It’s difficult to express just how impactful 2018’s Into The Spider-verse has been on Hollywood. Critically adored and a box office hit, it was a soft launch for the ‘multiverse’ concept in superhero movies.
It played with possibilities safe in the knowledge that it didn’t need to be a part of any larger network of films, yet had a pronounced influence on the current direction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the style of many animated films that came after.
The sequel, Across The Spider-verse, arrives with a lot more expectation. Shameik Moore returns as the voice of Miles Morales, now happily situated as his universe’s Spider-man. He reunites with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who asks him to help her defeat a villain called The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), who threatens the safety of every reality. They meet with The Spider-Society, a team of Spider-people tasked with protecting the Multiverse, and its leader, Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac). However, when Miles and Gwen can’t agree on the best plan, things become more complicated.
These types of films are a critic’s nightmare, with vast swathes of plot that can’t be mentioned for fear of spoilers. It is, however, no spoiler to say the film more than lives up to the hype. It takes the ambitious style of its forebear and runs with it, creating a vivid story anchored by the same human grounding that made the first movie so effective.
Minor niggles come in the form of the breakneck pace, which can be exhausting, and the unfinished feeling at the end (this being part one of a story that will be finished next year).
It’s great to see Steinfeld’s Stacy get a larger role, while Moore’s vocal performance continues to give Miles the everyman quality that made him a fan favourite. Isaac is a welcome addition, balancing the seriousness of the role with the occasional in-joke that fans go wild for. Daniel Kaluuya is great value as Spider-Punk, a British rock version of the character, while Schwartzman is a smart choice as the villain.
Across The Spider-verse is, quite simply, one of the most entertaining comic book movies of the last few years.