Spider-Verse: Into the origin story and Across the canon

Reviews and a comparison of some of the best Spider-man and superhero films out there.

Spider-Verse: Into the origin story and Across the canon

See here for a related article comparing the Spider-Man trilogies: OG Tobey Maguire vs MCU Tom Holland.

I recently saw Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse in theatres and it was a visual joy to experience. I was keen on rewatching it and had my weekend schedule free itself up, so decided to squeeze in a rewatch of the first Spider-Verse film (my 5th viewing in total) beforehand. This write-up has reviews for both films as well as a comparison.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Premiered: 2018

Watched January 2019
Rewatched January 2019, Dec 25 2020, Dec 24 2021, Jun 04 2023

Fresh, innovative and completely familiar.

The artwork is slick and vivid; comic book panels brought to life. The storyline remains easy to follow despite the wealth of new and unique characters introduced, and the emotion runs strong.

The plot wastes no time in giving us it's spin on the Spider-Man origin story through the well-developed Miles Morales character. The second act gets really whacky but it all fits together somehow.

"What's Up Danger" will always remain one of my favourite motivational cinema scenes, which just jumpstarts the electrical third act full of emotionally-satisfying lines and moments. This film made me so grateful for all my nerdy knowledge, and I credit the crew for such an original entry in the superhero genre.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Premiered: 2023

Watched Jun 01, 2023
Rewatched Jun 04, 2023

A sequel that absolutely knocks it out of the park.

The animation ranges from stunning to vibrant. Every universe has a distinct look. The original was already groundbreaking, yet gets blown out of the water here.

You know who the characters are from the moment they are introduced. Diagonal slashes of rubble in slow-motion like a comic book panel, or sweet underhanded comments between friends and couples. Spider-Gwen (yes, she's Spider-Woman but I love that name), Lieutenant Jefferson and Rio Morales steal the show emotionally.

The action and scale are off-the-charts bonkers. Some amazing fight sequences, and a huge sense of cities and stakes. Daniel Pemberton continues a strong run with the soundtrack, with some particularly notable motifs for characters (see below for the 2099 sound). The music is all cued perfectly.

You can't help but root for Miles and cheer him along in this journey. Props to the writers for having everything perfectly laid out, even when you go back and watch the first one. And what an amazing way to wrap Spider-Man canon in, respecting all existing depictions and paving the way for future ones.


Having seen Across the Spider-Verse, going back to the first film was interesting.

Into the Spider-Verse still holds up, although... the animation in it's sequel makes the first one look almost amateurish. It's insane, especially since Into the Spider-Verse was groundbreaking when released in 2018. The art style captured comic books in motion unlike anything else, and was a refreshing and vibrant way to show the characters and action.

However, Across the Spider-Verse does such a clear and amazing job of one-upping it's predecessor in visual style that you can't help but make comparisons. The sense of scale is where this becomes especially evident. Countless Spider-Man variants in the background, huge city-scapes rendered with chaotic action or peaceful beauty and universes with completely distinct art-styles.

The other difference is that Across the Spider-Verse uses it's longer runtime to let the story breathe. Whilst I appreciated Into the Spider-Verse for its tight plotting, and still do, their pacing makes them feel like different films.

Into the Spider-Verse was the blueprint. A focused 2-hour journey into the Spider-Man origin story, and Miles's growth into being a hero - one who represents his own way of doing things and keeps getting up.

Across the Spider-Verse is a film about what it means to be Spider-Man, and more generally doing what is right. It leans harder into the comic book tropes and pays beautiful homage to all existing depictions of the character. It is also setting up a far grander story and emotional impact (if the 3rd film in the trilogy nails the landing).

Can't wait for Beyond the Spider-Verse to cap this trilogy off, and hopefully put it in the rankings of all-time greatest film trilogies. I don't want to jinx, anticipate or over-hype, but Miles's animated story will likely stand among the likes of Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight by March 2024.

Oh, and both films have absolutely banging soundtracks and albums to accompany them.

See related articles using the buttons below:

Spider-Man trilogies: OG Tobey Maguire vs MCU Tom Holland
To celebrate the release of No Way Home, I thought I would revisit the original film trilogy and Maguire’s performance as the hero.

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πŸŽ₯ As always, you can find more film reviews on my Letterboxd account here πŸ˜„