It is rare for the second part of a trilogy to be superior to the first. The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2, The Winter Soldier. Perhaps The Godfather Part II. We can add Across the Spider-Verse to this list.
And this, even if Into the Spider-Verse is irreproachable and was awarded the Oscar for best animated film in 2019. Before diving into the analysis of its sequel, let’s return to the genius of the initial chapter.
No other superhero movie, live-action or animated, has brought the spirit of the comics to the screen so well. From thought bubbles to Benday stitches to juxtaposing planks; the visual details are incredibly rich. The different drawing and animation styles, the countless references to pop culture (and comics), a coherent and fragmented multiverse. Not to mention a story filled with phenomenal action and wonderful characters. Everything is flawless.
So how can Across the Spider-Verse be any better? To give a short and colorful answer, it’s as if screenwriters Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Dave Callaham opened the door to the world they created after only allowing us to look out the window.
The film directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson begins with a clever recap of previous events. For your benefit – and for the last time – here is a summary: Bitten by a radioactive spider, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teenager from Brooklyn, New York, develops superpowers. He witnesses a fight between Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, and supervillains trying to activate an interdimensional portal. Peter partially prevents them, saves Miles, but loses his life. The portal’s brief opening still causes breaches that bring “Spider-People” from various universes into Miles’ world. The group teams up in order to permanently destroy the path to other dimensions.
Unsurprisingly, not all leaks have been sealed. The biggest is The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), a man covered in portals who holds Miles responsible for his fate. In order to exact his revenge, he travels through the universes in order to increase his power.
Made aware of his intentions, the Spider Society, a brigade led by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), alias Spider-Man 2099, sets out to find him. Miles’ good friend, Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), is a new member of the team. This second chapter takes the time to tell the story of the latter well. We dwell on the relationship with her father, the impact of the death of her best friend and why Miles is so important to her.
This one, now 15 years old, struggles to juggle his life as a student and a superhero. His relationship with his parents pays the price, but he can’t stop the lies. These typical issues of the works of Spider-Man have never been so well told. The chat scenes between the characters are all beautifully written and allow you to catch your breath between the chases and the dizzying fights.
There’s a whole lot going on, and there are Spider-Mans as far as the eye can see in Across the Spider-Verse. Then, towards the end, the dust settles and everything becomes clear.
Theses will be written on the quality and variety of animation. The flowing watercolor during an emotional scene and the whole character of Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) are among the masterstrokes of the Sony Pictures Animations studio. The mix of contemporary music featuring renowned artists such as Metro Boomin and James Blake is sublime. The humour, which is as generous towards geeks as it is towards audiences of all ages, is perfectly balanced and delivered in a beautiful way by all the talented actors in the credits.
After this tornado of colors, we leave with a feeling that we have all experienced before: the strength of friendship. And we can’t wait to see how the friends fare in Beyond the Spider-Verse, due March 29, 2024.