Aug 13 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Having thought that Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was the single best superhero film released to date (surpassing The Incredibles), I finally caught up with the sequel yesterday and was expecting great things.

The best word to describe the experience of watching Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was overwhelming.”

In the end, slightly unexpectedly, this is almost as much Spider-Gwen’s story as it is Miles Morales’ story, and I’m all for that.1

I’m pretty sure that I’ll be spending the next few days hunting down blogposts breaking down the many, many Easter Eggs, and Explainers about how this film fits into the wider stories of Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy as depicted in the comics. It’s debatable how much that matters in this era where film adaptations of comic storylines rarely feel the need to stick closely to the stories they borrow from, but it’s interesting to know which bits of a story they decided wouldn’t work on-screen.2

The bottom line is that this film looks glorious. When it slows down, it’s generally to give us a well-earned character moment. I’d deliberately not read up on the reaction to the sequel in any detail, so while I was aware that the story wasn’t going to be wrapped up in this film I didn’t have a good sense of where this instalment would end.

It’s fair to say that when we got that shot of Gwen gathering a few familiar figures from the last film (plus new-to-the-film-series characters like Spider-Punk) if I had been given the option to fork out £100 to see the next film right there and then I’d have taken their hand off. The only thing that would have stopped me doing so would have been my awareness that my initial viewing missed plenty of nuances that will only be revealed once I’ve done some homework,3 but that’s a risk I’d have been willing to take.

Basically, this film suffers slightly from it being yet another multiverse story. However, I’m reasonably confident that this trilogy will be looked back on 30 years from now as one of the stories that did well by the multiverse concept.4 All they need to do is stick the landing. This latest film sets up so much fun to come next year. I don’t expect them to blow it by resetting the story to focus on the cast from their 2018 outing, somehow.

Sentimental old guys like me can but hope that Marvel’s impending relaunches of the Fantastic Four and Blade franchises will come out as well as this latest cycle of Spider-Man films looks to have done (fingers crossed.)

Two final points:

  • Having finaly seen this, I really appreciate this Chinese take on the film’s poster

  • J Jonah Jameson should always be played by J.K. Simmons. There should be a law about that.

  1. I’ll confess that while I’ve read [some of the early stories about Spider-Gwen but have not followed closely what Marvel have done with the character since.↩︎

  2. Marvel’s Civil War storyline was very different when it turned up on the big screen and was much the better for it.↩︎

  3. I realise that Sony and Marvel like the idea of releasing films that reward viewers who are willing to do their homework as that’ll boost the number of views/purchases. I’m not sure how well that’ll work when someone wants to watch this for the first time thirty years from now, but I guess that’s the sort of problem Sony’s shareholders are happy to leave to someone else to worry about. When we watch The Wizard of Oz today no doubt there are a few references to stuff that audiences in 1939 would have picked up on that pass casual viewers by almost a century later.↩︎

  4. Star Trek should be so lucky. Is the Kelvinverse dead now? I liked Chris Pine’s James T Kirk, dammit…↩︎