Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is an incomplete triumph

Mad animation wizards Phil Lord and Chris Miller pull out all the stops and then some for a thrilling, funny, ridiculous sequel to one of the best family action movies ever made.

Spider-Man/Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animations’ SPIDER-MAN™: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE. (Image: Sony Pictures Animation COPYRIGHT: © 2023 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

You’re like me.” That simple phrase, repeated a number of times in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is close to the film’s emotional center. Into the Spider-Verse is a layered movie brimming with ideas: It’s about family bonds and self-discovery; it’s about the adolescent struggle for a sense of selfhood independent of one’s parents, and the mentors and heroes to whom we turn in navigating that process. It’s also about disappointment with heroes who let us down, and the precious gift of parental support and affirmation that can come from no one else. It’s about defining losses and the healthy and unhealthy ways of grief.

In all this and more, Into the Spider-Verse is about connection. It’s about finding your tribe, the people who understand you; about recognizing what we have in common with people from very different worlds. Into the Spider-Verse is a film of extraordinary richness, and, as many times I’ve seen it in the last five years, it’s only become more powerful and more personal to me. Just writing this paragraph is enough to get me a bit choked up, and I’m not the only one who loves this movie this way. Maybe you’re like me, some of you reading this.

Returning to the Spider-Verse, for some of us, is a deeply fraught proposition. There is one other animated superhero film that looks deeply into the human condition and which has a profound emotional significance for me: Brad Bird’s 2004 masterpiece The Incredibles. Incredibles 2, made 14 years later, is enjoyable and sometimes moving, but also, for me, unavoidably a disappointment. I don’t want the Spider-Verse to collapse. To be sure, neither do writer–producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller—and if anything is clear about the eye-popping, mightily ambitious sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, it’s that they’ve done everything they could to pull out every possible stop, and perhaps some impossible ones, to expand on the achievement of the first film and take absolutely everything to the next level.

Can anyone actually do that and make it work? Since Across the Spider-Verse is the first part of a two-part sequel (with the conclusion, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, slated for next March), the full extent of their success is up in the air. Pretty much every other trilogy I can think of that’s tried the split-story sequel approach (Back to the Future, The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean) has come up short in the end. Still, if anyone can pull it off, it’s probably Lord and Miller.

What I can tell you at this point about Across the Spider-Verse is that I want to see it about ten more times. I can tell you that it’s full of the joy of discovery and the emotional generosity that is the soul of Into the Spider-Verse. It’s inventive, thrilling, funny, ridiculous, heartwarming, frenetic, and sad. It pushes the groundbreaking visual style of the original to uncharted territory.

At a time when Hollywood animation is generally in a Disney/Pixar plasticine rut, Lord and Miller assemble and empower artists to deliver one revelation after another. (The 2018 film was directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman; the sequel is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.) With every new cartoon they make (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie, The Mitchells vs. the Machines), they do something new—and, if their earlier sequels were exceptions (Cloudy 2 and Lego Movie 2 looked a lot like the originals), Across the Spider-Verse is the exception to the exception.

No two realms of the Spider-Verse are exactly the same. The universe of Hailee Steinfeld’s white-cowled Spider-Gwen (she calls herself Spider-Woman, but she’s not the only one) is brighter and more painterly than that of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), with an overtly watercolor look incorporating both impressionist abstraction and expressionist color. It makes quite a contrast when a supervillain pops up who not only is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s engineering designs, but literally looks like a parchment illustration. A buoyant new Indian Spider-Man, Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni), lives in a Mumbai/New York mashup city of “Mumbattan” (a cross-cultural conceit like the “San Fransokyo” of Big Hero 6) blending pastel colors with sketchy linework. Both worlds combine 3D and 2D with startling boldness and beauty.

If Into the Spider-Verse was about connection, one thing that Across the Spider-Verse is about is isolation and alienation: about knowing that there are other people out there who are like you, but having no access to them, and being surrounded by people who are on a different wavelength. It’s about the particular kind of loneliness characteristic of the digital era. It’s been over a year since a multiversal accident brought a number of Spider-folks into Miles’s life—and since he sent them all back home. Over a year since Miles has felt that “You’re like me” connection with anyone. “There’s Peter,” Miles tries to tell his parents when they ask him about his friends, “but he moved away. And Gwanda…she moved away too.” If it sounds like he’s making them up (and, indeed, “Gwanda” is a silly pseudonym from the first film), he might as well be for all the difference it makes. In her own universe, Gwen’s in a similar predicament. I’m reminded of a line from an old Calvin & Hobbes: “Sometimes I think all my friends have been imaginary.”

