Sony’s sprawling Spider-Verse is getting “way, way, way bigger,” producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller teased at CinemaCon, the annual exhibition trade show currently underway in Las Vegas.
After turning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” into a critical and commercial smash, the filmmakers hyped up a crowd of movie theater owners by showing an exclusive look at the first 15 minutes of the follow-up “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Lord and Miller also announced the next installment, previously denoted as “Part II,” will be titled “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.”
Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman introduced Lord and Miller, touting their animated films as a “singularly innovative franchise.”
Before unveiling the never-before-seen footage of “Across the Spider-Verse,” which continues the story of Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), Lord and Miller teased some details about the sequel, which takes place in six universes. (The original only transpired in a measly one universe). They’re also upping the body count. The first movie had 40 characters; the sequel has 240.
“Across the Spider-Verse” starts on Earth-65, putting the spotlight on Gwen Stacy a.k.a. Spider-Woman (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld). While at home, she gets word that Adrian Toomes, the villain also known as Vulture, is wreaking havoc on the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. She swings into action, finding the popular landmark in shambles and fending off the chaos around her.
“This is the dumbest way to die,” a sardonic Gwen Stacy says as she’s in Vulture’s grasp. She escapes and encounters Miguel O’Hara a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099 (voiced by Oscar Isaac). He’s not too thrilled with Gwen, scolding her because she “left a hole wide enough for guys like him [Vulture] to get shot into the wrong dimension.”
Not only does she meet a new Spider-Man, she comes face to face with another Spider-Woman, known as Jessica Drew (voiced by Issa Rae). Rae’s character is five months pregnant, but she does not know the gender because her partner wants it to be a surprise. “He’s corny,” she says.
Back on Earth as we know it — or, the anchor reality introduced in the first film — Miles Morales is still struggling with timeliness. We meet him in his Spidey suit trying to thwart some bad guys while also running late for a college counseling session. His oft-exasperated parents (voiced by Luna Lauren Velez and Brian Tyree Henry) are making excuses to his dry and problematic counselor (the hilarious Rachel Dratch). When Miles does finally drop in, his parents learn of his ambition to attend Columbia University — which Mom thinks is way too far from their native Brooklyn.
“Columbia is in New York,” he cries. “How is New York far from New York?”
It’s not long before Miles is called again to fight some neighborhood crime (which also ensnares his police officer father). As Mrs. Morales prepares to leave the session solo, the counselor looks to her and says in an ominous tone, “He’s lying to you. Your son is lying to you.”
Theater owners were treated to footage so raw, the computer-generated graphics were not in their final form. Lord and Miller have plenty of time to touch up the animation. “Across the Spider-Verse” is not set to release until June 2, 2023, and “Beyond the Spider-Verse” is not opening until March 29, 2024.
“To the worthy opposition, I’d say: Watch the fuck out,” Rothman said in reference to their release dates.