Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a leap of faith for Sony, but it has seemingly paid off in spades. The Miles Morales-centered animated epic blew audiences away back in 2018, enough to so to warrant two sequels. The first Spider-Verse follow-up, Across the Spider-Verse, hits theaters next summer and, instead of the Kingpin, Miles and co will go up against the villain The Spot this time.
The Spot was recently announced to feature heavily in the film with Hollywood veteran Jason Schwartzman playing the big bad. The character is one of Spidey's lesser-known antagonists, possessing the ability to create inter-dimensional portals akin to ink splotches. In the comics, Spot starts as Dr. Jonathan Ohnn, an MIT scientist who works for Kingpin, but after an experiment gone wrong, he becomes the polka-dot-covered supervillain.
While it is unknown how the character will play into the massive plot of Across the Spider-Verse, the directing team behind the film have hinted at what makes The Spot so special.
Meet The Spot
In an interview with CartoonBrew.com, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse directing trio Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin Thompson, and Kemp Powers commented on what makes the film's villain, The Spot, a perfect match for the sequel.
Dos Santos said that Spot works as "an awesome sort of opposite to Miles," making mention that a movie's hero is only as strong as its "awesome villain:"
"Pretty early on we knew the Spot was going to be our main villain. Without an awesome villain, who you sort of can understand with their through-line, you don’t really have a strong story for your main character. So he’s an awesome sort of opposite to Miles."
In regards to the villains living ink powers, Dos Santos went on to say that "it’s not just an effect. It’s artistry come to life," saying that it's something that could only "really happen in animation:"
"And his living ink really is just, I think we’ve all been saying, it’s not just an effect. It’s artistry come to life. It’s something that can only really happen in animation.
You can imagine Spot as a dude in a sock suit in a live-action Spider-Man film. It’s not going to work. It’s just not going to work. So he’s art come to life. He’s the inkwell spilled on the page. It all goes back to sort of comic books and comic book art."
Powers chimed in saying that The Spot is very similar to Kingpin in that both villains have "such a strong story that was the perfect complement to Miles" despite not being the first names that might come to fans' minds when thinking of Spidey's vast rogue's gallery. The director said The Spot has "endless potential" from both a visual and narrative standpoint:
"And similarly is Spot. From the very beginning he just seemed like endless potential, both visually and arc of the character. Because you know by the way that’s not a costume, that’s his skin. By the way that he’s wearing it you know it’s not a guy in a polka dot suit. That’s actually his skin. So you know, the arc of Dr. Ohnn Spot is one that does really complement, without giving away the story, it really does complement the the journey of Miles in this film really well.”
On the visual front, Tompson marveled at the work that has gone into making The Spot make sense on screen. He described the "ink spot techniques" that they have developed for the project, saying that the particular animation "tool [needed] has taken a year to develop," mentioning that he "[thinks The Spot] is going to blow people’s minds:"
"And one thing that I said when we were making the first movie, ‘I don’t want anything to be a cheat. I want it all to work in space.’ And I tried to encourage alot of people to go and see the movie in 3D. It’s a different experience. I wanted to make it so if you go see the movie in 3D in IMAX, all those dots, all those hatch marks, they all travel through space and depth. It isn’t just on the screen. It isn’t just projected at surface level. And same thing with these ink spots. I want them to actually move in three-dimensional space as well. And I want them to feel and look and move. And Spot is going to be, you just saw a tease, I think he is going to blow people’s minds."
Powers added that the Across the Spider-Verse villain is "a walking effect." If fans have any doubts, he hopes that when they see the film it will be "just like in the first one" when "you couldn’t imagine it being someone other than Kingpin running things."
"Like I said, [The Spot's] journey so wonderfully complements Miles' journey in this film, that hopefully when you see it that just line in the first one you, couldn’t imagine it being someone other than a Kingpin running things. I think in this one you won’t be able to imagine it being anyone other than The Spot."
It Could Only Ever Be The Spot
When The Spot was revealed to be the main antagonist in Across the Spider-Verse some fans showed a little apprehension. The character does not have the name recognition that someone like the Green Goblin, Vulture (who will also appear in the film), or even Kingpin has. However, listening to the film's directors talking about the villain, it feels like it couldn't be anyone else.
It is not just about telling an incredible story, featuring some big names, with these filmmakers. They are actually aiming to actually push the animated medium forward. And from the sound of things, that is exactly what they are going to do.
One of the things that so many latched on to was how the visual style of Into the Spider-Verse played directly into the story that it was telling between Kingpin and Miles. Now they are going to do it all again, with Dr. Jonathan Ohnn.
While, as of now, the general moviegoing public has yet to see The Spot in motion, it feels like only a matter of time before a first glimpse is made public.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on June 2, 2023.