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A Theatrical Film Release

It doesn’t get any bigger than this! In the third (and possibly last) installment of James Gunn’s Marvel Studios space epic Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 the intergalactic mercenaries must rally all their forces to save one of their own with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance!

Before the MCU’s Spider-Man (Tom Holland) found himself with no way home, facing off against a sinister select of super villains from alternate earths, and Doctor Strange tried to make sense of the madness of the multiverse, Miles Morales, a teenager from Brooklyn, had already started web-slinging his way across the dimensions. Morales was leaps and bounds ahead of the game of his big-screen contemporaries when he was first bitten by a radioactive spider, in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

The fully animated feature-length film introduced cinematic audiences to the infinite possibilities of multiple dimensions and alternate universes, as Miles is catapulted into the middle of an adventure that has him joining forces with Spider-Heroes from other realities including an adult Peter Parker, the Spider-Woman/Gwen Stacy and more. Based on the Marvel Comics “Ultimate” imprint that debuted in 2000 and was targeted to give new fans an easy entry point into old favorites, Miles Morales, created by Brian Michael Bendis instantly became a hit with comic book readers.

*Spoiler Alert/Editor’s Note: Although an effort was made to post this review after the film’s theatrical release, and particularly exciting plot points and revelations are mindfully being sidelined to not disrupt or interfere with the first-time viewer’s experience, this article may not entirely avoid certain key elements in its editorial observation of the film. You’ve been warned!

With the success of the first film starring Morales’ Spider-Man as voiced by Shameik Moore, it was inevitable that a sequel would follow, and the filmmakers spared no expense with the story, action, and adventure in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The sequel is every bit as stunning an environment to dive into, and if it’s at all possible filmmakers Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson have enhanced the experience. Keeping with the established “comic book to big screen” interpretation, the palette is far richer this time, and deeper.

We’re dealing with the “multiverse” here so the animators have expertly provided an element to separate each world that our heroes visit so that there is clearly established we’re no longer in Kansas, although it all is expertly cohesive. The characters are also full-on far more flesh and blood (if that’s at all possible) than in the previous film. Make no mistake, this is an animated feature, but the characters might as well be motion captured; the emotional notes driven to the heart of it all by the voice actors makes everyone beat with a heart and soul that is fascinating and marvelous.

When we’re reunited with the Spider-Verse, the storyline opens by re-introducing the audience to Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) the Spider-Woman of an alternate earth who has been battling a colorful rogues gallery of her own, while pining to be reunited with her friend, Miles Morales. On her earth, Gwen is dealing with issues that are largely transferrable and compatible with the legacy of Spider-Man and Peter Parker whom fans have known for more than 60 years across all media of the character’s extrapolation.

This becomes more relevant as the movie plays out, as there are “canon” elements (significant inflection points) of every Spider-Heroes’ journey that cannot be trifled with. When a supervillain from an alternate dimension appears in Gwen’s world, she finds herself confronted with revealing the truth about her dual identity to her father, police Captain George Stacy (voiced by Shea Whigham). It doesn’t go well, and Gwen decides to make a hard choice and follow the two other Spider-Heroes who intervened to save the day…a very pregnant, motorcycle-mounted Jessica Drew (voiced by Issa Rae) and the large and intimidating Miguel O’Hara (voiced by Oscar Isaac) modeled after the Spider-Man of the year 2099.

Into the Spider-Verse!

The film’s focus returns to our title character: Miles Morales after the prologue establishes that the Spider-Heroes run a secret society dedicated to protecting the multiverse from any aberrant behavior or trespasses. When Miles, as Spider-Man, comes face-to-(something-of-a)-face with the villain The Spot (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), and that’s where our hero’s trouble take-off like a rocket! The Spot is able to traverse dimensions and navigate the multiverse, but what he wants most of all is to be free of this curse, so he becomes intent on acquiring dark matter energy from multiple dimensions in an effort to make himself normal again. Still, in so doing, The Spot causes irrevocable damage to those dimensions.

This draws the attention of Spider-Woman/Gwen Stacy and her new band of web-slingers, who are determined to stop The Spot from carrying out his plan, and especially keep Miles Morales from affecting the timelines. Miguel O’Hara isn’t keen on the novice Spider-Man, in fact, he perceives Miles as a threat to the Spider-Verse and is determined to keep him in check, but when Miles begins to feel he may be tangled up in a web of conspiracies he decides to take matters into his own hands and determine the direction of his own fate!

No one puts this Spider-Man into a corner, but the intricacies of the Spider-Verse may be more than Miles is prepared to navigate and he might have to depend on some old friends to help him make sense of it all. Across the Spider-Verse next-levels the entire multiverse theories and even works in the established comic book canon relevancies that have also played a role in the MCU. This installment of the trilogy establishes the connectivity and also introduces the uniqueness of the Spider-Verse into the mythology.

Ever since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s creation made his comic book debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962), Spider-Man has been at the center of the Marvel Comics renaissance that reinvigorated the publishing of superhero comics, especially putting Marvel Comics back on the map. It’s comparable to the significance of Superman to DC and is centrifugally important to the “health” of the DC Comics Multiverse. The Man of Steel is after all the template from which all heroes have evolved, and in the Marvel universe Spider-Man also carries the weight of being the noblest hero in that pantheon.

Miles is the contemporary version of that evolution, a hero cast in today’s colors to best represent the growing diversity in society. Faced with making the tough decisions, Miles will always follow his heart and his mission is not only to protect the innocent but above all those he loves most — his friends and families. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ignites that heroic instinct in all of us, and eloquently puts us in the POV of Miles Morales as he traverses the challenges of living up to the legacy of a Spider-Man. Between you and I — he does!

Get your #FansEyeView of the trailer to SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE here:

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE | starring Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Issa Rae, and Oscar Isaacs, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson is in theaters now!


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