WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” the sequel to 2018’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” just got bumped from its original release date of this fall to next summer (June 2, 2023). But the hype train stops for no (spider) man, and at CinemaCon tonight, Sony revealed a work-in-progress preview of the upcoming film.
Producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller introduced the first 15 minutes, much of which was presented in storyboard and in-progress animation footage. The film starts in Gwen Stacy’s universe, Earth-65, where Gwen is having an awkward conversation with her police officer father, who is hunting down Spider-Woman, unaware that his target is his own daughter.
But when the villainous Vulture breaks out and attacks New York, Gwen swings into action, knowing that the police will be waiting for her. After subduing her father, Gwen takes on the Vulture, who is presented in a sepia palette and comes from another universe.
But before Vulture can deal a finishing blow to Gwen, she is rescued by Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099, who was teased in the post-credit scene for the first “Spider-Verse” movie. While they fight Vulture together, he reveals that the first film’s climactic battle with Kingpin ripped open tears in the multiverse, allowing all sorts of villains to wreak havoc.
Fortunately, the tears also allowed for help from other Spiders, including a pregnant Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman of Earth-404, who helps the other two webslingers bring down the Vulture.
But that’s not the end of Gwen’s problems, as her father corners her and holds her at gunpoint, accusing her of killing her universe’s Peter Parker. With no other choice, Gwen is forced to unmask and pleads for him to listen to her in a darkly colored scene. Heartbroken, Gwen’s father moves forward with the arrest, but the other two Spiders come in and subdue him, leaving a tearful Gwen with a multiverse jumper to make her escape.
The film then transitions to Miles Morales’ Brooklyn, where our hero is running late for a meeting with his parents and college counselor. Miles wants to apply to Columbia University’s physics program to work on a project that could allow for multiverse jumping — possibly to find a way to see Gwen again. Unfortunately, he’s having a hard time keeping his superhero secret from his parents…and they’re beginning to get suspicious.
Before the reel was shown, Lord and Miller revealed that over 1,000 animation staffers are working on “Across the Spider-Verse,” a record for an animated feature film. They also revealed that the sequel will have 240 characters and will be set across six different Spidey universes, a scope that is likely the reason why the film has once again been delayed to a release in summer 2023.
Lord and Miller also revealed that the third installment of the “Spider-Verse” film will be titled “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse,” with a release set in 2024.
It’s no surprise that “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” would be a big source of conversation at CinemaCon considering how Sony and Marvel Studios’ live-action film “Spider-Man: No Way Home” rejuvenated the moribund theatrical box office and became one of the most successful movies of all time (with $1.892 billion) — and that was in the middle of the Omicron surge and at the tail end of a pandemic that has forever altered the way people go to the movies.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson and “Soul” co-director Kemp Powers, with Sony Pictures Animation and Sony ImageWorks handling the complex, comic book-y animation.
Once again, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord are producing and worked on the screenplay (alongside David Callaham). Shameik Moore again stars alongside Hailee Steinfeld and Jake Johnson, along with new Spider-Verse recruits Issa Rae (as Jessica Drew / Spider-Woman) and Oscar Isaac (as Miguel O’ Hara / Spider-Man 2099).
A follow-up, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Part II,” will hit theaters on March 29, 2024.