Breaking the Mold: Gen Z’s Quest for Independence Explored in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Setting a new benchmark for animated films, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is overcharged by an intricate story, mesmerising visuals, and complex themes.

Masterfully building upon the foundation set by its critically acclaimed predecessor, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse explodes onto the big screen with a compelling story, incredible visuals, and thought-provoking themes. Taking inspiration from the many stories that came before it, the animated masterpiece successfully taps into the complex truth of what it takes to be a hero. If the first film showed us how anyone can be a hero, the sequel takes the idea further, asking what defines heroism.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Balancing Extravagance and Grounded Characters:

Narratively, Across the Spider-Verse balances the extravagant nature of its story with a more grounded approach to its characters. In this sequel, the film explores the relationship between the two protagonists Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld). Despite being separated by the absurdity of the multiverse, there’s a tremendous level of emotional complexity in their shared story, which is manifested through their desires for company, friendship, and intimacy.

Loneliness and Emotional Complexity in the Multiverse:

According to a study, 73% of Gen Z report feeling alone either sometimes or always—the highest level of any generation. By definition, loneliness is the state of distress or discomfort that results when one perceives a gap between one’s desire for social connection and the actual experience of it. In an era when people should be more connected than ever, there are a whole lot of lonely people.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Finding Identity in the Multiverse:

Miles’ loneliness and romantic longing for Gwen serve as the perfect contrast to a universe that’s often presented in vibrant, warm tones. It’s a narrative tool to establish how similar these superpowered, otherworldly individuals are to one another, despite originating from different universes. In addition, we see the film’s protagonist wrestle with finding his own place in the grand scale of the multiverse, as the film encourages you to think on a metatextual level about what it means when people (or Spider-people) dismiss the validity of Miles’ identity as Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Encouraged by his parents to forge his own path, Miles does exactly that when he ends up at odds with the vast majority of the Spider Society. There’s something disorientating about a legion of Spider-people ganging up on Miles to succumb him to a scripted narrative of heroism. Miles Morales is an unlikely hero with the potential to seize his own destiny rather than surrender to the idea of a predetermined fate. In across the Spider-Verse, Miles’ isolation provides emotional gravitas that resonates with fans.

Rejecting Determinism: Seizing One’s Own Destiny:

Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) believes that canon events (often deadly) must happen, and he’s willing to let people die if he determines their demise is necessary for the betterment of the multiverse. On the other hand, Miles disagrees and believes in saving as many people as he can. Through the characters’ different perspectives, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse examines the concepts of determinism and free will and the moral responsibilities rooted in those worldviews. The free will versus determinism debate explores the extent to which forces beyond our control shape our behavior, or if individuals have the ability to consciously decide how to act and behave.

Examining the Magnitude of Responsibility:

At this point, we’re familiar with the immortal mantra of “With great power comes great responsibility,” but are we ready to examine the magnitude of that responsibility and the railroad of destiny it entails? The Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel meticulously places those ethical dilemmas within the structure of an existential framework. Witnessing Miles’ rejection of this concept of tried-and-true storytelling is groundbreaking for the genre.

Recontextualizing Superheroes: Beyond the Spider-Man Credo:

At its core, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is about rejecting determinism, to move forward with what you have. While the film masterfully explores the Spider-Man credo of loneliness and sacrifice, it isn’t content with being just another Spider-Man movie. In many ways, the note-perfect sequel recontextualizes the idea of superheroes. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse challenges our ideas about great power and responsibility, understanding of the human condition, as well as internal beliefs about heroism and morality.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a triumph that captivates Gen Z viewers with its exploration of loneliness, identity, and heroism. With its compelling story, incredible visuals, and thought-provoking themes, the film transcends the boundaries of the superhero genre. As Miles Morales navigates the multiverse and grapples with the concepts of determinism and free will, audiences are taken on a profound journey of self-discovery and the pursuit of one’s own destiny. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse challenges and inspires, leaving a lasting impact on viewers of all generations.