The success of the original flick shouldn’t come as any surprise. The story was excellent, the cast were superb and, most importantly, the animation was fantastically innovative. In maintaining a comic book-esque style while playing with frame rates, Spider-Verse conjured an experience that felt unique and distinct, which let it conquer the yearly offerings of Pixar and Disney. Indeed, this is where this news isn’t just great for audiences, but for studios.
Disney’s franchise monopoly, already consisting of all other Marvel properties and Star Wars, and their tried and tested formula have held them at the top of the food chain for years as an invincible entity. But Sony has finally made them draw blood and, with a bit of hope, the other studios of Hollywood will step up in the world of animation as well.
Behind the scenes of the sequel are some creative changes. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman are stepping down as Co-Directors, with Joaquim Dos Santos taking over their duties. If not by name, Santos should be familiar to many animation fans as a prominent director of Justice League: Unlimited and the final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, both acclaimed for their animation and mature themes. Although its hard to say goodbye to those that made the original a success, the choice to bring on such a talent could very well be strategic and even crucial in continuing Spider-Verse’s legacy of innovation.
As for the Screenplay, Rothman and Phil Lord are being succeeded by David Callaham. The choice is a curious one, not just for this particular sequel, but in Hollywood’s recent fascination with him. In addition to the Spider-Verse sequel, Callaham has also been tapped to write the MCU’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and co-wrote the screenplay for the hotly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984. This sudden uptake in work is interesting when considering that his prior work on throwaway projects, such as Doom (2005) and The Expendables (2010). Of course, stranger things have happened - Scary Movie 3 scribe Craig Mazin recently wrote and produced the critically acclaimed Chernobyl – and so it’s only fair to give Callaham the benefit of the doubt.
Possibilities for the story direction at the moment are really anyone’s guess. Unfortunately, Miles Morales is a relatively new creation, first appearing in 2011, and doesn’t quite have the myriad of villains and stories that Peter Parker has built over his five-decade existence. Moreover, the announcement of a Spider-Women spin-off may also indicate that Morales will be riding this one solo as opposed to the inter-dimensional team-up of the original film. But this could be greatly beneficial to Morales, as a cleanish palette and a clearer focus on him could bring him the forefront, both in the mainstream and in the comics, where his presence has declined following the departure of creator Brian Michael Bendis.
Foregoing the inter-dimensional shenanigans of Spider-Verse, if this is the route the sequel takes, could initially detract moviegoers from the project, as the concept was so heavily featured in the forefront of the film and marketing. That being said, Morales’ Afro-Latino identity is still likely to be unique in the superhero genre and will certainly continue to be culturally stimulating and diverse when the sequel finally arrives in 2022, while the multiverse concept has already been worn by the CW’s Arrowverse and will be exhausted in the MCU’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021). Morales is the heart of the Spider-Verse and Sony will do well to remember it.