How the new sequel ups the ante

"Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse"  (Everett collection)

Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse (Photo: Sony/courtesy Everett Collection)

Even Shameik Moore couldn’t believe how Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was, and he was a key cog in making 2018’s animated hit.

Moore, who plays Miles Morales – the Brooklyn teenager who becomes the new Spider-Man after Peter Parker dies in his Earth-1610 dimension – saw him for the first time with co-star Jake Johnson . “He was like, ‘Man, this is going to be really good for you. You’re going to start doing live-action movies, because I want to do action movies. Moore (Dope, Wu-Tang: an American saga) wanted to be Miles Morales live-action (he still does, more on that below). “But then, as my nephew saw it, as people started to see it, I [started] to see the real impact. I started to digest what we just did.

The real impact was this: Into the Spider-Verse was a critical and box office success. Some critics called it the best Spider-Man movie. Never, better than anything with a Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland, with particular praise for its stylistically groundbreaking animation that brought the spirit and essence of the comics to life like no Marvel or DC film before it. The film reached a worldwide gross of $384 million (on a budget of $90 million) and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

“I think I laughed a little to myself after seeing it for the first time,” admits Hailee Steinfeld (Perfect, Hawkeye), who voices Gwen Stacy, a young Spider-Woman from the alternate dimension Earth-65, who, along with Johnson’s aging and overweight Peter Parker, helps Miles defeat the evil Kingpin (Liev Schreiber).

Issa Rae and Daniel Kaluuya, who join the festivities for the rest of this weekend Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verselooked sideways… with a slight delay.

“I put it off and grew up reading the comics,” Rae says (Insecure), who plays heavily pregnant Spider-Woman Jessica Drew, a member of the elite multiverse Spider-Society that Miles and Gwen team up with in the new film. “Then people started saying it was the greatest thing ever and I was like, ‘You’re all promoting this. And so I didn’t see him until probably a year later. So I was like, ‘Why didn’t I watch this sooner? I missed it.’ Everything was so phenomenal.

“I had a similar reaction,” says Kaluuya (Come Out, Judas and the Black Messiah), who plays the anarchist guitarist Spider-Punk. “And then when I finally watched it, my mind was blown. I mean, there are a lot of great movies these days, but this one was one of my favorites. I watch it every Christmas .

As with any sequel, the stakes are higher in Through the Spider-Verse. (While Through the Spider-Verse is the second film in the series, it is technically the first of a two-part film, with the sequel set in 2024 Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse already in preparation by the same creative team: Lego movie masters Phil Lord and Chris Miller return as producers as well as co-writers with Dave Callaham (Shang Chi), and the trio of Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson directing.)

Miles has a new nemesis (the vendetta-bringing Spot, voiced by Jason Schwartzman), and pursues his crush Gwen into an alternate dimension where he literally crosses paths with hundreds of other Spider-People (there are dozens spotted in the web -ad only). “There’s a huge tableau” of Spider-People that the filmmakers looked at, Lord confirms. “And there are a lot of business people who are part of the process. And in this case, I guess we just said, “Use them all.”

"Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse"  (Sony Pictures/YouTube)

Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse (Picture: Sony Pictures/YouTube)

In this dimension (one of five featured in the film), Miles discovers a threat that could destroy all universes at once.

“In the first movie, we were introduced to Miles, and we met Gwen, and we already knew Peter,” Moore explains. “But in this movie it’s about the Spider-People, and I think that’s where the stakes [elevate], because everyone has a different path or mentality or way of approaching the salvation of people. The film’s central conflict ultimately takes place between Spider-People, and not your typical hero vs. villain arc.

Through the Spider-Verse is sure to excite fans with its ties to the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, which remains a creative partnership between Disney and Sony. As revealed in the trailer, Through recognizes the multiverse disruptions caused by Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange and Holland’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Coming Home (2021) and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022). “Never get me started on Doctor Strange and the Little Nerd Back on Earth-199999,” laments Spider-Society leader Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac). There may be a live cameo or two from Live Worlds that we won’t spoil here.

Not that those references necessarily have bigger ramifications in Disney’s Kevin Feige-led MCU. “We haven’t had any conversations with Marvel, that’s for sure,” laughs Powers (whose Pixar film Soul won the animated Oscar two years later Into the Spider-Verse). “The conversations were just within our creative team. And it starts from that place of having fun. I think the fans are going to interpret it in a number of ways. And I don’t feel good to say that there’s right or wrong way to really interpret it. But it’s a Lord-Miller movie. The whole idea of ​​this creative process is to have fun and be subversive and look at the idea of ​​the comics and comic book canon and comic book heroes, heroines and villains and where they are and all the rules there.

Laughs Lord: “We have just put [the MCU references] in the script and the film and let someone else deal with it. Miller says more sincerely, “Our theory is that anything is possible in the multiverse.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MAY 22: (L-R) Chris Miller, Phil Lord, Brian Tyree Henry, Kemp Powers, Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Justin K. Thompson, Jake Johnson, Joaquim Dos Santos, Lauren Vélez and Amy Pascal attends the Sony Pictures Animation photocall

(Lr) Chris Miller, Phil Lord, Brian Tyree Henry, Kemp Powers, Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Justin K. Thompson, Jake Johnson, Joaquim Dos Santos, Lauren Vélez and Amy Pascal attend the photocall for Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse on May 22, 2023 in Beverly Hills. (Photo: Kayla Oaddams/WireImage)

Also high for part 2: the stunning visual style of the film. More than 1,000 animators worked on the sequel, a record for an animated feature film. “It took something like 750 person-years to do the painting,” says Lord.

“It’s much more advanced and sophisticated than the first movie,” Miller says. “We had to break the pipeline to make the first movie. But this one we broke five more times because each world we wanted to make it feel like it was in its own style of animation, its own aesthetic, like you’re walking through a different paint d a different artist.

“I think this movie requires repeat viewing specifically because there’s so much in every frame,” Powers says. “Even for us, we’ve watched this movie thousands of times in development, but watching it over and over again, even we see different things that we haven’t seen each time.”

Like with Into the Spider-Versecritics fall in love with Through the Spider-Verseagain profusely praising the film’s jaw-dropping animation.

Moore will surely enjoy his impact again. Even though he still wants to be Marvel’s live-action Miles Morales.

“Absolutely,” Moore says. “I think it will depend on what kind of film they want to make. Honestly at the end of the day I’m gonna keep doing other movies and projects and just showing off my range and hoping Spidey fans will talk when it’s time when they announce they’re going for action in direct. You know, it will be time to talk.

Steinfeld supports him: “Launch the petition,” she says. “I could definitely see Shameik doing it, 100 per cent.”

Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse opens Friday, June 2.

Watch the trailer:

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