Across the Spider-Verse doesn’t keep on being about loneliness, obviously, but the inevitable moment from the trailers in which Miles takes his first steps into a larger multiverse is postponed quite a bit longer than you might think. For Miles, (double) life goes on: He’s got classes; he’s got a guidance counselor meeting with his parents—but first there’s the nuisance of neutralizing an oddball villain of the week named the Spot (Jason Schwartzman, best known to me as Jesper from Klaus and ideally cast here). The Spot’s struggles to break into a life of crime echo Miles’s early awkwardness with his powers, but he’s already got a complicated relationship with Spider-Miles vaguely recalling Syndrome’s grievance against Mr. Incredible and the Joker–Batman relationship from the original Tim Burton film.

Across the Spider-Verse is also about the toll taken on relationships from keeping secrets. A crucial scene in the first film turned on a one-sided exchange between Miles and his dad; here his mother Rio (Luna Lauren Vélez), a nurse, has the standout exchange—but Miles’s secret hangs over both scenes.

Then there’s Gwen’s father George (Shea Whigham), a by-the-book cop like Miles’s Dad Jeff (Brian Tyree Henry). Obviously neither spider-teen is about to tell their dad about their masked alter ego. For what it’s worth, Gwen Stacy in the comics has always been a police captain’s daughter—even the original, non-spider-powered Gwen killed by the Green Goblin back in 1973. The original Captain Stacy was a shrewd Spider-Man supporter until his accidental death in 1970 shielding a boy from falling debris during a Spidey battle. (None of this is a spoiler, but also I’m not mentioning it for no reason.) Spider-Gwen’s father doesn’t have the kind of working relationship with his friendly neighborhood Spider-peep that the original had—or that Miles’s dad now has with his Brooklyn’s new Spidey. This Captain Stacy is out to arrest Spider-Woman, whom he wrongly blames for the death of their world’s Peter Parker. Kind of like how in Into the Spider-Verse Miles’s dad briefly blamed Spider-Man for the death of his brother, Miles’s Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), aka the Prowler.

All those recurring patterns! Is tragedy necessary to ground any Spider-Man—to impress upon him the defining lesson of power and responsibility? Is the new Indian Spider-Man’s cheery optimism evidence that he has yet to suffer a defining loss? In the first movie, after Uncle Aaron is killed, Miles’s spider-pals commiserate. “We’ve all been there,” janky hobo Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) assures him. And they have. All of them. Across the Spider-Verse looks deeply at these convergences and asks how deep the rabbit hole goes—in the process raising some issues overlapping with recent multiverse storytelling in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This is where I must acknowledge some apprehension. Among early new faces are an intimidating “ninja vampire Spider-Man” named Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), aka Spider-Man 2099, and a very pregnant Spider-Woman (Issa Rae) on a motorcycle. (This Spider-Woman shares the name Jessica Drew with Marvel Comics’ first Spider-Woman—though the original Jessica Drew was White and this one is Black, with an enormous Afro like the small-screen Black Spider-Woman of The Electric Company’s “Spidey Super Stories,” aka Valerie the Librarian. Sorry, this time I am mentioning this for no reason—I can’t help it! This movie is so geeky even I’m probably getting only about a third of it, and I remember the Spot’s 1984 debut in the comics.) Later we meet (among many, many, many, many, many other iterations) the ultimate punk-rock Spidey, an anarchic Black Londoner named Hobie Brown (Daniel Kaluyya) with a Camden-ish accent, widely described as looking like he stepped off a Sex Pistols album cover, though the effect is actually more like a punk zine layout.

All of these exotic Spideys belong to an elite Spider-Society aiming to prevent or clean up interdimensional Spider-Verse anomalies—and while they were no help in the crisis of the last movie, they’re well aware of it. All of this raises questions so huge I hardly know where to begin. Why only anomalies relating to spider-folks? What about other types of anomalies? Miguel is aware of some version of Doctor Strange (and among the many forklift loads of Easter eggs are references to a number of Spidey-related live-action series). Does this mean everything that happened in Into the Spider-Verse was permitted by the MCU’s Time Variance Authority? Were humans on Miles Morales’s Earth created by a Celestial named Arishem?

I know the references are just Easter eggs, but the MCU juggernaut is what it is, and when you plug into it, you get what you get. I don’t want the MCU’s cosmic nihilism bleeding to the Spider-Verse.

Happily, once the story moves past the Spider-Society, human-scaled issues and concerns come to the fore again. However powerful and dangerous Miles’s unexpected nemesis may become, the stakes that matters most to Miles are personal. The Spider-Verse contains quirks and aberrations almost beyond cataloguing (almost all with some basis in the comics, believe it or not), but the variations that matter most are those that hit close to home. This is what I’m here for—this, and whatever happens next.

Like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, this essay ends on a cliffhanger. SDG will return.

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About Steven D. Greydanus 50 Articles
Steven D. Greydanus is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, a permanent deacon in the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, and the founder of DecentFilms.com. He has degrees in media arts and religious studies. He and his wife Suzanne have seven children.


