Movie review: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ dives into the madness of the multiverse

As much as I loved Avengers: Infinity War and was blown away by how epic it was, my favorite movie back in 2018 was actually Into the Spider-Verse. The trailers caught my attention, and when I went to see it in theaters, I fell absolutely in love with every aspect of that film. Miles Morales voiced by Shameik Moore is now my favorite version of Spider-Man, and I adored the beautifully stylized animation of the movie. It managed to be exciting, funny, and emotional, and it’s not just one of my favorite superhero movies, it’s one of my favorite movies, period. 

Needless to say, the sequel Across the Spider-Verse was one of my most-anticipated movies of 2023, and there was a lot of pressure on this film to live up to my sky-high expectations and level of anticipation. 

It’s been several days since I saw the movie, and I’ve only had a chance to watch it once. My initial feeling is that the first film is still my favorite. There was just something extra magical about that film, and even though it has elements of the multiverse, it overall felt like a more intimate and narrowly-focused origin story that allowed Miles to really shine as a character coming into his own as a superhero. 

There’s a lot going on in Across the Spider-Verse, and sometimes Miles gets a little lost in the action. We’ve plunged fully into the multiverse at this point, and there are a lot of different threads to keep track of. However, that might be me feeling a little extra picky because the first film is so special to me. I still had a lot of fun watching Across the Spider-Verse and it’s my favorite blockbuster I’ve seen so far this summer. 

The animation in the sequel is still incredible, and every frame feels like a work of art. This is a beautiful movie, and one that very much deserves to be seen on as big a screen as you can find (I’d love for my second viewing to be in IMAX, if possible). 

It was great to see Miles Morales return as Spider-Man, while also trying to juggle a normal life as a teenager. (He’s struggling a bit, but what teenager wouldn’t? Being a superhero is a big responsibility!) 

Once again, I love the dynamic with his parents, voiced by Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Vélez. Miles loves his parents, but his secret superhero identity is naturally causing some tension. He wants to tell them the truth, but he’s afraid how they’ll react, especially his father, who works as a police officer. 

Hailee Steinfeld also returns as Gwen Stacy, and the film ends up focusing on her story just as much as Miles. Maybe that’s part of what threw me off a bit. I like Gwen as a character but I was wanting more Miles and I felt like sometimes his story got a little lost in between Gwen’s subplot and all the multiverse shenanigans. Then again, I could be completely fine with the existing balance on future rewatches; this is just my current impression. 

Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker is back as well, and I enjoyed seeing him again, even though he doesn’t play as large a role in this story. 

Oscar Isaac joins the cast as Miguel O’Hara / Spider-Man 2099, a “ninja vampire” version of Spider-Man (seriously, how cool is that?). I love Oscar Isaac and will never complain about hearing his voice onscreen. I don’t want to say too much more about his character and spoil the story, but let’s just say he’s an interesting addition.

I didn’t find the newer Spider-Man characters as immediately charming as the gang from the original film (Spider-Man Noir voiced by Nicolas Cage was just fantastic), but there are some fun cameos and literally the most versions of Spider-Man you will probably ever see onscreen. I particularly enjoyed seeing a cat Spider-Man and a T-Rex Spider-Man, and you better believe that I will be actively looking for merch featuring these two characters. 

As for the MCU tie-ins, I feel a bit mixed. I enjoyed seeing them, but at the same time, they weren’t necessarily needed. I’m OK with these Spider-Verse films existing in their own universe, especially since the MCU’s current foray into the multiverse has been a bit rocky. 

I feel like I’ve said about all I can say on this film without heading into spoiler territory, so it’s probably best to wrap things up here. 

Closing thoughts: Into the Spider-Verse is still one of my all-time favorite movies, and even though Across the Spider-Verse didn’t top the experience I had watching the original, this new chapter was still a very fun movie that was worth seeing, and I’m excited for part 3 of this series next year. 

Also, I am so thrilled that the new movie opened to $120.5 million, more than tripling the first film’s debut. That’s incredible, and a true testament to the positive word of mouth surrounding the original. It even topped Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s opening weekend last month, which I didn’t foresee but I feel is well deserved. (This might inspire some debate, but I do think Across the Spider-Verse is a better film than GOTG Vol. 3 – and also Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, now that we’re on the topic.)

More animated supehero films, please, and I can’t wait to see Miles Morales again!

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