Across the Spider-Verse Review: Back and Better Than Ever

Outshining Into the Spider-Verse seemed impossible, but Sony’s created another masterpiece.

When ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ launched in 2018, it’s no exaggeration to say that it transformed how people see animated films. From its revolutionary animation style to its tight and well-rounded story, it went on to become the highest-rated film in the entire Spider-Man franchise. Five years later, the Sony Animation Pictures team has done the unthinkable with ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse‘, by surpassing the original in every way.

Related: Insomniac details Spider-Man 2 cover and editions in new blog post.

The Best Animation in the Business

across the spider verse thwip miles
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

While it’s not the only thing that makes ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ great, the animation is one of the trademark staples that sets this series apart from others in the genre. This time, however, it’s even more impressive. Where the first Spider-Verse film took place exclusively in Miles Morales’ Earth-1610, this movie crosses multiple dimensions, each with a unique art style.

Gwen’s home: Earth-62 boasts watercolor-like skies that mimic mood rings, shifting with her attitude, while Spider-Man India’s vibrant home offers a sketched cityscape. My favorite new addition, Spider-Punk, looks like a magazine cutout with harsh black lines and pop-ups covering the screen in his wake, overpowering and overlaying anything that comes across him.

Miles keeps his original comic dotted, smooth-swinging style from ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ with an added flair highlighting his growth. These differences give a sense of identity to the worlds of the Multiverse in a way no other film has captured.

across the spider verse gwen
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

No two worlds look alike, and swapping styles and venues is the norm in this meaty Spider-Man movie. The best part, though? Every Spider-Man retains their style whether they’re in their dimension or not. That means that no matter where the movie takes place, the character keeps their original design, which helps each character stand out. Even returning characters like Gwen exhibit these distinctions, with her silhouette radiating pink, purple, and blue in many scenes outside Earth-62.

Somehow, Sony Pictures Animation pairs all these contrasting styles seamlessly. With the trademark comic book aesthetic, brilliant choreography, and excellent setpieces to further elevated the production, it’s easily the best-looking animated movie I’ve ever seen.

Image via Sony Pictures Animation

Miles and Gwen: Together Again

Image via Sony Pictures Animation

Unlike the first film, Miles isn’t the only protagonist. ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ spends just as much time with Gwen as it does with Miles. The prologue is an incredible and tragic look at her origin. Her journey to become Spider-Woman and her trials are topics I didn’t expect to see covered here, but it’s a welcome change of pace that fleshes her character out in ways I didn’t expect.

The added focus on Gwen allows her to parallel Miles and his story flawlessly, and how these two complement one another, whether together or not, is nothing short of masterful.

Image via Sony Pictures Animation

The film spends plenty of time with the two protagonists together despite moments focusing on their individuality. There’s also an added focus on the budding interest these two share in one another. This is one place ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ shines, as the relationship between these two feels organic and natural. Their blossoming romance doesn’t feel like a footnote or an afterthought; it’s a subtle and impactful undertone to the story.

What works so well about the story of Miles and Gwen is how true to life it feels. These two awkward teens care for one another but are awkward and clumsy with how they show it. Sometimes that leads to Gwen showing off a little when she’s web-slinging or Miles trying a cool trick to impress her and then fumbling seconds later.

Across the spider verse miles and gwen
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

It’s a song and dance illustrated more in their body language and actions than spoken outright. You can tell how this duo feels just by the way they behave around one another. Their attraction to one another is palpable but never crosses into unbelievable territory.

Instead, the relationship between these two builds throughout the two-hour film, and we get incredible moments like their showboating reunion in Miles’s universe accented by the movie’s fantastic soundtrack.

Spider-Verse is willing to take its time to get Miles and Gwen to a point where their relationship feels earned. That’s something few films, especially animated ones, are willing to do.

Expanding the Incredible Cast

Image via Sony Pictures Animation

Though Miles and Gwen take center stage in the sophomore film in this trilogy, we do get an expanded cast of side characters, and they are all incredible in their own right. Spider-Woman is a pensive and powerful veteran that uses her experience to outwit foes rather than brute force. She’s a stern but fair pseudo-mother to most of the younger spideys that keeps them in line and holds them accountable.

across the spider verse 2099 miles
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

Oscar Isaac’s Spider-Man 2099 is an aggressive, assertive, and inventive leader that tackles problems with force and tact. Whether he’s clawing his way up buildings or crushing others with his electric webs, he’s a character that demands attention and respect from friend and foe alike. He’s jaded, ruthless, and effective in ways that no other character is. Miguel O’Hara is basically the Batman of the spider crew, and it works well here.

spider man across the spider verse india
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

One of the best new additions this time is Pavitr Prabhakar, or Spider-Man India. The rookie of the Spider-Verse is goofy, ditzy, and pompous in a way that sets him apart from the other spider people. He toes the line between comic relief and lovable dope. His jokes, actions, and attitude all reflect how new to being Spider-Man he is.

Pavitr’s got more than witty humor to draw you in too. His significant redesign and inventive fighting style make the few moments he’s also a treat to watch in action. This Spider-Man uses his vambraces like a yo-yo to concuss his foes and catapult around the city. He’s another incredible premise for a character that outdoes its source material.

He’s cooler in Spider-Verse than ever, and that’s due mainly to the Indian input this film commissions. I would be shocked if the comics didn’t outright scrap their rendition to emulate the movie version. He’s that good.