  1. I was very pleased, aside from it being a great entertaining movie, that there is moral complexity (I’m being deliberately vague for readers who haven’t seen the movie). I’m thinking it might lead into some interesting discussions with appropriate age groups?

  2. Not sure how I feel about the film. I enjoyed the tactile look of the first one, but back then, all the multiverse stuff still felt fairly new. Now, it all feels frenetic and overstuffed. Too many characters, too many plot points, too many Easter eggs, and too many Spider-Men. If everybody can be Spider-Man, then does Spider-Man even matter? And the whole “canon events” plot device is a massive drag. Does every universe need to be bound by similar rules? Why bother with a trippy conceit if you can’t color outside the lines? It’s all so lockstep.

    I like the smaller moments between Miles and Gwen. They provide a nice reprieve from all the hectic action sequences and smart-alecky banter. But otherwise, I found myself feeling kind of bored. I guess I’m just not a big fan of ostentatious meta humor. And the action sequences feel really tiresome after a while. I’m not even sure I like the look of the film. The scenes in Gwen’s universe are especially ugly.

    Speaking of which, there’s a trans flag and a “PROTECT TRANS KIDS” poster in Gwen’s bedroom. There’s just no hiding from that sort of propaganda, is there?

    • If everybody can be Spider-Man, then does Spider-Man even matter?

      This was a theme in the first film (“Anyone can wear the mask…you can wear the mask”), and it’s an implicit rebuttal to Syndrome in The Incredibles, who says “When everyone’s super…no one will be.” The Spider-Verse’s answer is that “You’re like me” is empowering. No two people are special in exactly the same way (as an obvious example, only Miles turns invisible and does bioelectric venom blasts), but if two or more people have overlapping gifts, one doesn’t detract from another.

      To the “canon” question you raise: I don’t want to go into details because it could be considered a spoiler—especially before most people have even seen the new movie!—but let’s just say I strongly suspect the third film will shed a very different light on this topic. (One character’s “Nah” is all I need on that score.)

    • I think it’s unfortunate that your final paragraph went without comment. Wonder what subtle messages might be in the plot that would gently pull kids into supporting trans ideology? The kind of outright imagery of the flag and the poster make it hard to believe the film wasn’t pushing that ideology in its totality. And it leads to me ask: why should anybody of faith bother engaging with this movie especially giving it a positive review with the only negative/ambiguous elements of the review do not deal with such messaging?

      • There are plenty of morally reprehensible films I love. That’s not my issue here. But being that this is a Christian website, I wish that the author would address the film’s flirtation with the anti-Christian themes and images I specified. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy the movie while recognizing its ideological contours. (Honestly, were it not for those elements, the film wouldn’t be “problematic” in the slightest.)

    • Darren writes:

      “Speaking of which, there’s a trans flag and a “PROTECT TRANS KIDS” poster in Gwen’s bedroom. There’s just no hiding from that sort of propaganda, is there?”

      Wow! This horrific propaganda within the film is more than enough to avoid supporting this film, but people who support or do not recognize or care about the destructive nature involving the false claims of “transgenderism,” which is a direct assault on God’s creative order, praise the film regardless of this extremely destructive message within it. In reality, nobody is “trans,” and the mutilation of people that includes the extremely evil mutilation of children promoted by the film via the “trans” flag and poster is despicable.

      Imagine for a moment if instead of the “trans” flag and poster, there was a Nazi flag and poster stating “Protect Nazi Youth.” The wokie film critic and others would have been outraged because of the evil of that propaganda that they would point out in order to recommend boycotting the film, but other forms of evil propaganda get a pass by these same people, many of whom actually believe the extremely harmful claims and actions of the “transgender” movement.

      Thanks for pointing out this evil, Darren. I hope that more and more people find out about this and do the morally upright thing by boycotting the film. Even one small message of significant evil, like the proverbial “one bad apple spoils the bunch,” should be considered serious enough to spoil the entire film.

      • “Even one small message of significant evil, like the proverbial ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch,’ should be considered serious enough to spoil the entire film.”

        I disagree. There are plenty of morally reprehensible films I love. That’s not my issue here. But being that this is a Christian website, I wish that the author would address the film’s flirtation with the anti-Christian themes and images I specified. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy the movie while recognizing its ideological contours. (Honestly, were it not for those elements, the film wouldn’t be “problematic” in the slightest.)

        That being said, the trans agenda is demonic. It has no business presenting itself in a children’s film. Then again, the LGBT movement has an unhealthy obsession with appropriating children’s entertainment. It’s almost as though its members are children who enjoy playing pretend. Disgusting phenomenon, regardless.

  3. In children Autism Spectrum is linked to electronic screens. It’s no stretch to take a caution that ADHD is linked as well. A Parkinson’s link should be investigated since we have seen a huge rise in this disease with the coming of age of these screens.

