Four years after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales is back and saving the multiverse with all the other incarnations of the superhero in the hotly anticipated sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The first trailer just dropped, and it looks like another trippy, universe-hopping fun ride—hopefully a worthy successor to one of the best films of 2018.
(Spoilers for 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse below.)
Into the Spider-Verse was the first computer-animated feature film to feature everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero—in this case, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a teenage graffiti artist of Black and Puerto Rican descent. Miles is bitten by the canonical radioactive spider while painting in an abandoned subway station and develops spider-like superpowers. He stumbles onto a plot by Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) to open portals to parallel universes where Fisk’s wife and son are still alive. In Miles’ universe, Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Chris Pine), is killed by Fisk, and Miles takes up the Spider-Man mantle.
Miles ultimately saves the day with the help of Spider-Man incarnations from other universes, most notably Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld). Other versions of Peter Parker were played by Jake Johnson, who reluctantly mentors Miles; Peni Parker/SP/dr (Kimiko Glenn) from an anime-inspired parallel universe; Nicholas Cage channeling his best 1930s noir Humphrey Bogart impression; and my personal favorite, Peter Porker, aka Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). In the post-credits, we met Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), who plays a major role in Across the Spider-Verse (apparently, the crew nicknamed the character “Property Damage Spider-Man”).
Into the Spider-Verse racked up $375.5 million at the global box office against a $90 million production budget and won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature—the first non-Pixar film to do so since 2011. Even before the film premiered, the word-of-mouth was so positive that Sony started the sequel’s development. Ars’ Sam Machkovech declared Into the Spider-verse to be “easily the best comic-nerd film in years to warmly embrace the kinds of viewers who know their comics canon front and back, all without intimidating the inevitable kid and newbie viewers attracted to this incredibly family-friendly adventure.”
Moore, Steinfeld, and Isaac all reprise their roles, along with Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker, Miles’ mentor from the 2018 film; Luna Lauren Velez as Rio Morales, Miles’ mother; and Brian Tyree Henry as Miles’ police officer father, Jefferson Davis. New characters include Daniel Kaluuya as Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk (he’s a guitarist in a British punk rock band); Issa Rae as Jessica Drew, a pregnant Spider-Woman from another universe; and Shea Whigham as Gwen’s father, police captain George Stacy. Per the official premise:
Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar winning Spider-Verse saga, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must re-define what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most.
A highlight of the new trailer is the six distinct animation styles used for the universe of each incarnation of Spider-Man—very much a deliberate creative choice. For instance, Gwen’s home (Earth-65) has the look and feel of impressionistic watercolors, where the colors shift in response to Gwen’s emotions. (It’s been described as a “three-dimensional mood ring.”) We also glimpse Earth-50101 (aka “Mumbattan,” meshing together Manhattan and Mumbai).
The primary villain this time around is the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), whose body is covered in inter-dimensional portals designed to look like “living ink that had spilled or splattered on a comic artist’s drawing.” Jorma Taccone, who voiced the Green Goblin in the 2018 film, returns in the sequel as the Vulture, sporting a Renaissance-era look inspired by the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
The trailer opens with a heart-to-heart between Miles and his mother, as she awkwardly tries (and fails) to correctly use the teen slang of the day. “For years I’ve been taking care of this little boy, making sure he’s loved, that he feels like he belongs wherever he wants to be,” Rio says. But she worries that “they”—presumably the other web-slinger incarnations— won’t look out for Miles the way his family will. She makes him promise that he won’t forget where he came from.
It’s Gwen who lures Miles into this new adventure, involving a bunch of Spider-Man incarnations battling it out in some kind of inter-dimensional space. Apparently, not all of them are the “good guys.” There’s not much detail about the plot, but the animated Stan Lee cameo alone makes this a worthwhile trailer that whets our appetite for the film.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse hits theaters on June 2, 2023. We can’t wait. Another sequel is already in the works, along with a spinoff featuring Steinfeld and Rae’s incarnations of Spider-Woman, as well as the character of Cindy Moon/Silk.
Listing image by YouTube/Sony Pictures