There seems to be a growing sense of malaise around Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s fair enough. But it’s worth remembering: 2023 already gave us at least one of the best Marvel movies in recent memory: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-VerseAnd now Across the Spider-Verse is available on streaming.

The film was the sequel to the acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which was not only a hit in theaters, it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for 2018. Picking up the story of Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), it follows him as he is excluded from a new “Spider Society” led by Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac). The group protects the “Spider-Verse” from existential threats — which, apparently, includes Miles himself.

Sony Pictures Animation

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Although perhaps not quite as singular and unique as Into the Spider-VerseAcross the Universe boasted gorgeous animation, even more different visual styles than its predecessor, a slew of alternate Spider-Men, and some fascinating themes about what makes someone a hero, and who gets to determine who is worthy of bearing the mantle of heroism.

As I wrote in my review earlier this year...

Into the Spider-Verse was really about the universality of Spider-Man’s values; how you didn’t have to be a dorky kid from Queens named Peter Parker to be Spider-Man. Anyone who believed that great power comes with great responsibility, and wanted to use whatever innate gifts they possessed to help others, could be a hero. Across the Spider-Verse still features plenty more non-Peter Parker-y Spider-Men; it’s even got a Spider-Horse or two. But it’s also much more about what it means to create something that rejects the notion that Peter Parker needs to be the central focus of every Spider-Man story, even in the face of intense opposition. It’s also about notion that every sequel needs to spoon-feed the audience more of the same stuff they liked the first time around.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now streaming on Netflix. The sequel, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, was scheduled for release next year, but due to the ongoing actors strike, the film was recently removed from Sony’s upcoming release calendar and has yet to receive an updated release date.

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