    It’s the physical electronic and radiant stream “scratching” at the brain through the eyes AND the speed of the changing imaging and dashing lighting. The speeds achieved in animated movies are breakneck and quite breath-taking.

    Then IN ADDITION the mental processing not only has to stay abreast it is often thrown about within itself and simultaneously on the screen and in the film story -something like Back To The Future gone berserk where you have to react instantaneously to 1,000 Docs at MACH 50,000 …. all …. the …. time.


    • I hope I didn’t kill off comments for you SDG.

      I should add Alzheimer’s in at the end of the list first paragraph.

      Here in the VISUAL CAPITALIST link, they present in their article “Animation: Using Planets to Visualize the Speed of Light”, Feb. 1 2022, an animated visualization how how slowly light goes, relatively speaking, when it has to cover vast distances in outer space. Very interesting. Our minds can’t take that in so easily either!

      To note, on a separate issue, incidentally, he mentions that were the sun to stop working, we would only find out 8 minutes later, that being the span of time required for light to reach here from the sun. I would conditionally say, instead, that we might in fact know right away, if for instance things were so dependent between the two places that they immediately started collapsing into or repelling one another according to the circumstances arising.

      And speaking of “light” !!!! The picture for your article captures a billboard on the side of the a building which displays a slogan, as I make it:


      – apparently for an energy drink.


    • I think screens may be linked to a host of troubles but children’s attention spans certainly seem affected. And especially with increasingly faster images being flashed before them.
      I recommended a very sweet Disney film from the early 1960’s to my grandchildren and it was too slow paced to keep their attention. It’s a shame. Children become conditioned to faster and faster paced images and louder noises and aren’t conscious of what’s happening to them.

  4. Of late there is more and more serious debate/review/discussion/pondering, yada yada yada,etc. about disney (small d) movies.

    How about this – a few hours of escapist entertainment?

    In the olden days that’s what they were, that’s all they were, that’s all they needed to be, that’s all we needed them to be, including Fantasia. Which of course begs the question – What happened to that? Where is that? Why do we have to analyze even CARTOONS to this extent?

    When Walt Disney died there was a cartoon drawing of all his cartoon characters in tears. Seeing Bambi in tears brought me to tears.

    So I ask again – what ever happened to a few hours of escapist entertainment (with popcorn)?

    • FWIW, Walt Disney absolutely did not intend for Fantasia to be mere “escapist entertainment.” He was trying to create significant, enduring art. His previous effort, the first feature-length work of cel animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, had been called the greatest film ever made by no less than the great Russian director Sergei Eisenstein (revered to this day for his iconic Battleship Potemkin). Disney wanted to top it—to make the greatest film ever made again. He chose music by Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and others with every intention of matching their musical ambition with his animators’ visual invention. He contracted with celebrated music critic Deems Taylor precisely to frame the project within a critically respectable framework. And Disney’s effort ultimately bore fruit: Fantasia is significant, enduring art. There’s a reason Fantasia is one of only 15 films listed in the “Art” category of the 1995 Vatican film list published by the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications. (For more, see my argument on Fantasia as “the Sistine Chapel of Disney animation.”)

      I was about to mention C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism, but I felt a sense of déjà rêvé, and, checking, I see that I did mention it to you in a prior combox discussion. Not to repeat myself, suffice to say: I believe that a) creative endeavors of all sorts, from fine arts to media arts, from composing sonnets to writing comic books, can be done with excellence, and that, as Pope Pius XII put it, “even a somewhat superficial entertainment can rise to high artistic levels, and be classed even as ideal, since man has shallows as well as depths.” I also believe that b) excellence of every kind rewards contemplation and analysis; nothing that is done well is unworthy of sustained and thoughtful attention.

      For anyone who wants “a few hours of escapist entertainment,” Across the Spider-Verse absolutely delivers. It is also a work that “rises to high artistic levels,” worthy not only of the critical attention I’ve given it here, but of more besides.

      • I did not mean to imply that ‘Fantasia’ was just escapist entertainment, although it seems I did just that – my bad. I was raised listening to Classical Music and – 6 or 7 decades later – I still love it. ‘Nessun Durma’ sung by Maestro Luciano Pavarotti, La Neuvieme, the 4th movement of the organ symphony by Saint-Saens – the list goes on and on.

      • Everyone forgets about the night at bald mountain with its clear connection with a witches sabbat and it’s destruction with the church bell toning and the procession of monks together with the lovely rendition of Shubert’s AVE Maria. WE ALWAYS FORGET TO REMEMBER THAT SCENE!!!

      • IIRC, however, it was Fantasia’s failure at the time that did lead Disney to abandon his ‘new high art’ goals that were in his mind with Snow White and Pinocchio. It wasn’t that the critics didn’t like it, but the general public didn’t seem to care for it either. That, if I recall, is what hurt Disney. After that, you see a definite change in tone and purpose behind his productions, with only occasional whiffs of what he wanted with Fantasia and earlier.

