Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse's release has been delayed – and, surprisingly, I'm okay with that.
For those who may have missed the announcement: on April 20, Sony revealed that it was moving Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse from October 7, 2022 to June 2, 2023. The animated superhero film's title has also been abbreviated, with the "Part One" aspect of its name removed for a cleaner title.
Naturally, the next Spider-Man movie's delayed launch also means that its sequel has been pushed back, too. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part Two – which retains its full, original title – won't swing into theaters until March 29, 2024.
A shift in the multi-verse.🕸 Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – June 2, 2023🕸 Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part II – March 29, 2024#SpiderVerse pic.twitter.com/WcyfDHaxpVApril 21, 2022
Understandably, Spider-Man and general comic book movie fans have expressed disappointment at the news. I'm certainly among that number, but my sadness is alleviated somewhat by the fact that I know Sony has made the right call here.
For one, a movie like Across the Spider-Verse needs a lot of due care and attention. It's an animated spectacle, after all, and films of this ilk take time to get right. There are multiple, lengthy steps in the animation pipeline process before an animated project is ready to be released into the wild. Patience from fans, as well as those working on the movie, then, should always be a pre-requisite for a movie like Across the Spider-Verse.
That emotional endurance is doubly important when you consider the various animation styles that Across the Spider-Verse is likely to include.
Into the Spider-Verse, Across the Spider-Verse's predecessor, was lauded for its unique animation style. Its comic book-esque aesthetic wowed audiences and critics alike, while its celebration of other visual styles – anime, cel animation, and CGI to name three – gave it a wholly unique look and feel. It's unsurprising, then, that Into the Spider-Verse scooped up multiple gongs on the 2019 awards circuit.
Across the Spider-Verse is set to one-up its predecessor with even more distinct art styles. In a chat with Collider (opens in new tab), producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller confirmed that each universe in Across the Spider-Verse will have its own individual aesthetic. It stands to reason, then, that Across the Spider-Verse's development cycle will be longer than Into the Spider-Verse's was, based on the sheer amount of pre-vis, animation, compositing, and rendering work required for each of its art styles.
The ongoing pandemic is likely to have played a role in the film's delay, too. We've seen the effects of Covid-19 on the movie and TV industries, with multiple live-action productions suffering production and release date delays.
Animated projects, though, are sure to have felt the effects on a greater scale. Unlike live-action productions, such as The Witcher or Marvel movies, employees working on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse don't necessarily have to be in the same room to work on a film like this. They can be developed remotely but, as we've seen on similar animated flicks including Pixar's Luca, this working practice can lead to bottlenecks in production. Employees may spend more time in online meetings than actually working on the film, while animation pipeline complications might arise due to technology and/or internet limitations at employees' home-based offices.
Development on Across the Spider-Verse may have started pre-pandemic – it's been in the works since November 2018 – but the bulk of its production didn't take place until the pandemic had hit. With employees having to transition to remote working (or, in recent times, hybrid working), the film's development is sure to have suffered set-backs.
And yet Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse's delayed release may actually prove to be a blessing in disguise.
2022 is shaping up to be a massive year for comic book movie and TV show launches. There are no fewer than nine Marvel Phase 4 projects (three films, four Disney Plus shows, and two TV specials), three DC Extended Universe movies, and numerous streaming service superhero offerings, such as The Umbrella Academy and The Boys, launching before the year is out. It's in Across the Spider-Verse's best interests to distance itself from that myriad collection.
Okay, 2023's slate of superhero films and TV series is looking fairly stacked as well. But, The Flash's June 23, 2023 launch aside, Across the Spider-Verse has free rein of the comic book movie market ahead of its own June 2023 release.
Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy 3 arrives in May 2023, while Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and another Sony Spider-Man spin-off – Madame Web – land in July 2023. However, there's enough time between Across the Spider-Verse's release, and those before and after it, for it to succeed at the box office and wow audiences with its potentially poignant storyline, humor, action sequences, and jaw-dropping visuals.
So, am I disappointed with Across the Spider-Verse's delayed launch? Yes. But am I worried that its pushed back release date will impact my excitement for it? Not at all. If anything, its delay will allow the film's entire workforce to make it as good as it can be and deliver a movie that's sure to far exceed my expectations. For that to happen, I'm more than happy to wait for its arrival – and I'm sure you are, too.