Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Reveals Villain, Many New Characters [Annecy 2022]

"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is not only the best movie of 2018, it is one of the finest superhero movies ever made, and one of the best American studio animated films ever made. A triumph of both comic-book storytelling as well as animation, the film redefined what a superhero origin story could be, what a superhero could look like on screen, all while introducing what still remains the best depiction of the multiverse in a major motion picture.

And even if it didn't invent its visual style ⁠— a mix of 2D and 3D that falls in the middle of realistic and cartoonish ⁠— the movie's mainstream success has led to a rise in that particular style in other big productions, from "Arcane" and "The Bad Guys," to the upcoming "Puss in Boots" sequel and Netflix's "Entergalactic."

During the Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2022, Sony Pictures Animation shared a sneak preview of the highly anticipated sequel, "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" which is actually the first of a two-part sequel, with "Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse" following in 2024.

Surprise, surprise, this movie looks incredible

The "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" footage shown was the same that was revealed during this year's CinemaCon, but there were a lot of technical details unveiled during the presentation that should have fans excited.

For one, co-director Justin K. Thompson revealed that the two sequels will introduce upwards of 240 characters, more than any Sony Animation movie. While this probably means a lot of characters will only be seen in the background, the prospect of seeing both well-known but also obscure and niche characters is quite intriguing — sadly, there was no first look at the film's version of Leopardon.

It was also emphasized that each of the six dimensions we'll see in the film will look drastically different from the other. The first we see is Gwen's, designated Earth-65. That universe is heavily inspired by the first "Spider-Gwen" comics, with watercolors and paper textures covering her lush universe. To make this a reality, Sony Imageworks created new technology that allows for watercolor simulation to be used on backgrounds, even buildings, giving the film a comic book look. 

'Property Damage Spider-Man'

This being an animation festival with a heavy focus on craft, a big focus of the presentation was the new techniques being used for the sequels. Kevin Noel, senior vice president of production for Sony Pictures Animation, noted before the presentation that the first "Spider-Verse" was a big gamble, visuals-wise. Yet it paid off not just for Sony, but the animation landscape at large, with this style being used everywhere now.

One of the most anticipated characters appearing in the film is Oscar Isaac's Spider-Man 2099, who in the footage even has some Spanish lines to reflect Miguel O'Hara's heritage. According to Joaquim Dos Santos, Miguel is a "more feral, futuristic, intimidating" Spider-Man, more imposing than any we've seen before. He relies more on technology and his physical prowess, as he sports a nanotech suit like Iron Man, a wing suit that allows him to fly, and laser webs that instantly make him the coolest Spider-Man. Oh, and he does not need to stick to buildings and climb up, but he uses his suit's claws to just open holes in the building as he jumps up. This is why the team at Sony dubbed him "Property Damage Spider-Man."

Meet The Spot

Towards the end of the panel, the three co-directors unveiled one new character making his on-screen debut. The villain of the film: The Spot.

Voiced by Jason Schwartzman, The Spot's whole body is covered in interdimensional portals he can use to travel anywhere he wants to, or even appear in the air to transport people or things across dimensions. Of course, this threatens to destroy the fabric of the multiverse. Each spot is meant to feel like "living ink" hand-drawn by different artists. His look will also morph and change throughout the film as he grows more comfortable with his powers.

The directors also made it a point to praise the work of the original comic-book artists like Rick Leonardi and even Brian Stelfreeze, who lend their expertise to the film in order to approach the visual style with which characters like Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man 2099 looked on the page. At a time where comic artists are being name-dropped, but not compensated for their work creating these huge characters that are adapted into the screen, it feels like a step in the right direction involving them in the filmmaking process for "Across the Spider-Verse," even if it's a small part.

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos ("The Legend of Korra"), Kemp Powers ("Soul"), Justin K. Thompson ("Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"). Phil Lord and Chris Miller ("Clone High") produced the movie and co-wrote the screenplay with David Callaham ("America: The Motion Picture"). The film sees the return of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker, Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy, and Oscar Isaac as Spider-Man 2099. Also joining the cast is Issa Rae as Spider-Woman.

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" releases June 2, 2023, followed by "Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse" on March 29, 2024.