        • Correct, Dave G. The initial box-office failure of Fantasia especially was perhaps partly an effect of Disney simply being ahead of his time, although World War II, with its disruption of overseas markets, shortages in everything, and what Roger Ebert called a war-related shortage of whimsical spirit didn’t help. Disney spent most of the 1940s working on the cheap, producing package films like The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and Saludos Amigos. By the time they began making prestige features again, starting with Cinderella in 1950, the spirit of artistic ambition had waned and the desire to make successes made them less adventurous.

          Happily, Disney did live to see Fantasia come to be embraced, first (if I may quote myself)

          in the 1950s by high-minded educators and culture critics for its popularization of classical music (as well as the “science” and “culture” conceits of the Rite of Spring sequence’s primeval history and the Pastoral’s use of Greco-Roman mythology); then embraced by the 1960s counterculture for its dreamlike, nonlinear imagery; and ultimately hailed by virtually all film critics for its undeniably glorious, groundbreaking, visionary animation.

  5. I understand the point about acknowledging people’s hard work and creativity but when there are issues of manipulation and deliberateness as happened in Philip Morris International and the Disney messaging agenda, the work of appreciation has to give way to a more “balanced” criticism and direct naming.

    • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is produced by Sony Pictures Animation. As it is not a Disney film, no “Disney messaging agenda” is in play.

      • Also, it is an extraordinarily rich and rewarding film on the merits; there is no grading on a curve here for how hard the filmmakers have worked. Notable, substantial motifs (n.b. potential oblique spoilers ahoy) include:

        – the importance of relationships between parents and children, including all that children owe to their parents (Miles has a big speech about how much strength he has gained from his parents—and a key plot twist toward the end emphasizes just how formative his father has been in his life, and how disastrously his life might have gone if not for his father’s influence);

        – tensions that can arise between parents and children over contrasting visions of a child’s life (in an early scene Miles’s loving, supportive mother is initially dismayed at the thought that college might take him as far from Brooklyn as New Jersey [!!!], but Miles points out that his parents have encouraged him to believe that he can do great things, and the people who can teach him all he wants to know don’t all live in Brooklyn);

        – parenthood as an integral part of life, from pregnant Spider-Woman to a papa Spider-Man who brings his baby daughter in a sling everywhere he goes; and

        – the dignity of every person and the respect owed to everyone, even people who may seem insignificant or out of place (“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit” — C.S. Lewis)

      • Unfortunately though there is a messaging agenda in the film. There are trans flags in the background in a couple of shots. A protect the Trans Kids poster above Gwens bedroom door & a Trans poster on her fathers police uniform as well.

        I didn’t notice any of these on my first watch as there was so much going on, on screen.

        However having checked online I have seen the images showing them. It’s incredibly unfortunate & outright disgusting that children are being targeted in this way.

        I really enjoyed the film, its a fantastic Spider-Man film. However it has made me question now whether I can rewatch the film at all going forward. I’m a massive Spider-Man fan & think the Spider-Verse films are very good.

        The transgenderism & gender identity propaganda is everywhere though. I don’t know how we can get away from any of it. I don’t know how we can reclaim the culture war, that God doesn’t want kids to mutilate themselves & be acting in sinful ways.

        • J:

          Spider-man was my very first comic book that I ever bought, and I have been a fan ever since, but abusing the character and related storylines to promote the monstrous evil of “transgenderism” that frequently involves bodily mutilation is simply crossing a line that no person of good will should ever support in any way.

          Moving forward regarding similar things that may occur, be sure to find out what’s contained within various films, and then stay away from them if there is indeed some very troubling evil promoted by such films as is done in “Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Also advise others to do the same and explain why. Don’t check the films out on your own without first finding out about the serious evil within it unless you are employed by the Church to warn people about such films and not write favorable reviews of the films. Of course, the “deacon” film critic will not make such warnings because he finds nothing wrong with the malevolent messages that could easily inspire others to engage in the evil of “transgenderism” even if they are not suffering from some disability and they don’t know better.

          Using your word of mouth and pointing out what you did in these comboxes, you can indeed join me and other Catholics of good will in fighting the evil of today, especially as it is being presented by the “woke” movement whose other nom de plume is “legion.”

          Also, do not simply ignore very bad elements within any films to praise good things about them, especially when the very bad elements are extremely harmful as is true of the entire “transgender” anti-God ideology. It’s not just a few objectionable things, but an actual ideology and practice that is extremely sinful as well as being physically dangerous, and so it cannot be brushed off as “no big deal; look at the rest of the film.”


    “WHAT IS A WOMAN?” by and with Matt Walsh.

    To all people of good will: To get an even better understanding of why the spreading cancer of “transgenderism” is extremely sinful and destructive and should never be promoted or simply ignored in any forum, and also why movies like “Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse” should be loudly condemned and boycotted because of the horrendous message in the movie that supports “transgenderism” that often involves castrating and mutilating small children, if you have not already done so, check out Matt Walsh’s superb “What Is A Woman”? that is still on Twitter when last I checked a short time ago.

