ANNECY, FRANCE (AFP) – With more than 240 characters in six dimensions, the creators of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse are pushing animation and storytelling to the limits with the follow-up to their Oscar-winning hit.
The first unfinished images from the sequel, one of the most anticipated of 2023, received a standing ovation at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France on Tuesday.
Once again, it focuses on New York teenager Miles Morales, who is just one of several different forms of spider superhero spread across parallel dimensions.
Like the first installment, 2019’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will be a show of technical wizardry, with different visual styles used for each of the universes the superhero visits.
Among the scenes released Tuesday was a wildly impressive fight with a vulture at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, with a heavily pregnant Spider-Woman crashing into the scene on a motorcycle.
Morales “has always been the center of everything. But we didn’t want to rest on our laurels and take the easy way out,” said Kemp Powers, one of the film’s three directors. AFP. The team feels the weight of expectation this time.
The first film was an unexpected success, gradually gaining momentum thanks to good reviews and public reactions, eventually winning the Oscar for best animation.
“It’s very ambitious: the idea was to push ourselves creatively and test the limits of what technology can do,” said co-director Joachim dos Santos, while promising that the plot would still be understandable to everyone from “babies to grandparents.”
The team is especially having fun creating new villain The Spot, who will be played by Jason Schwartzman, whose body is a series of holes that look like an unfinished drawing that changes shape.
“Animation is a wonderful medium because there are things you can only do with animation,” said co-director Justin Thompson. AFP.
“You couldn’t imagine that any live-action medium could replicate what we’re doing now with The Spot in terms of his look, his movement, his interaction with multiple people at the same time… he would look so cheesy live. action, but it actually looks smooth in the animation.”
While the directors enjoy escaping the confines of reality — “no part of the movie is subject to physics or gravity,” Powers said — there are some unavoidable limitations.
“We have five or six years per film. We have great teams, but no one can imagine how long it takes to do just a few seconds,” she said. “While our imagination has no limits, time is a limit.”
The film will be released worldwide in June 2023 and a third installment is planned for the following year. The creators are determined that both get a full theatrical release, especially after Powers had to see his previous film, Pixar’s Soul, go straight to streaming due to the pandemic.
“We make them for the big screen, and they will be on the big screen, barring an alien invasion or world war!” he said.