Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the sequel to the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: A new universe, is set to hit theaters on June 2. The first installment of the animated adaptation, starring the character of Miles Morales, was a critical and academic success, earning the franchise its first Oscar for Best Animated Feature. However, the film’s box office performance was significantly less compared to its live-action counterparts, earning only $384 million out of a $90 million budget.
This begs the question: why aren’t animated films generating massive hits purely for adult audiences? Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pinocchio, an animated adaptation of the Italian tale, argues that animation is not just a children’s genre but a medium for all kinds of movies. He even defended the merits of animated cinema in his Golden Globe acceptance speech, stating that “Animation is cinema.”
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse shows that the possibilities of Spider-Man on the big screen may be greater in animated form than in live action. The film plays with animation styles, multiple versions of Spider-Man, and explores the multiverse, creating a wildly ambitious adventure through different realities. In comparison, the recent live-action film Spider-Man: No Way Home, which united the characters of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland, pales in comparison to the versions of Spider-Man seen in this animated sequel.
The use of animation allows for limitless cameos, references, and scenarios, making it possible to integrate them organically into the narrative. It also enables the creation of action scenes that are extreme and experimental, something not easily achievable with live-action productions.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse looks to be the best Spider-Man movie ever made, according to early reviews. The film boasts intense character development, an expanded multiverse, and action scenes that go beyond anything previously seen. Hopefully, the success of this film and the critical and academic acclaim of its predecessor changes the public’s perception of animation as a medium for children’s films only. As del Toro said, “Animation is not a genre for children, it is a medium.”