    After viewing, you might also want to recommend this eye-opening film to other adults, especially those with children who are also targeted by movies like “Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse” to help brainwash them into accepting and supporting this despicable evil.

    “What Is A Woman?” lasts a little over 90 minutes and is hosted by committed Catholic Matt Walsh who also makes some good use of Catholic moral principles, common sense, and humor to help lead the fight against this Satanic evil.

    • Can’t respond to your post below, but I’d just like to note how selective Greydanus is when chastising others for their lack of compassion. When pro-lifers, anti-LGBT activists, and the like mouth off on social media, he doesn’t hesitate to scold them. When people on his side of the aisle (Mark Shea, for instance) mouth off, he assumes good faith. All of this would be easier to tolerate if he weren’t so sanctimonious. But much like David French and Russell Moore, Greydanus extols his own sense of “decency” so aggressively that his moral hypocrisy becomes grating. And this expectation that people be well-behaved when opposing the ritual dismemberment of children (be it in the form of abortion or “gender reassignment surgery”) is absurd. We certainly didn’t see these pleas for decency when the BLM rioters were torching the country back in 2020. But since the rioters shared Greydanus’ ideological priors, they didn’t arouse his condemnation, which is reserved exclusively for non-leftists.

      • You bring up a good point about the hyper-divided nature of our modern discourse. Part of the problem is, for the sake of ‘our side’, we’ll let slide what we’ll so easily condemn from the ‘other side’. Even when it is as bad (or even worse). In fairness to Mark Shea, he is hardly alone regarding that level of discourse spilling over form the left of center. There are plenty of Catholics who tack to the left who make Matt Walsh look like Mr. Rogers. To not call them out while calling out someone like Matt Walsh is as good as saying it isn’t the approach to discourse that is the problem. Which then cuts into the credibility factor, where conformity trumps consistency every time. And that goes for the idea that somehow it comes down to how one stands on criticizing Pope Francis or not. In my Protestant days, the harshest critics of then Pope John Paul II I came into contact with were usually the progressive and left leaning Catholics I knew. It came as quite a shock, therefore, to suddenly hear in 2013 that you are the worst type of Catholic in the world if you called out a current pope. But again, in an age of punditry over principles, that sort of inconsistency is far too common.

        For the record, I’m not a fan of Matt Walsh, for the same reason I stopped being a fan of Mark Shea and company.

  7. Just got back from watching the film with my wife and 3 daughters. We all enjoyed it.In my opinion, this is the clear frontrunner for the oscar for best animated feature. I don’t know if the rules allow it, but it was good enough to deserve consideration for Best Picture (I thought “Into the Spiderverse” did as well). I know the Academy tends to hold off on giving major category oscars for the first parts of planned to be movie series, but I think this may be good enough to force them to concider breaking that custom.
    I do have concerns that the quality and momentum can be kept up for the 3rd film, but given how good the first 2 movies have been, the trends are in its favor.
    How they are able to walk that fine line of balancing the absurd and silly comedy with a serious storyline amazes me.

    And the animation! especially the scene where Gwen returns home – I immediately picked up on the subtle bleeding of the colors, I was worried it was because they were going to have it become Gwen’s world falling apart around her as she fails to reconcile with her father. But to have it instead become just a bleeding out of the dark blues and purples as she reconciles with her father and her home becomes a bright beacon for her – let’s just say watching that scene with my own 3 daughters is going to stay with me for a long time.
    Honestly, my only complaint is a minor one – the song Miles listens to right before Gwen appears. To me, it felt a little like they forced that into the scene in the hopes that it would become a comparable hit to “Sunflower” in the first movie. It just hit me kind of meh. At least it wasn’t as bad as Disney trying to follow up “Let it Go” with “Into the Unknown.”

  8. Matt Walsh is only great to listen to of you’re an extremist. Something Steven is thankfully showing he clearly isn’t. A guy like doc can’t even begin to imagine the sort of hatred and bullying and abuse some trans kids must endure. And you know, maybe that’s all this Easter egg, that 95 percent of people won’t see while watching the movie because it goes by so fast, is really about. Boycotting this movie will get you no where. You can’t protect kids from ideas and concepts unless you live like the Amish and they stay that way for life. If transgenderism scares you that much, talking to your kids is all you can ultimately do.

    • Yes, Matt Walsh is indeed troubling.

      See this quote:

      “Gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations. … Why is it dangerous? Because it blurs differences and the value of men and women. … All humanity is the tension of differences. It is to grow through the tension of differences. The question of gender is diluting the differences and making the world the same, all dull, all alike, and that is contrary to the human vocation. … Today children — children — are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the people and institutions that give you money. These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this is terrible!”

