Run and don’t walk – because Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has just dropped. After a torturous five-year wait, Sony has finally released the much-anticipated sequel to the 2018 box office hit.
Now that I’ve caught one of the earliest screenings in Singapore, here’s my hot take on Sony’s latest addition to the Spider-Man franchise.
WARNING: MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
Across the Spider-Verse picks up where its predecessor left off, with Miles Morales adjusting to his new role as Spider-Man in Earth-1610.
He reunites with Gwen Stacy and discovers a society of Spider-People, created for the purpose of defending the multiverse.
Faced with a new threat, Miles finds himself at odds with the rest of the Spiders and fights to forge his own path.
Let’s get the obvious over with: the animators brought their absolute A game to the sequel. This movie breathes life.
And it’s not just the characters who embody Sony’s artistry; the backgrounds are almost a character on their own, alternating between a myriad of art styles from brushstrokes to stop motion.
The plot’s inclusion of multiversal travel must have been such a treat (or overtime hell) for the animators.
With every interdimensional travel sequence, it’s like being reintroduced to the Spider-Verse world over and over again: every universe’s aesthetic distinguishes itself with its respective Spider-Man’s palette, resulting in a kaleidoscopic world of sharp colours that encapsulates each Spider-Man’s character.
I kid you not when I say every frame could be a wallpaper, it’s a solid ten for me.
Miles and his family are consistently at the forefront of this movie. The Morales family gets more and more entangled with Miles’ job as Spider-Man, as he fights to keep the distance between his identities as a son and a web-slinging vigilante.
This results in an increasingly strained family dynamic, with the movie doing more to flesh out Miles’ relationship with his mother. The movie takes pains to show his agony when he’s forced to choose between lying and telling the truth about his identity to his parents.
I found myself being hit the hardest and shedding tears whenever Miles and his mother were alone, in scenes with surprising emotional depth.
Gwen gets more air time too. It really was a breath of fresh air to me, considering her smaller role in the first movie. The movie immediately starts off with Gwen’s narrative voice, cementing her as a pivotal character in the story.
Gwen’s character development explores the complicated relationship she has with her father following the death of Peter Parker, as her father blames Spider-Gwen for Parker’s passing.
It’s a stark contrast to the first film where she’s portrayed as a more self-assured hero, and we get a peek behind the curtain when we see what she goes through after losing Peter Parker in her world.
Overall, her character definitely undergoes some pretty gut-wrenching scenes that rivals Miles’ character arc. Character development is always a win in my book!
I saw it coming from the moment the trailer dropped and I hate to admit it but… Spider-Verse did in fact falter in the too-many-characters department.
The movie felt a tad overstuffed with villains (including Oscar Isaac’s tortured Spider-Man 2099).
It resulted in a movie juggling between characters and doing its best to create an impact every time a new Spider-Man is introduced.
Miguel O’Hara is intimidating for sure, but he could have worked with a lot more than a cutaway to his tragic backstory followed by an intense chase sequence (which, nevertheless, is boatloads of fun).
The Spot suffers from the limited screen time given to him as well, which made it harder to take him seriously as a villain.
But, given that the movie functions as a lead up to the final instalment in the trilogy, the lack of development is pretty inevitable.
Sacrifice haunts every version of Spider-Man. Even in lighthearted scenes, the tension on the line that Miles walks between living a life he chooses and the life that was chosen for him is evident.
He has to constantly negotiate his identities which means he finds himself in a community that will never truly understand him, or at least, the whole of him.
His role as Spider-Man affects every aspect of his life, from his academic pursuits, his love for his parents and his feelings towards Gwen.
His resistance against being truthful to his parents results in him throwing himself into his role as Spider-Man, hurting his parents as he withdraws from them.
His life as Spider-Man would also require a “Canon Event” which is a pivotal moment that marks their transition and greater acceptance of their role as a hero. In his case, it is his father’s death.
A big conflict in the movie is Miles’ refusal to accept the impending death of his father, and his growing understanding of what it costs to be Spider-Man.
Sacrifice is a prominent theme in Christ’s journey as well.
He lived a life infinitely beyond the burdens of an average person and was required to make sacrifices daily. Choosing to live and walk in God’s destiny for Him was the sacrifice Jesus made each day.
There’s a little parallel there, to each time Miles chooses to don the mask of Spider-Man. The mantle is inhumanly heavy, yet they both find the cause worth fighting for and decide to take up the mantle each time.
During the movie, I kept wondering what it would be like to be in Miles’ position. To unwittingly find out about the inevitable but necessary death of a loved one but be forced to accept it. I don’t blame Miles for reacting the way he did, I’m sure I would have handled it much worse.
In some sense, it reminded me of God the Father’s will for Jesus to die on the cross. Jesus, then, knew from day one that He would be hung on the cross for our sins, and yet out of His love for us He willingly climbed Calvary.
Choosing to live and walk in God’s destiny for Him was the sacrifice Jesus made each day.
If I were shown the trials that lay ahead of me, would I choose to walk through them or abandon them – and possibly the future God has planned for me as well?
It’s a tough choice to make. It may not be as earth-shattering as losing a loved one, but I’m sure it would hurt.
But one thing that gives me comfort is this: God is a God who will be with us in the fire, and He knows how important it is for each of us to be refined.
I suppose it’s a little like Peter B. Parker says, “If it weren’t for Uncle Ben, most of us wouldn’t be here.”
- Have you watched Across the Spider-Verse yet? How did you find it?
- What does sacrifice mean to you?
- What does the Bible say about sacrifice and selflessness?
- What might God be saying to you today?