A crowd heading into an Atlanta theater to see Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse. Photo by Noah Washington/The Atlanta Voice Credit: Noah Washington / The Atlanta Voice

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse surges with visual inventiveness and vibrance, solidifying its status as a more-than-worthy follow-up to the 2018 cultural phenomenon, “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.” 

This highly anticipated sequel surpasses its predecessor in every way, delivering an emotional rollercoaster ride filled with thrilling action and impactful character development. The film opens with the captivating return of Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld), who takes on a deuteragonist role, providing deeper insight into her backstory. This opening sequence introduces new characters Miguel O’Hara (voiced by Oscar Isaac) and Jessica Drew (voiced by Issa Rae), as they engage in an intense action scene against an alternate reality version of the notorious Spider-Man villain, The Vulture. 

The story swiftly transitions to Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a more seasoned Spider-Man who is grappling with the weight of his responsibilities. Balancing school, his superhero alter ego, and maintaining a social life proves challenging, particularly as an Afro-Latino facing additional hurdles in the world. Miles’ struggles become even more pronounced when he is thrust into the multiverse, pitted against his “enemy of the week,” The Spot (voiced delightfully by Jason Schwartzman). 

Across The Spider-Verse impressively explores Miles’ growth as a hero, elevating his character to new heights. 

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

These are the iconic words that resonate across Spider-Man’s history. Shameik Moore’s performance captures the subtlety of a teenager grappling with self-doubt and the pressures of living up to his potential and the responsibility that being Spider-Man brings. The film masterfully delves into Miles’ journey of self-discovery, showcasing his resilient spirit and his ability to overcome obstacles. 

The supporting voice cast rises to the occasion, complementing the film’s exceptional animation. Jake Johnson returns as Peter B. Parker, providing much-needed guidance to Miles, while also navigating his own journey as a new father. Daniel Kaluuya stands out as the self-assured Spider-Punk, whose inconsistent animation emphasizes the radical nature of the character infusing the character with a kickass anti-authoritarian charm. One of the film’s triumphs lies in its animation, which pushes the boundaries of creativity and visual storytelling. Building upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, Across the Spider-Verse takes full advantage of its technical prowess, offering audiences an immersive and awe-inspiring visual experience. 

Every frame is a work of art, with intricate details and stylistic flourishes that enhance the storytelling. However, the film’s relentless pace and focus on action occasionally overshadow the intricacies of its story. While the multiverse provides an exciting backdrop for Miles’ growth, the plot can become convoluted and challenging to follow. Despite these shortcomings, the heart of the story shines through in the character-driven moments. The exploration of complex emotions and relationships, particularly between Miles and Gwen, showcases the film’s ability to strike an emotional chord. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is a worthy successor to its predecessor, delivering an exhilarating and emotionally resonant cinematic experience. Its captivating animation, engaging performances, and relentless energy make it a must-watch for fans and newcomers alike. As Miles Morales continues to swing through the multiverse, audiences can anticipate a thrilling conclusion to this evolving saga to be concluded with next year’s “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse”.