Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse Photo

Bridging the Gap

From the trailers, some of the action sequences give us an indication that quite a lot of squash and stretch is going to be used to bring the cartoony element of the comic book pages to life. Squash and stretch is going to become even more apparent when we see more of Miles Morales in action. In the footage we’ve seen, you can see small glimpses of Miles’s body pulled out and squashed in in order to give him gravity and speed as he flies through the air. The technique is also used on Peter Parker himself; in one of the final frames of the main trailer, Peter, in his Spider-Man suit and mask, is reacting to Miles, and you can see Peter’s mask stretch vertically as he opens his eyes wider, giving the character a sense of liveliness.

Some squash and stretch is also seen when some of the film’s villains are fighting Miles. They don’t just merely punch; their fists morph through the air as they try to connect their punches. Like with Miles, the technique adds weight and speed to the punches so that they look devastating and impactful.

Unfortunately, we can’t see a ton of Miles or Peter in action in either trailer; clearly, they’re trying to save all of the best parts for the feature release. But just from what we’ve seen, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is going to use squash and stretch as much as they can to add characterization as well as heart-dropping stunts so that you feel like you’re falling with style through the air just like Miles.

The use of squash and stretch also blends into another principle of animation, exaggeration. Once again, exaggeration is tougher in 3D than it is 2D, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is intent on bringing the 2D concept of animation to the 3D world.

Spiderverse 6

A Return to Exaggeration

Throughout the trailer, much of the excitement and action generated comes from the exaggeration of movement. As Miles swings through the city while gaining control of his powers, you see his legs and arms move frantically in the air, conveying how he’s clear he doesn’t know where he’s going to land. His arcs of motion are generally wide, impressing upon the viewer that this action is not only happening in a realm of spatial depth, but it’s happening to a skinny kid who doesn’t have control of his body.

The exaggeration also comes in the form of the amount of comic book texture that’s layered over this film. The villain’s punches and explosions, for instance, are coupled with direction lines, comic book dots, and impact statements like “BOOM.” The exaggeration can also be found in the overall film’s style itself, with the rich, neon colors suggesting a heightened, more fantastic image of New York City.

Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse achieves something I’ve always wanted from 3D animation, which is to be blown away. Up until now, the technique has been cool for subtle storytelling, but has never given me the same feeling I used to get watching 2D animation. However, with this film, I feel like I’m a kid again watching larger-than-life characters doing amazing things. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is pushing 3D into the future by combining old-school elements of its 2D past. Let’s hope the rest of the industry takes note.

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