Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Footage Reaction: It's How You Wear The Mask... [CinemaCon 2023]

The summer movie season is upon us, and with it, the biggest features of the year are taking their marketing campaigns into high gear. In anticipation of this, the major film studios are all gathering in Las Vegas for CinemaCon for a week of presentations on what the future of cinema will be, from trailers, to announcements and world premiere screenings of both blockbusters and smaller films that could break big with audiences.

/Film's own Ben Pearson is in Vegas for CinemaCon, where he is relaying reactions to all the exclusive trailers and footage presentations, including one of the biggest animated movies of the year — "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."

After the original's highly successful theatrical run that ended with an Academy Award win, anticipations are sky high for "Across the Spider-Verse." The sequel is set to continue the story of Miles Morales as he once again gets caught in a conflict that threatens to destroy the entire multiverse, and he's got some new Spider-friends to help him (or chase after him).

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this film. For one, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" shook the American animation industry and its influence can be felt across a variety of projects today, so the sequel has a lot to live up to in terms of visuals. So far, at least, the filmmakers seem to be trying to double down on the innovations, like introducing six distinct art styles and getting comic book artists to help translate their work to the screen.

After some fantastic trailers that teased the story and an epic meeting of Spider-people, it is time we get some actual, detailed footage of "Across the Spider-Verse," which our own Ben Pearson was on the ground to witness.

Gwen and Miles missed each other

"Across-the Spider-Verse" sees the return of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, Jake Johnson as Peter B. Park, Oscar Isaac as Miguel O'Hara, Brian Tyree Henry as Jefferson Davis, and Luna Lauren Vélez as Rio Morales. Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Karan Soni, Jason Schwartzman, Jorma Taccone, and Shea Whigham also star in the film.

It was at CinemaCon in 2022 that we got our very first look at "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" before the trailer was released, and it seems Sony Pictures Animation outdid themselves this year by showing 14 minutes of footage from the upcoming sequel.

The clips promised a movie that's as stylish, heartfelt, and creative as audiences would expect from the sequel to Miles Morales' much-loved 2018 debut. The cast of the film took the stage ahead of time to preface the sneak peek, with Miles' voice actor Shameik Moore emphasizing what this franchise is really all about, "It's how you wear the mask that really makes you a hero."

Moore was accompanied by fellow cast member Hailee Steinfeld, who noted that Gwen Stacy will be on "her own journey as well" in the new movie. Also in attendance was Issa Rae, who plays Spider-Woman Jessica Drew. As Rae puts it, Jessica is "not living a double life; this isn't dress-up for her." The preview footage didn't focus on Jessica, but on young lovebirds Miles and Gwen as the pair break free from Miles' two-month-long grounding to go on what pretty much amounts to a Spidey-date.

The clip starts with Miles grounded in his bedroom, listening to music (Metro Boomin and Daniel Pemberton did the music for the sequence), when items around him begin to spontaneously start floating. It turns out the anti-gravity moment is caused by a portal that opens above him, and Gwen drops out of it. While Miles is clearly embarrassed his crush is seeing his childhood bedroom, including some drawings he made of her, Gwen gives him a hug and tells him she missed him.

Is Spider-Man grounded?

"Wanna get out of here?" Gwen asks after their mini-reunion. "I'm grounded," Miles answers, but Gwen has a way around that. "Is Spider-Man grounded?" she counters. The pair then swing across the city while music blasts. It's a sequence that features lots of super quick cuts, but it also looks impressive, and not just because Miles is clearly trying to show off a little bit. While they move, they talk, and Gwen reveals she's met with some other Spider-Men. She tells him about an elite society of Spider-People, including Oscar Isaac's Spider-Man 2099, who is named Miguel. Gwen describes him as a "ninja vampire Spider-Man." She also mentions a Shakespearean dimension and a guy called Hobie (could this be Hobart Brown?), but Gwen says the powers-that-be are pretty strict about where she's allowed to go, which is why she hasn't visited Miles.

Eventually, the quick, bright action scene slows down and the pair have a heart-to-heart. Gwen hangs upside down while the pair talk, flirt, and take in a view of the city. "You're the only friend I've really made after Pete died," Gwen says, and the pair's hands inch towards one another. "In every other universe, Gwen Stacy falls for Spider-Man," Gwen says, and viewers can tell Miles is thinking about making a move, "And in every other universe, it doesn't end well." Miles starts to pull away but decides to stay close to her after all, saying "There's a first time for everything, huh?"

A clear emotional center

The moment passes after that, as Gwen shows Miles her cool watch band that lets her travel through dimensions. Miles wants to go with her, but she cautions that this Spider Society only has a limited number of slots. She doesn't, however, show him the secret camera she hides on a wall earlier in the pair's conversation. Gwen is up to something, and it seems to involve monitoring a mysterious figure dressed in white, presumably The Spot, who is the villain of the film. 

In the next scene, Gwen and Miles have changed back into their civilian clothes, and when Miles' mother spots Gwen on the rooftop with her son, she's not thrilled. "She looks old enough to vote!" she declares, and Gwen's watch goes off at that moment, saving her from an awkward interaction. 

The footage ended with one more scene between Miles and his mom, in which the pair stand under a water tower and he debates telling her the truth about his identity. "I'm..." he says, and pauses before finishing, "I'm sorry I was late." 

The preview concludes with a sweet, sincere conversation between Miles and his mom in which she talks about letting him go out into the world, and ultimately decides he can hang with Gwen. "When you come back, you're still grounded," she quips. Poor Miles!

Our own Ben Pearson noted, "This is why these movies work so well: There's a clear emotional center underneath all of the insane visuals and incredible action."

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" will swing into theaters on June 2, 2023.