Warning: This post contains spoilers from Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse
I recently dropped by my local theater to check out the latest Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-verse. It’s been a full five years since we were introduced to animated Miles Morales and the premise of the Spiderverse on the big screen. We first meet young Miles in ‘Into The Spider-verse’ as he’s just an everyday kid in Brooklyn learning how to navigate through the stresses of teenage life, when he’s bit by a radioactive spider and granted the powers of Spider-Man. While the first film did a great job of building this vast “Spider-verse” and setting up the conflicts we see in the sequel, ‘Across The Spider-verse’ takes everything the first film did well, and builds upon it in every major way. The stakes are higher, the enemies are bigger, and the Spider-verse got more complex than ever. While we’ve had several Spider-Man films over the last several years, I believe Across The Spider-verse is the best Spider-Man movie ever.
For starters, in dealing with something as vast and sprawling as the multiverse, we have been conditioned to understand that anything is possible across different timelines. Because of this, we get to see several different versions of Spider-Man. Marvel could’ve decided to make several different versions of Peter Parker and call it quits, but instead, they made sure to build a universe in the movie that is as diverse as the real world. As such, we get to see Spider-Men and Spider-Women, Black, Asian, and Latin characters stepping into the mantle, and all of them coming from different walks of life. Seeing so many different variations of Spider-Man is a huge deal because as cliche as it sounds, representation definitely matters. I remember watching the trailer for ‘Into The Spider-verse’ for the first time and seeing my son’s eyes light up because Miles looked like him.
Where ‘Into The Spider-verse’ went a bit more cartoonish with the other Spider-people, Across The Spider-verse gave us more individuality. Hobie Brown was Spider-Punk, but under the mask, he’s an anti-establishment black British teen, Miguel brings a massively brooding presence, while also highlighting his Latin heritage, Gwen masterfully represents the girl next door, while Pavitr Prabhakar represents our Asian brothers and sisters. As diversity and representation continue to be at the forefront of discussions in Hollywood and across society, I think Spider-Man: ATS really knocks it out of the park.
The easter eggs and callbacks in Spider-Man: ATS were also top-notch, and did a superb job of tying every era of Spider-Man together. One of the cooler moments in the movie happens right after we get introduced to the Spider society, and Miles comes face to face with another version of The Prowler. Ironically enough, this Prowler is played by none other than Donald Glover, who also happens to play a pre-Prowler version of Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming. There’s also a scene in which Miles is talking to his roommate Ganke, and we see a faint glimpse of the Insomniac Spider-Man video game playing in the background. In addition to those, there was a really cool moment where Miguel is showing the timeline of all Spider-People to Miles including very emotional moments, which are referred to as canon events. As Miguel explains the importance of these canon events to Miles, we’re treated to a who’s who of Spider-men from all across the Spider-verse. We see highlights of several versions of Spider-Man, including live-action Andrew Garfield, mourning over the loss of Captain Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve never seen a movie so effortlessly blend each different era, actor, and genre of a character together, but again ATS absolutely kills it.
Lastly, the character development in this film reaches far above and beyond most live-action films I’ve seen, let alone an animated feature. While Miles has obviously grown more powerful and confident in his abilities as Spider-Man, he’s still also wildly reckless and at times, irresponsible. It’s easy to forget that Miles, like MOST of the characters on-screen is still a teenager, and despite the massive amount of power he has, his mental maturity is constantly tested. The conflict between Gwen and her father almost directly parallels that of the conflict between Miles and his parents, with the biggest difference being we actually see Gwen fess up and unmask. Miguel struggles with the consequences of his actions as he comes to grips with the reality that he could be directly responsible for the death of his family, and Hobie… well Hobie is just cool as hell, always. Watching the story progress, and witnessing how masterfully this movie was written made me frustrated by the time the movie was over. Not because I hated it, but more because I was bummed the story had wrapped — for the moment at least.
Spider-Man: Across The Spiderverse is the best Spider-Man movie ever. Combining heightened drama, an excellent story, and stellar continuity, I can’t see any other franchise coming close anytime soon — or ever for that matter. Despite the super cliffhanger ending, I’m still pumped to see how the story ends as I’m more invested in this character than any previous version of Spider-Man before it. Hopefully, it won’t take another five years to see it.