ACross the spider-verse spider punk
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

The true star of ‘Across the Spider-Verse’, Hobie Brown’s Spider-Punk, is even better. He’s not only the best side character in the film, but he might also be one of the best characters in the series. Unlike the other young fighters, he’s pessimistic, distrustful, and methodical. Every move he makes has a purpose, and after the second time watching, I can truly appreciate how well-written this punk-rock anarchist is.

Of course, Spider-Punk’s animation is on another level as well. Hobie’s magazine cutout style with bold lines and aggressive movement gives him an unforgettable presence. He’s got one of the most inventive styles in the movie, and after hearing it took the team over two years to create him, I understand why. The level of detail on this one Spider-Man outshines any other animated movie I’ve seen in a decade.

What makes the supporting cast so good in ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ is how their humor, mannerisms, and actions fit into the plot. No joke is cheap or unrelated. Spider-Man India’s quips hint at his inexperience as Spider-Man. Spider-Punk’s distrusting aura isn’t just a bit. Miguel’s brooding has weight behind it that you have to see to understand.

Well-written humor like this makes the movie even better while staying true to the nature of Spider-Man. These characters endure much pain but paint their worlds with humor to survive the aftershock. That’s one of the critical tenants of Spider-Man, and it’s nailed here.

Family Ties, Flawlessly Executed

Across the Spider-Verse, miles walking away from his dad and mom
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

One of my favorite things about Miles Morales’ Spider-Man is his relationship with his parents. Unlike the Peter Parkers of the Multiverse, Miles still has a mom and dad to look after and guide him. Just like any family, though, there is friction.

Miles and his parents often disagree with how he should live his life, leading to several tense moments between them. Whether he’s lying to them to hide his life as Spider-Man or trying to get some space to grow, Miles finds himself struggling to see eye to eye with his parents at several points in the story.

Even with these issues, the family always works to understand one another. There isn’t a moment where you ever doubt the love in the Morales family. These are genuine misunderstandings and disagreements that cause issues that are relatable and grounded. Several moments in the film see Miles having one-on-one time with each parent. Both parents tackle different problems with their son and talk things through.

Image via Sony Pictures Animation

It’s not only Miles that sees a strong family focus in this film, as Gwen has vital moments with her dad that are just as powerful. Even if her issues are different, the way she faces hurdles with her father feels just as fluid.

Few films and shows have the nuance and depth the families in Spider-Verse share, and to see this part of Miles and Gwen get some spotlight is very appreciated.

What it Means to Be Spider-Man

across the spider verse miles miguel
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

At the center of ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ is one question: what does it mean to be Spider-Man? One problem causes the whole group to ask that question. Despite the Spider society all having so many similarities, many disagree on this point. Miles and Miguel lie at the center of this dispute with different answers to the same issue.

across the spider verse miles
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

It’s a conflict that highlights what makes Miles so special as a Spider-Man and how unique he is as a character. The way he sees many of the problems he faces is fundamentally different. The ability to look at issues from a new perspective, the will to persevere, and the gall to fight no matter how slim the odds make this Spider-Man who he is. There isn’t anyone in the Multiverse like Miles, and this film highlights that marvelously.

across the spider verse gwen thwip
Image via Sony Pictures Animation

At the same time, Gwen must face some hard truths and stop running from her fears. The two navigate their sticky situation, and the story builds until its nail-biting conclusion. Spoiler alert: it’s a cliffhanger. What makes the ending so good despite this ending is how earned this suspense feels. It doesn’t feel like the movie was made this way as sequel bait. Instead, it feels there was no better way to tell this story.

across the spider verse miles gwen
Image via Sony Pictures animation

Any less time with Miles, Gwen, and the rest of the cast would have been a disservice to the story the team at Sony Pictures Animation wanted to tell. Every moment in ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ feels like it needs to be here.

I left the theater shocked, but I never felt like the movie was too short or dragged out. This is a masterfully crafted story for Miles, Gwen, and the entire Spider-Verse. One that does the vast array of characters justice while creating an exciting new story that outdoes its source material.

Verdict

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ is an unrivaled masterpiece. Groundbreaking strides in animation, storytelling, and character depth make this the best Spider-Man movie ever made by a wide margin. Everything that made the first film a hit is here and improved upon significantly. Sony Pictures Animation’s second spidey film will have you ready for the sequel as soon as it ends but leave you feeling satisfied when you walk out.

Image via Sony Pictures Animation
Press SPACE To jump Review score 10

Masterpiece

ProsCons
Unrivaled animation that shifts with each universe and spider-personPeter B. Parker has less time to shine this time around
The best story told in a Spider-Man movie yet
Equal focus on Miles and Gwen that parallels the story flawlessly
Miles and Gwen’s authentic evolving relationship shines
Incredible new characters, especially Spider-Punk
Several exciting, original antagonists
Strong Soundtrack that compliments and elevates the experience
An unforgettable ending

For more on Spider-Man, including the upcoming PS5 title, please stick with us at Press SPACE to Jump!

share this article
Tai Hofmann
Tai Hofmann

Writing Lead and Editor for Press SPACE to Jump. My first memory is forcing my parents to play 50-round games of Mario Party on the N64. Now I love games on all platforms and hone in on new releases. Some of my favorite titles include Cuphead, Final Fantasy XIV, God of War, Persona 5, and Super Smash Bros.

Articles: 590