In the summer of 2023, the medium of animation changed forever because Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse was released.
This film succeeds Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse which broke the mould and changed the animation industry forever. The movie popularized blending 2D assets into a 3D animated movie and used the medium of animation as a tool for stunning storytelling.
In Into the Spider-Verse the protagonist, Miles Morales was animated at a lower frame rate to show how he was awkward and inexperienced compared to past adaptions of Peter Parker. As Morales grew as a hero, his animated frame rate increased, and his movements became smoother to show growth.
Into the Spider-Verse took inspiration from comic books to shape its visuals. Half-tone dots were used to highlight the characters and settings and to mimic the classic comic book look.
Kirby dots filled the negative spaces in this film as an homage to the comic-book art technique. This made Into the Spider-Verse a visually stunning movie—it was a love letter to the comic books.
Morales’ cultural origins as an Afro-Puerto Rican teenager living in Brooklyn was central in the movie’s design. Integrating the character’s class status and background was done with graffiti art splatter, blending comic book elements.
With techniques like this elevating the story of Into the Spider-verse, expectations were high for the sequel Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse. Into the Spider-verse was a technicolour masterpiece that challenged the limitations of film.
To depict the different universes in the film, each character in Across the Spider-verse had a unique art design that reflected their archetype and background.
As the co-lead for this film, Gwen Stacy’s life is explored more. To reflect her emotions, Stacy’s universe displays as an expressionist painting. This fits because a core theme of this film is centring the relationship between Stacy and Morales.
The backgrounds are bright vivid and rich, but unlike a painting, Stacy’s universe is never static. Scenes in her universe are tense and full of deep emotion and conflict. To translate Stacy’s struggle, the backdrop moves and shifts with a variety of different colours making the landscape match her emotions.
Characters like Hobie Brown, known as Spider-Punk, demonstrate the animation crew’s dedication to keeping characters visually distinct.
Staying true to the character’s superhero alter-ego, Brown is animated to pay homage to punk culture. His design is inspired by political zines crafted and published during the height of punk in the ’70s and ’80s. When Brown stands next to the other characters it truly feels like he was cut out of a magazine and glued to the screen.
Across the Spider-Verse is a tour-de-force, a true demonstration of the power of animation as a medium for storytelling. On this front, Across the Spider-verse is even better than its predecessor.
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