A senior animator on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse revealed the upcoming wall-crawling sequel is not a kid's movie.
Sony Pictures Animation's Spider-Verse 2 comes with the lofty task of not continuing the story of Into the Spider-Verse, but following up on a film that literally re-defined what an animated film could be.
The first film took the medium of animation, broke nearly every rule for said medium, and did so by telling a mature and nuanced story that one may not expect from a bright and colorful animated film. Across the Spider-Verse is looking like it will take the torch from its predecessor in that respect, telling another exciting story, that has been called "[Avengers:] Endgame-esque."
And for anyone wondering if the upcoming sequel would lose that mature edge, one Across the Spider-Verse animator has swung in to quell those fears.
Spider-Verse 2 Is Not a Kid's Movie
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is not a kid's movie according to the senior character animator on the film, Ere Santos.
In an exclusive interview with The Direct's Klein Felt, Santos revealed that "some of the choices characters [make]" during the story had much of the team asking, "This is a kid's movie? I guess it's not a kid's movie:"
"It was really challenging project. So it was a lot of frustrating times, something every production has. But what kind of kept us going was we'd be frustrated, or something would change, or a sequence was cut, and then we'd see a new render, and we'd be like, 'Okay, alright? Let's go, let's go,' And also, some of the choices characters were making in the story were like, 'What? Okay, all right. This is a kid's movie? I guess it's not a kid's movie. Okay, cool. Yeah, that's good.' So it's very, very, super exciting to me."
The Spider-Verse 2 animator said if fans thought "the first one was intense. [they've] seen nothing [yet]" when it comes to the follow-up story:
"I think something that one of the producers would say was ‘this is completely new. This is completely new. We're not trying to redo anything we've done before.’ And when you see the movie, you will see that basically nothing is redone. And I remember when I was interviewing for the job, they were saying, 'Oh, you thought the first one was intense. You've seen nothing, it's gonna be amazing.' And I'm like, 'Sure, whatever you say.'"
He remembered joining the project and just thinking "What? This is real?" over multiple sequences, calling the original movie "very small and contained comparatively:"
"And then I joined the company and then I saw all the renders. And I saw all the different screenings that are for the movie. And I was like, 'What? This is real? Okay, this is exciting.' And anytime I was working on on Across the Spider-Verse, and I'd watch Into the Spider-Verse, I would kind of feel like, 'Oh, wow, this movie feels very small and contained comparatively.' Which when I tell people they're like, 'I don't believe that.' And I'm like, 'Well, just wait to see. You'll see.'"
When prodded on how the beloved Into the Spider-Verse can feel small in comparison to its sequel, Santos pointed to "the risks that they're taking" in the film:
"Yeah, I think from what I can say, it's just with the risks that they're taking with the art styles and the energy that's in the movie. With the scope of the movie. It's one of those movies that you as a filmmaker you're part of, and you think to yourself, 'How in the world are we going to make this movie?' And I'm not part of the production anymore, but I'm still like, ‘How are they going to make that movie?’ But they are."
He lamented that "[he's] seen stuff in the movie that [he's] never seen in art before:"
"I think, to be more specific, it's just the different art styles that they have, the different effects that they have on the different visuals, and the different worlds you travel to and it's very exciting. A lot of stuff that's been said already, but from an insider perspective, I've seen stuff in the movie that I've never seen in art before. And I'm very, very excited for the world to see."
What to Expect in Across the Spider-Verse
It is reassuring to know that Across the Spider-Verse will not lose that more mature edge that was seen in the last film. While no one should expect something dark and gritty like Netflix's Daredevil or DC's The Batman, this franchise can still deal with more complex characters and narrative decisions meant for an older audience.
What should be even more exciting though is that, despite this mature bent coming over from Into the Spider-Verse, there was an effort to make this film "completely new." As Santos said, "[they were] not trying to redo anything [they've] done before."
The first Spider-Verse film was full of massive risks, from its unorthodox animation style to its very existence at all. The fact that even more risks were the first thing that came to mind when Santos compared the first and second movies should say a lot about how big these creative and narrative leaps are going to be in the second film.
The animator has explained that the film was like "the wild west" creatively, and it certainly sounds like these animators, producers, writers, and directors are making the film they truly want to make, and one that lives up to the lofty legacy of Into the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse comes to theaters worldwide on June 2, 2023