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A Love Letter To Animation: Across the Spider-verse

Recently, I saw the movie 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse', and it completely exceeded my expectations and made me remember my admiration for animation as an art form. I wanted to briefly write about the effect of the “Spider-verse” films in the animation industry and praise the plot of the newest addition. 

The Animation

In the past few years, the animation industry has been stuck imitating the “Disney look” and creating feature films that underestimate their audience's comprehension of their story, leaving us with underwhelming movies with similar visuals for a couple of years, that was until the release of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse' in 2018.

Its striking visuals inspired by comic books combined with its use of 2D animation alongside 3D made for a groundbreaking style. The movie completely rejected the popular direction of realism for its film and favored artistic decisions throughout its development. The film's blend of experimentation and defiance against some established rules in animation are also responsible for the masterpiece that was 'Spider-Man Into the Spider-verse,' as both were frequently encouraged by the supervisors to the artists: “If it ain't broke, break it!” said Danny Dimian, the VFX supervisor for the film.

For example, animators commonly broke the animating on “1's” rule, which states that every frame should have a different pose. Instead, the animators resorted to animating in “2's” (a different pose every 2 frames), resulting in a more hand-drawn look for the film. Besides that technique, the animators avoided the use of in-betweens to emphasize impact and movement in the characters and how animation, while inspired by the real world, doesn't have to replicate it.

Since the delivery of “Into the Spider-verse” people have now fathomed why live-action remakes of animated movies are lacking and fail to succeed. Animation gives you the freedom to create scenes impossible in the real world and decorate them to your heart's desire. It's a waste of potential to reproduce realism in animation regardless of how impressive it might be.

The stylish core of the film elevated the audience's standards for animation to new heights, forcing the animation industry to evolve so as not to fall behind. After ‘Into the Spider-verse’, we got movies like ‘The Mitchel's VS. The Machines’, ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’, ‘Entergalactic’, and soon ‘‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtle Mayhem’ (I'm so excited for this movie), all of which were motivated to explore the limits of animation and its artistic capacities because of “Spider-verse”.


Now, 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse' impresses animation enthusiasts and Spider-Man fans alike not only for its animation but also for its narrative. The movie perfectly expands on the “Spider-verse” world by continuing the sub-plots that were left unresolved in the first film. For example, the relationship between Miles and his parents that get more suspicious each time Miles has to wear the mask. The side stories made the movie characters feel so human, which gets me to my next point. 

All the characters in the movie are written exceptionally, but I want to quickly mention how the film validates Miguel O’Hara's and Miles Morales's motivations without making them seem evil or good. ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse’ emphasizes how the characters aren’t good or bad people, and rather it's all about their attitude. When both the antagonist and the protagonist have valid motivations, the audience is left with two grey characters on the screen--there isn't a correct answer to who is the "hero" or the "villain".

What made the movie’s narrative so enjoyable was that the writers understood that animation is a medium to express a story not limited to children, hence they weren't afraid to include serious moments and complex scenarios throughout the film. Moreover, they properly handled multiple characters with different subplots without oversaturating the story.

Hopefully, the understanding that animation is an art medium for storytelling will spread and give us more high-quality animated projects in the future. Animation isn’t restricted to children's tales, and the film industry should recognize the massive potential animation has in other genres of fiction to communicate a story. 

Well, that’s it. I can't stress enough how good this movie is. Thanks for reading!


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Imageworks

How Spider-Verse Broke The Rules of 3D Animation - No The Robot

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Harley's profile picture

thank you for sharing your praise, this was a wonderfully well worded review!

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Bontonex's profile picture

Awesome summary, I agree with everything here. The rise of more creative takes on animation since ITSV’s release is a very interesting topic, and gives way for even more variation

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