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Review: ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Is a Perfect Successor to ‘Into the Spider-Verse’

5/5 multiverses.

Miles Morales in Spider-verse

When the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out, fans of Spider-Man and the cast of characters who have taken on the mantle saw the brilliance that can come from exploring each character in their comic form. Now, with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, lightning has struck twice. There was never a real fear that Across the Spider-Verse wouldn’t hold up against Into the Spider-Verse, but it is surprising how much Across the Spider-Verse feels like a completely different beast while still honoring what the first film accomplished.

Instead of starting with an origin story, after the first film’s clever way of handling them, the sequel opens by spending time with Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and revealing more about her own life back on her Earth, after she left Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) at the end of the first film. The use of the “Let’s do this”-style origin stories/introductions to new Spider-people still pops up throughout the film, but its less about learning about each new Spider-Man we meet and more about exploring the relationships they’re building with each other and how it feels to be the Spider-Man their world needs.

From the jump, one thing is overly clear: Everyone is feeling even more alone knowing that there are other Spider-people in the world.

Gwen and Miles in Spider-Verse
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

During the first part of the film, Gwen talks a lot about feeling alone. In Into the Spider-Verse, we watched as she told Miles that after her Peter Parker died, she kept everyone away from her. The first person she really let back in was Miles. At the end of Into the Spider-Verse, they were forced to say goodbye to their new friends. So, the two being separated from each other means that Gwen is alone again, and she’s not coping with it well—neither is Miles though, even if he is acting like he’s happier than Gwen.

Meanwhile, Miles is coming into his own as Brooklyn’s Spider-Man, but when he runs into his latest “villain of the week,” he’s lost between stopping him and being there for his father. It’s a typical Spider-Man problem, struggling to balance your life and responsibilities with your duties as Spider-Man. But it leads to conflict with the big bad of the film, the Spot, who is what fans would consider a “smaller” villain in the larger Spider-Man canon.

A lot to unpack

There is a lot going on in this film. It’s complicated to talk about it without doing a dive deep into what’s going on in the plot because from the minute Miles Morales is back with his friends from Into the Spider-Verse, it’s just shocking twist after shocking twist, which keeps you on your toes throughout the movie. In my screening, there were multiple times where the audience around me would find themselves screaming or nearly jumping over something that appeared onscreen.

A typical Spider-Man movie has always been about our main hero struggling with his (or now her) abilities. In the first Spider-Verse movie, we focused on Miles and his struggle with the mantle. In Across the Spider-Verse, we focus more on whether or not these heroes wanted their lives dedicated to their Spider-person duties, and it leaves the audience constantly on edge and excited to see where we were going next.

Whether it’s a mix of animation that marries all the different styles of the Spider-people or what plays out between the characters, Across the Spider-Verse has mastered the art of keeping fans on their toes, much like its predecessor. To say the least, this movie is overwhelming—not in the sense that you’re too in your own mind while watching it, but because there is just so much happening and yet the film never loses you.

That’s mainly because the film again does a great job leveraging characters we know and love to introduce us to new friends along the way.

Personal growth

Gwen and Peter and Jess in Spider-Verse
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

In the first film, as much as it was about Miles and coming into his title as Spider-Man, it was also a movie about Peter B. Parker learning that he could be a father and Gwen Stacy learning how to have friends in her life again. Everyone around Miles grew just as he did, and Across the Spider-Verse continues that character growth. Gwen is more willing to be friends with Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya) because of her friendship with Miles. Even more than that, we see the direct result of Miles’ relationship with Peter in Peter’s relationship with his daughter, Mayday.

As always, my favorite part of this movie was the Gwen, Miles, and Peter dynamic. They don’t get as much time together in this as they did in the first movie, which I do think is on purpose, but it still makes the brief moments we get with all of them special. Peter still looks to Miles as somewhat of a son because he helped him when he needed him most, and Gwen, even though she’s just slightly older than Miles, has a more friend-based relationship with Peter. But the three coming back together means that we also get to spend time with my favorite character in the movie: Mayday.

Mayday Parker is the daughter of Peter and Mary Jane Watson, and Peter Parker loves to bring her on missions with him. Miles needed someone to help him take on the mantle of Spider-Man in Into the Spider-Verse and it resulted in Peter realizing that his fear over having kids with Mary Jane was something he just needed to trust himself on. It was, as he said, a leap of faith. He’s great with Mayday and she’s easily the character fans will be drawn to because she’s just excited to be with Spider-people, along with a clear sign of how these movies are focused on the growth of their characters, including their new additions.

It is honestly a really great way of incorporating a storyline from the first movie in a simple and effective way. We knew that Peter and Mary Jane fought and broke up over kids, because Peter didn’t think he could do it. That’s why I cried when he said “Do I want kids?” to Miles in the first movie when they were all fighting together, and to see him bring Mayday with him, embrace her spider qualities, and try to keep her safe while still being a Spider-kid just really is the growth for Peter B. Parker I wanted to see in this movie and I love it.

The movie needed more of Jake Johnson’s Peter, but at least what we got was him being a surprisingly good Spider-dad.

New Spider-friends

Jessica and Miguel in Spider-Verse
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) is someone we briefly saw in Into the Spider-Verse, but this movie is the first time we really get to know him, and as Peter B. Parker says, man is not funny (which is a quality most other Spider-people have). What works about Miguel as a character is that his lack of humor and his no-nonsense attitude are based in his own pain, which is why most other Spider-people are funny. Instead of coping with humor, he loves to wallow in his own sadness, and it makes him an interesting character to unpack. Also, it’s Oscar Isaac, so anytime Miguel is onscreen is a delight.

Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman, and is just trying to be the best hero she can be. Out of all our heroes, she has her things together more so than anyone else, and that’s honestly my favorite version of Jessica. She isn’t dealing with the typical Spider-person drama because she has worked through it and is seemingly healthier than the rest, and it’s just a fun dynamic to explore with her and Miguel.

Miles in full swing

Miles fighting back in Spider-Verse
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

Much like Into the Spider-Verse, this movie is about Miles coming into his own and growing up, but a different stage of that journey. While we learned what it took for Miles to be the best Spider-Man he can be in the first film, this sequel is about the kind of man Miles is growing into. His mother Rio (Lauren Vélez) and father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry) are still trying to protect him, even though they’re not as hard on him as they were in the first film. But it isn’t a perfect relationship. Miles is still lying to them about Spider-Man, and it weighs on him.

Even with his fights with his parents and meeting up with Gwen and Peter again, everyone is making it clear how much Miles is growing, not just physically—even though he is less of that little kid and more of an older teenager—but because he’s more mature in his thinking. He’s not going to let someone tell him what they think is best for him anymore because he knows himself, and it makes for a great second outing for Miles Morales and our Spider-family.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a movie that really understands what we love about all our Spider-family, and it’s a perfect successor to Into the Spider-Verse. It hits theaters on June 2.

(featured image: Sony Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.