Animation has been treated as a fairly fluid art form that has been left open to interpretation of what it can accomplish. The transformation of what animation has become has continuously been challenged by artists determined to elevate its prominence in mainstream media. Creators approaching animation with an open mind have resulted in groundbreaking strides for the medium as a whole, though the Sony Pictures Animation team made history with its unique and stylish Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse upon its 2018 release. Not only did the studio introduce a new form of animation for the movie, but successfully launched the Spider-Verse franchise that has since earned critical and fandom acclimation alike.
Tirelessly clever filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a creative, innovative surprise that still earned high praise years after its initial debut. The premiere Spider-Verse film set high stakes for not just the superhero and animation genres, but its own sequels, almost daring Sony Pictures Animation to outdo themselves upon each additional title added to their ever-growing animated universe. Fortunately, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
refused to crumble beneath the immersable weight of expectations.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse understands that Spider-Man tropes will forever be present in the hero's storytelling -- but the presentation doesn't need to tire itself out by wearing out the same beats that have been told and retold to the point where they've become boring. Instead, this sequel recycles its strengths to emphasize individual angles and narratives that serve as the beating heart of the film. There's such a desire for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse to become personal, both with its main protagonists and with its core morals, that the familiarity of the sequel is a seamless transition into a greater, more ambitious plot. When taking in the scope of the plot into consideration, Marvel has fumbled with its multiversal concepts. The studio's multiple attempts to solidify the multiverse as a key element in its ongoing sagas have struggled to resonate with audiences. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has subverted the exhaustion of mangled timelines and parallel worlds by taking the time to integrate them into the plot with a purpose. When thinking about exhaustion overall, the second Spider-Verse movie nimbly dodges superhero fatigue overall.
A bold sense of personality and a strong sense of self are primary traits that flatter the Spider-Verse's second cinematic outing, all while being complimented by truly stunning animation. The diversity of animation, as both a departure from the original Spider-Verse's defining visuals and a standout from other studios, is breathtaking. Sony Pictures Animation continues to borrow heavily from the comics that inspire it, weaving source material in with creative liberties to create a genuinely captivating work of art. The dedication to detail taken by Sony Pictures Animation humbles and complements its predecessor. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is not only a triumph for the comic book genre but for animation as a whole. It defies possibilities for the future of the medium and inspires the future of the art form altogether. There's a certain type of excellence that's hard to pinpoint a solid example of. It's indescribable, and cannot be bound to the definition of quality as it stands. It's a transcendence of quality -- one way to describe Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. While it boasts a hulking sprawl of Spider-People throughout an elongated run time, the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is more than its cameos. A carefully chosen voice cast is the finishing touch to already-interesting characters. Captivating character designs may catch the eye, but the commitment to enhancing each web-slinger through outstanding voice performances makes Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse all the more memorable.
At one point in the film, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) declares that he's "gonna do his own thing" when defining how his story is supposed to go. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse takes a cue from its primary Spider-Man when doing its "own thing." The heartfelt intimacy between character relationships is balanced out with a deeply interesting villain, then later, an even more unpredictable twist in the plot that leaves the film dangling on a cliffhanger. A sharp yet brisk screenplay evens out sentimentality with action, remaining engaging through almost every scene. Nearly every moment serves a greater purpose while keeping the plot moving forward as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse rarely slows itself down. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a visual dazzler, heartstring-puller, and one of the best movies of 2023 so far. 9.5/10.