There have been recent Marvel movies that I’ve thought about viewing (Guardians 3, e.g.) and I still may. When Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse came out, though, I HAD to see it. The fact that that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a pretty good gauge of popular culture on his Substack, loved it only added to my anticipation.
Spider-Man is my favorite character in the Marvel universe. During COVID, I saw all of the iterations of all of the Spidey films I had missed, which made No Way Home so delicious.
Still, my favorite webslinger film was the animated Into the Spider-Verse featuring Miles Morales. Across is a follow-up to that.
Isn’t it? The lengthy beginning of the film, before the credits, made me wonder for a time. Oh, yeah, there’s our young hero saving his neighborhood and frustrating his parents with… whatever secret he’s obviously keeping.
Gwen Stacy, a Spidey from a different sphere, shows up. This eventually prompts the Brooklyn-based teen to cross the Multiverse to join forces with other Spider-People to take on a calamitous villain Miles thinks he may be responsible for.
Without giving anything away, the film leans into the overarching mythos of the webslingers.
I was fascinated by the New Yorker article The Post-Racial Vision of “Across the Spider-Verse.” The subhead: “The movie treats its fantastical multiethnic team of superheroes and their forays into cultural determinism with Obama-like breeziness and tact.”
The key paragraph: “The appeal [of Miles’ character] is so universal—or, some might say, neutral—that even right-wing pundits who have dedicated the past few years to getting mad at every superhero or children’s film with a minority lead seem to have mostly given Miles Morales a pass. In what must have come as a surprise to its readers, ‘Worth It or Woke?,’ a Web site that disapprovingly assesses the wokeness of Hollywood releases, recently gave ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ a positive eighty-one-per-cent rating.
“Though it determined that the film took a ‘beloved character’ and ‘race-swapped in the name of Leftist virtue signaling,’ it briefly included the movie in its list of films that were ‘worth it.’ (The recommendation was ultimately pulled when the author of the review noticed that one of the characters had a ‘Protect Trans Kids’ sign in her bedroom.)” [Of COURSE it was.]
So Across the Spider-Verse has managed to walk the fine line of creating “representation” without ticking off the people who find the concept an anathema. Having Spideys from India and Japan, it appears, is OK by almost everyone.
The one structural difficulty is the same issue as Avengers: Infinity War; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1; and virtually every movie’s second act. I want to see the next film NOW.
I saw the film at the Regal Theatre at Colonie Center near Albany. It’s not my favorite venue, but, at the time, the Spectrum was closed on Wednesdays, fortunately no longer the case.
So many ads and infotainment! The noon movie started at 12:25.