Across the Spider-Verse is easily one of the best Spider-Man movies for being so colorful, witty, and exciting with the comic book character.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023) Review By Mark McPherson

Published on June 7, 2023

Rating 4.5 /5

After the towering achievement in style and storytelling from 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse, there are some high expectations for its sequel, Across the Spider-Verse. With the previous film being creative and compelling with the Spider-Man lore, plenty of pressure is on to see how well the story of Miles Morales and the multiverse can be told going forward. Thankfully, this film succeeds in more ways than one to become superior to Into the Spider-Verse and easily ranks among the top superhero movies ever made, let alone Spider-Man movies.

The film continues the adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), who is finally starting to emerge as the familiar Spider-Man of New York City. He’s falling into all the familiar tropes of balancing his personal, school, and superhero life. He’ll quickly swing into a parent-teacher conference, only to bolt out the door when noticing that the new villain, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), is on the loose. He’s also facing issues with coming out to his parents as a superhero and forming a romance with Gwen “Spider-Woman” Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), despite her still being from another universe.

At the core of this film is a highlight on the canon and why its adherence can and should be broken. The first cracks come when the lesser villain of The Spot discovers that he can become more potent if he hops to other universes and steals their power. It’s enough to make the comical villain of the week transform into a massive threat to all. Concurrently, Miles is let in on the motions of being Spider-Man through the Spider-Verse collective of multiverse-repairing web slingers. They’re led by the determined and cold-hearted Miguel O'Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac). Miguel stresses to Miles that not only must the tragic canon be fulfilled but that anomalies like Miles need to be wiped from the timeline.

Much like the last film, this sequel bursts with more experimental style and humor. The overflowing Spider-Verse has filled Spider-Man iterations that appear in more than just the stellar comic-booky CGI. Various characters will appear in traditional, limited, live-action, cut-out, and LEGO animation. The legacy of Spider-Man is tinkered with that there’s great charm in such Easter eggs as the Spider-Man clone Ben Reilly showing up with classic 90s brooding and Donald Glover, having appeared in a previous Spider-Man film, pops up as an alternate Prowler. With so many references, it would seem like the story would get lost in all these references. Thankfully, the focus on Miles and his fight for relevancy never get lost in the hordes of other Spider-themed heroes that crowd the screen.

Watching how much the characters have progressed since the last film was a lot of fun. Gwen has the complete arc this time for coming to terms with her father and finding the acceptance and love she wants from her father. Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson) repairs his hapless life from before to patch things up with MJ and become a charming father to his baby daughter. These two characters become the perfect example of superheroes who broke the mold and can forge better paths. Rather than remain comfortable in their universes, they make the tough call to risk it all and save Miles from becoming a non-canon Spider-Man.

Across the Spider-Verse is easily one of the best Spider-Man movies for being so colorful, witty, and exciting with the comic book character. The action is still fast-paced and visually stimulating, whereas New York City looks about as dazzling as the shifting gravity of Spider-Verse HQ. The characters have fantastic chemistry, and the natural flow of Spider-Man pathos and comedy is flawless. With how dominant superhero media has been, it’s surprising we don’t get more animated movies, given the expanse of the medium and the allure of kids. Hopefully, the fantastic assembly of Across the Spider-Verse will inspire more since this is easily the best superhero film of 2023 by a mile.

Written By

Mark McPherson

Written By

Mark McPherson

Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.

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