      Wait, never mind. That was Pope Francis.

    • Very sad, Tom.

      Try looking just a bit more deeply at this in a way that the Church looks at many issues via a question and answer format along the following lines:

      Question: Does the movie “Spider-man: Across the Spider Verse” contain scenes and messages within the movie that promote outright sinful behavior that often involves the wrongful mutilation of the body?

      Answer: Yes. “Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse” promotes the malevolent ideology of “transgenderism,” and it even makes a point of promoting this evil for children by use of a message to “support trans kids.” Practices of “transgenderism” often include the wrongful mutilation of a person’s body.

      Question: What is the Church’s teaching on wrongful mutilation of the body?

      Answer: As the body is a gift from God, nobody has absolute dominion over their own bodies except God. “Except when performed for strictly therapeutic reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.” (CCC 2297)

      It should be quickly added that therapeutic reasons do NOT include such actions because of any psychological or mental or confused states of mind. They pertain to correcting physical maladies based on bodily function.

      Questions: Do Catholics have an obligation to point out and condemn evil messages found in films that can harm many people, or can they rationalize that there are other good aspects of the films, and so they don’t need to even speak up against the evil within the films? Even more, is it morally sound to promote such films despite the objective evil found within them?

      Answers: Catholic morality has never wavered from the following principle: We must never do evil in an effort to bring about good. Concomitantly, we must never promote evil even if some good may come out of it. Accordingly, even if a film contains a good message (largely debatable quite often) for some 97% of the film, but 3% is flat out sinful, the entire film should not be promoted in any way. This would be like going to a speech by Mr. Hitler wherein 97% of the speech spoke about building roads and improving the countryside, and only 3% involved the evil of harming others, and so the 3% is ignored to promote the other 97%…even though the 3% will be much more destructive than the potential good of the other 97%.

      Any person who professes the Catholic Faith should never support and/or promote any film that contains extremely evil messages like the hideously evil message of “transgenderism” that is promoted by “Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse.” This constitutes sinful cooperation with the sin of others because anyone who supports and promotes such films encourages people to view the films that contain the obvious evil within it, and is thereby also directly encouraging others to sin by providing support for the film and its sinful message even if they don’t approve of the sinful message within it.

      One last thing in support of Objective truth and morality. Since “transgenderism” is often imposed on kids before they have the mental capacity to even consider making such a life-altering decision, and this imposition involves mutilating their bodies, imagine the reaction of people if the poster in the film read truthfully as follows:

      ‘Support Mutilating Minor Children to Make Them “Trans” Kids’

  9. Disappointed but not surprised to see Greydanus shrugging off the film’s pro-trans controversy. Recently, he took to Twitter to call Ron DeSantis cruel for sending illegal immigrants to California. If DeSantis ends up being the Republican nominee, I have little doubt that he’ll be urging his fellow Catholics to vote for Biden (again), as though abortion, transgenderism, and nuclear war are holier than immigration restrictionism.

  10. The gender identity cult has directly and indirectly harmed people whom I love very much. This lead me to be in the trenches of this cultural battle well before Matt Walsh* was even that well known in conservative circles.
    I still took my family to see this movie. I still recommend this movie to my friends and family. To boycott this film for its pro-trans background images (which I actually missed while I was watching the film) is the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. Do I wish they hadn’t put those images in the movie? Of course. But this is different than pornographic images in public school libraries where one image is in fact enough to ruin the entire book because the harm done is certain and immediate to a young reader. There is no immediate and certain harm in a kid seeing the images in this movie. If this is enough to influence your child, I’d be far more worried about teaching your child to be more aware of what influences them and how to resist that influence.
    If promoting one sin is enough to disqualify an entire work then shelves for theology books would be nearly empty as many theologians do great work in one area while promoting heresy in other areas. The Office of Readings would be gutted as everything by Origen and Tertullian (and likely others) would need to be removed.
    But that won’t happen because the Church recognizes that we have the use of reason and intelligence to consume this material and hold fast to the good parts while dismissing the bad parts.
    As SDG has pointed out, there are a lot of good things in this movie. With the exception of those ever so briefly show pro-trans images I consider this film an excellent work of art. If I was a college film or art professor I would use this film and it’s predecessor in my classes as much as they are applicable to the course content.
    *A note about Matt Walsh. I recently commented on a friend’s Facebook post that Matt Walsh is someone who, when I agree with him (which happens far more often than not), I wish we didn’t. He is intentionally abrasive and rude when he doesn’t have to be in order to get more clicks and views. He often over corrects for the errors of the left and is unwillng to work with those who disagree with him in any significant way.
    I am thankful for the light he has shined on this issue, but the savior complex he is developing over it is appalling. He refuses to acknowledge the hard work people did before he came along. There are many allies on the left we’ve formed relationships with to fight gender ideology that he is rude and dismissive towards. If we are going to defeat the gender identity behemoth, we need to be working with those on the political left that also oppose it. If you are thinking “but no one on the left really opposes it” then that shows how new you are to this issue and how little you actually know about it.
    If I was a skilled cartoonist (maybe SDG could create this) I would make an image of a ravine with a group of people on the right side of the ravine labeled “Republicans/Conservative” and a group of people on the left side labeled “TERFs and culturally moderate Democrats” and a bridge over the ravine labeled “common cause to defeat the gender identity movement” and a super giant person labeled “Matt Walsh and his ego” crashing through the bridge.
    I live in Loudoun County, VA. I moved here in 2016 and started speaking out at school board mtgs in 2019. I wish Matt Walsh had never stepped foot in this county let alone spoke at one of our school board meetings (as he shows in his video “What is a Woman?”). One of the reasons we’ve had such difficulty getting anything changed for the better in our school system is because the radicals on the school board and their allies have a strong narrative in the public mind that the issues we bring up are just over-reactions stirred up by right-wing talking points and that this was due to influences from outside the county and very few county residents had any actual concerns…. and Matt Walsh showing up and speaking reinforced that narrative in the minds of the independents and democrats who aren’t completely on board with gender ideology. This is making it a lot more difficult to sway those voters to our school board candidates and we need those votes to have any chance of getting a sane majority elected to our school board this November.

