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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the new zenith of comic book movies

Published Jun 4th, 2023 12:06PM EDT
Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Image: Sony Pictures

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Prior to watching Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, I wrote about how Marvel Studios had potentially cracked the window open for the competition by fumbling its way through the last two phases of the MCU. After seeing the animated sequel in theaters, I now realize the team at Sony Pictures Animation is operating at an entirely different level than Marvel Studios ever has. Across the Spider-Verse is so much more than just a perfect comic book movie because these creators seem to understand better than anyone in the industry why comic books work.

Across the Spider-Verse transcends the original

When Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hit theaters in 2018, I said that it could be the start of something really special. I didn’t expect to have to wait nearly half a decade to find out how my assumption would turn out, but I’m going to chalk that one up as a W.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse builds upon everything that made the first movie such a rousing success. Despite all of the heady concepts, the innumerable Spider-People, the inflated run time (2 hours and 20 minutes!), and the frequently trippy animation, Across the Spider-Verse grounds itself by staying focused on the characters.

This movie takes the time to explore Gwen Stacy’s origin story, get us up to speed on the life of Miles Morales since we last saw him, and then introduce more than half a dozen new characters without ever skipping a beat. It might sound breathless, but the movie knows when to give you a chance to catch your breath and take in crucial plot and character development.

Spider-Woman and Spider-Man 2099 in Across the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Woman and Spider-Man 2099 in Across the Spider-Verse. Image source: Sony Pictures

I am as shocked as I am thrilled that a movie featuring no less than 100 different Spider-Men (it easily could have been ten times that) managed not to spread itself too thin. Across the Spider-Verse picks its battles wisely, both literally and figuratively, picking a few incredibly fun Spider-Man variants upon which to pivot the story while using dozens of others as gags.

But they’re more than just fan service or an extravagant gimmick. Across the Spider-Verse tears at the fabric of the entire Spider-Man canon and comic book storytelling as a whole. What better audience for that message than every Spider-Man ever created?

Pair the impressive storytelling chops of Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and David Callaham with some of the most audacious animation of any feature-length movie to ever be shown in theaters, and you can see why I have a hard time refraining from hyperbole.

While the DC Universe prepares for a wholesale reboot under James Gunn and Marvel Studios tries to get the MCU train back on the tracks, Sony Pictures Animation is not-so-quietly assembling one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. If they can stick the landing with Beyond the Spider-Verse next March, it’s hard to imagine another comic book franchise topping this one any time soon. At least until Lord and Miller choose their next hero.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.