and Gwen.
The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) is laughable in the trailer and film, but the danger is real. Then there’s Miguel (Oscar Isaac), determined to stop Miles to save the multiverse, blurring the lines between hero and villain. Sometimes it just comes down to where you are standing and how much trauma from tragedy informs your choices or clouds them. There are laughs but much more than lighthearted fun in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Marvelous Cast and Need More of Them
The main cast continues to deliver with the voiceover acting, bringing each character to life. But there are Spider-Man newcomers to the multiverse who need to get a shoutout, like Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), who I loved and hope to see more of in the next film. Daniel Kaluuya as Hobie Brown brought a smile to my face. Punk-rock anarchy might be my love language. Another divine character is Karin Soni as Pavitr Prabhakar. Incredibly, each Spider-Man is distinct despite their similarities. You never mistake one for another, and the animation drives that home.
Believing “this is the way it’s done” can give comfort when tragedy strikes. But it prevents possibilities. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse shows a spark of hope from a newcomer who can challenge old beliefs and craft a new future brighter than what came before. The animation is the most stunning and unique style in Western animation, and the music makes me recall how much I used to love movie soundtracks. Part of the small club of sequels that surpass the original, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is broader in scope, grandeur, and animation. No one else in doing animation and storytelling like this and it’s a gut punch that leaves you clamoring for the next swing.