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Home > Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023): A Review

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023): A Review

across the spider-verse

A True Comic Book Visualization

Welcome to a full immersion into the live-action pages of a comic book! Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse starts and ends with a character whom fans weren’t expecting to be the main touch point of the story. With defined graphics and an organized cacophony of sound—enhanced by Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos—the Sony-Marvel-Columbia Pictures film gets chaotic at times but, nevertheless, intelligently forces its audience to keep up with its bullet-train pace. 

It’s been more than a year since fans last saw Miles Morales, a.k.a. Spider-Man (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Now, Brooklyn’s family-friendly teen superhero is back, and he reunites with his love interest, Gwen Stacy, a.k.a. Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfield). After Miles’ nemesis, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), wreaks havoc everywhere, Gwen unwillingly teams up with her fellow spider hero to defeat the enemy. But the battle comes at a huge cost. 

Miles and Gwen travel into the Multiverse together, where Miles learns that there are countless Spider-People walking around different earths as part of the Spider Society—led by the aggressive and hard-to-believe Spider-Man, Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac)—which reveals that just like every other Spider-Man that has existed, Miles might meet a similar fate in his personal life as they did.  

An Effortlessly Comical Comic

Whether a fan or a newcomer to the animated action franchise, Across the Spider-Verse is even funnier than, daresay, the live-action Spider-Man films. Everyone knows the story of the kid who gets bitten by a spider and becomes the friendly neighborhood hero, whose wit and charm easily wins over audiences. So, comedy is essential to the character’s framework. And that’s exactly what the cast and crew understood from the get-go. 

Miles’ parents, Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) and Rio (Luna Lauren Velez), immediately bring the humor to the story. Velez’s Luna has a sass and wit that’s impossible not to empathize with, and Henry’s Jefferson may seem like a hard-ass, but his laugh-out-loud moments make up for his strict parenting. 

Aside from the main characters, the tension between the Spider-People and Miles is tangible toward the end, so humor is definitely needed here. Several brief yet effective moments between the Spider-Society members provide the perfect pause from the drama; they cause a slight ripple in the fast-paced action by bringing in effortless comedy. It’s difficult not to laugh along with the brilliant screenwriting. 

Defined Visuals

Yes, all Spider-Man films are based on the comic books. But Across the Spider-Verse knew it had to up the ante for die-hard fans. The production was tasked with bringing the pages of the comics to a screen, and they understood the assignment. 

From the little definitive blurbs that quickly define a term for the audience, to the in-and-out invisibility of Miles in some scenes, the 2023 animation doesn’t disappoint. Should audiences see the movie with Dolby Vision with Dolby Cinema, they will have an even more advanced visual experience. 

Among the most eye-catching examples are the New York City landscape backdrop; everything from a water tower to a subway are clearly enriched with little details that city residents recognize, such as the street signs and even sidewalk scratches. We can’t feel like we’re in the Big Apple if we aren’t immersed into its hectic, crowded atmosphere. Even the at-home party scene with Miles’ family is beautifully presented, as their rooftop bash overlooks most of Brooklyn. It actually looks like a comic book sketch brought to life. 

As for the more colorful scenes within the Multiverse, viewers are whipped with countless, detail-oriented elements when Miles enters the portal. Not only do we get an array of Spot’s vacuum-like Multiverse holes, but we are also taken on a fast ride up with Miles as he tries to run from his unexpected—and newfound—enemies. As Gwen attempts to stop him, we can see the winds and lightening speed of the transportation pushing Miles upward. 

The movie can get pretty chaotic at times, especially in terms of imagery. Some moments may even be a little blinding for younger viewers because of how much there is to absorb in such a short amount of time. But this is exactly what the production was going for. We weren’t going to get the same glossy live-action motion picture that we’re used to seeing. The Spider-Verse films do everything they can to differentiate themselves from the Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks. 

The overwhelming visuals, therefore, are necessary. Viewers are taken inside the comics. They’re not just here to read them; this is a unique cinematic experience in which the production experiments with how far it can visually go. 

Glimpses at OG Faces 

Now that we’ve established the fact that there are countless other Spider-Men (and Spider-Women) out there, Across the Spider-Verse caters to multiple audiences: the newbies, the original Sony fans, MCU followers, and all of the above. 

Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man will forever remain iconic, whereas Andrew Garfield’s emotional portrayal of Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man movies hasn’t been forgotten. After Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: No Way Home turned the world upside down in 2019, Sony and Marvel knew that they had to figure out a way to incorporate the live-action heartthrobs into other projects, but which ones? Viewers will have to watch and see. 

Since Across the Spider-Verse literally plays with the entire Multiverse, it would be an insult—and basically, flat-out stupid—if it didn’t include at least a few familiar faces from the heroic franchise. The film does an excellent job throwing in certain characters at unexpected intervals. 

Impactful Cliffhanger

It wouldn’t be a franchise without a massive, nail-biting cliffhanger! After Miles goes into the Multiverse with Gwen, a lot changes for him. First, he learns that the alternate versions of Spider-Man in other universes may predict what could happen to him. But he’s not Peter Parker, he’s Miles; the Peter Parker in Miles’ world died, as we saw in Into the Spider-Verse. So, the blueprint to Miles’ life may not be as concrete as the Spider-People are telling him it is. However, there’s no way to decipher the truth because viewers are left with the ultimate “to be continued” ending.  

Secondly, Miles’ friendship with Gwen is put to the test. We hear her admit that she should “never” have gone back to visit Miles, but why? What is the reason for her remorse? He learns this at the end, and it rightfully angers him. Gwen has a lot to make up for once he discovers the truth behind their reunion, and now, his feelings for her hang in the balance. Though she finds a way to redeem herself, audiences still don’t know how these two can move past their issues because of the anxiety-inducing cliffhanger. 

The movie, however, is sometimes hard to grasp because of its all-around imagery. There is a solid storyline here, but we’re distracted from it by the visual overload. It would have been refreshing to hear more about how Miles has harbored feelings for Gwen for over a year now. How did he cope with her being gone? What did he do in the interim before she came back to see him? This would have been better to see play out rather than the abundant focus on Miles’ parents constantly grounding him (although this was funny, nevertheless). 

Additionally, the production could have benefitted from delving deeper into Spider-Man 2099’s (a.k.a Miguel’s) character. He teases both the audience and Miles with how he tried to fight against the fate of the Multiverse, but what exactly happened in the end for him? He’s obviously a gloomier character than the other Spider-Men, and even Gwen challenges him by saying, “We’re supposed to be the good guys.” So, how is Miguel Spider-Man at all with his aggressive and apathetic demeanor? Overall, the audience could have been at the edge of their seats if we got a better understanding of what Miguel went through. Character development is key in everything, even with supporting and minor characters. 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a thrilling ride. Despite its brief, awkward, cringey moments and its overwhelming imagery, the animated film doesn’t miss the mark in modernizing the comics. New and veteran viewers can both enjoy this installment. 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse hits theaters on June 2.

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023) | Sony Pictures Entertainment | Official Trailer

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Author

Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.