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With animation, Spider-Man breaks free from the limits of cinema

More than 240 characters in six parallel universes: the directors of the animated film “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” explain to AFP their plan to meet the expectations created by the first opus, awarded by an Oscar.

The first images, not finalized, of this film, one of the most anticipated of 2023, were given a standing ovation by the public at the International Animation Film Festival in Annecy, a French city located near the Swiss border. We find there the New York teenager Miles Morales, a young mixed-race Afro-American and Puerto Rican, who will wear the clothes of the man-spider. Like the first installment, “Spider-Man: New Generation”, released in 2019, the film is a demonstration of technical know-how, with different visual styles in the six parallel universes that the superhero will visit.

Among the scenes unveiled, a very impressive fight against a vulture inside the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the irruption of a Spiderwoman on a motorcycle, several months pregnant, and a double family intrigue, on the side of Miles’ parents , and those of his sidekick Gwen. Miles Morales “remains the star, at the heart of the story. But we didn’t want to rest on our laurels and follow the easiest path,” Kemp Powers, one of the three co-directors, told AFP. .

The team knows they are expected at the turn: the first film was a success “by word of mouth”, they point out, and created great expectations. “It’s an even more complex story than in the first one, where a lot of the characters came into Miles’ world. This time, he’s the one who travels through a bunch of dimensions,” Mr Powers continues.

The opportunity to use a whole range of different animation techniques, far from the sometimes standardized 3D of contemporary animation. Tools that allowed the team to introduce a new super-villain, “The Spot” (the point in French), with a body covered in black spots, an elusive silhouette that evolves and strengthens over the course of the plot.

“Animation is a great medium because there are things you can only do like that,” says Justin Thompson, another co-director. “‘The Spot’ is a good example of what you can’t replicate with live action. Its movements, its actions interacting with multiple characters at the same time, in live action, it would look a little rotten, and there it is fluid!”, he continues.

Finally, “the only limit is time”, despite five or six years of production for each of the films, a third of which is due out in 2024, abounds Kemp Powers, “but our imagination has no limits”. Beyond the technical aspect, the team wants to deliver a film “that everyone can grasp: from babies to grandparents, including everyone in between”, adds the third director, Joachim Dos. Santos. Basically, “it’s the story of a child who has a relationship with his loving parents, of a 15-year-old teenager who begins to spread his wings, and he spreads them a little across the + multiverse +”, he says.

This visual spectacle is “designed for the big screen”, insists Kemp Powers, questioned on the subject at a time when certain films are skipping the cinema box to land directly on the platforms. He knows something about it: his previous film, “Soul”, Oscar 2021 for best animated film, was deprived of theatrical release by Disney / Pixar. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” will be visible in cinemas in June 2023 … “except for an invasion of Martians or world war!”, he jokes.

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