What makes the 2023 Spider-Man different from its predecessors

Typically, superhero movies are not subjected to critical analysis. This is because they are not made for it, they are made simply to entertain as many people as possible. Superhero movies are just vessels for people to live vicariously through and don’t often have a deeper implicit meaning. Of course that doesn’t mean that no superhero movie ever has a deeper meaning because then I wouldn’t be here talking about “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (2023).

The 2023 Spider-Man film is the sequel to the 2018 animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” In the first movie, we see our protagonist, Miles Morales, learning to become Spider-Man from other Spider-people he meets from the multiverse. In the second movie, we see he has taken these lessons from his friends and has practically perfected being Spider-Man. Also in the second movie, we learn that
multiversal travel has been achieved and is used to fix any accidental anomalies in various universes by a special organization of Spider-people.

All in all, I really enjoyed “Across the Spider-Verse.” I love the animation style, the whole film is so beautiful. I would rate it a 9.5 out of 10. It tells a very unique and important story that I want to explore.

Any Spider-Man fan will tell you, often long-windedly, that the Peter Parker story is inherently tragic. In every iteration, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, has to constantly overcome struggle after struggle. Experiencing horrible tragedies all the time often at a young age.

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To clarify, when I say Peter Parker, I mean anyone who has become Spider-Man, and when I say Spider-Man, I mean anyone with spider-based powers. I’m generalizing the terms for convenience because not every iteration of Spider-Man is named Peter Parker.

This tragic story is essential to the Spider-Man story. It makes Parker who he is and without it, he’s not truly Spider-Man. Before “Across the Spider-verse” this was basically just a theory, but in the movie, they confirmed the idea.

The 2023 addition to the Spider-Man franchise introduces the concept of ‘Canon Events.’ With canon events being occurrences that have to happen within a universe or the fabric of said universe is ripped apart. This explains why this “Spider Society” that’s in charge of controlling the multiverse doesn’t step in constantly to save the day, some things have to happen. Spider-Man can’t always save everyone.


Graphic by Elizabeth Reece

A lot of the Spider-people have similar canon events. The biggest one is Uncle Ben dying, often from a chain reaction that started from something Parker could’ve prevented. Uncle Ben’s death is the catalyst for the main character to learn that, “With great power, comes great responsibility

Now, I should say that I like the idea of canon events in a sense. When you introduce a world of very powerful people that can travel through dimensions, you have to explain why bad events still happen and why the powerful people didn’t stop them. It also solidifies and confirms the idea that Parker’s story is always tragic.

But with this idea of canon events comes very heavy implications. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” confirmed the existence of all three live-action Spider-Man iterations, other animated Spider-Man movies and even Spider-Man video games, which means that
every version of the Spider-Man story we’ve ever seen follows these rules.

I don’t like canon events in the sense that it takes away all suspense. If in the next Spider-Man movie, we are introduced to the chief of police, we know that they are going to die at some point because of canon events. I don’t like how it takes away a character’s agency. It
makes them have no control over what happens in their world.

It makes us ask, Why? Why should we care about this plot if we’ve already been told how it ends? And if any other future Spider-Man media diverts from the canon event path, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” loses all its meaning. It makes me think, why should we care?

If everything that happens to Spider-Man is caused by some unstoppable, otherworldly force, and not because of something a character did,
why should we care? If your movie has the audience wondering why they should care, you might want to go back and fix things.

Now, luckily the third movie in the “Into the Spider-Verse” series has been announced. So the writers have the chance to fix what they’ve set up. They have a lot of plot to cover in the third movie and I hope they set aside some time to answer my questions because if they don’t, we’ll have no reason to care about any future Spider-Man media.

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Megan Weaver, Reporter

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