    • A lot of wisdom here, James M, in my opinion. I am with Pope Francis in regarding what he and other Church leaders call gender ideology as a profound distortion of anthropology that harms human beings. But I do not regard Matt Walsh as an ally in that regard (and I don’t believe Pope Francis would either), because Walsh’s abrasive approach poisons the well and drives people to the other side. From ridiculing pro-life feminists (a term he compares to “abolitionist slave trader,” though in fact pro-life feminists absolutely do exist and have from the beginning of feminism) to joining in the rightwing pile-on on Simone Biles for knowing when to step back from competition, from denying that depression and anxiety are mental health issues to trollish, weirdly fetishistic pronouncements on Real Masculinity (emojis are for women and children—not men; you can never be fully manly on ice skates; a woman wanting to keep her last name is a dealbreaker), Walsh is the kind of dude normal people edge away from at parties, and that does us no favors.

      • “Walsh is the kind of dude normal people edge away from at parties, and that does us no favors.”

        Aren’t you friends with Mark Shea?

        Regardless of my many disagreements with Walsh on any number of issues (ranging from his support for the death penalty to his terrible taste in movies), I’m glad he’s speaking out on this front.

        • Juan, I appreciate someone who can acknowledge any kind of complexity in life, as your last sentence does here.

          I agree that we need people speaking out on this issue. I think some people are helping, like Abigail Favale. I don’t think Walsh is helping. On the contrary.

        • I didn’t watch Matt Walsh’s film until yesterday c/o Twitter-which I also don’t follow.
          I came away feeling quite sorry for some of the folks interviewed. I do appreciate the film’s attempt to get at the truth-that’s critical. But there are ways to accomplish that without causing hearts to harden.

          • mrscracker:

            Throughout “What is a Woman?”, Matt Walsh acts like a gentleman, he stays calm, respectful, and yet he is the one frequently under attack by various parties.

            How could you possibly come away from watching the film by claiming its attempt at getting at the truth was a critical thing, but then add that “there are ways to accomplish that without causing hearts to harden”? Although you have recently claimed to be more to the right of things, this is yet another example of making a comment that aligns more with the wimpie woke left.

            By the bye, hearts should always be hardened in fully embracing and defending objective truth, which is what Matt Walsh is all about. Where did Matt Walsh act unkindly, rudely, or unjustly in any part of his film that would lead one to conclude that he was simply hardening hearts by doing what he did?

            Also, please do not wrongly judge Matt Walsh the way that the film critic has done in these comboxes by purposely and unjustly mischaracterizing what Walsh has written and said about a variety of things. Anyone who actually reads what Walsh has written about things like feminism, Simone Biles, and other things quickly discovers that pejorative statements directed at him by the film critic are flat out lies. Please note the following that expose the lies set forth by the film critic:

            1. Walsh challenges the philosophical basis for feminism and, as many sound Catholic theologians, including the great St. Pope John Paul II, have pointed out, there are serious and dangerous flaws with many aspects of feminism. To the film critic who admittedly lacks the kind of depth needed to better understand such things from a philosophical perspective, he wrongly calls this mocking pro-life feminists, but it is not even close to what Walsh does.

            2. The film critic also claims that Walsh has wrongly attacked Simone Biles, and he even lies further by declaring Walsh denies that anxiety and depression are mental health issues. Walsh has never denied this, but the film critic makes the false charges anyway. The following excerpt is what Walsh actually wrote about Simone Biles. Note how significantly different this is than in how the film critic purposely mischaracterizes it:

            From a Matt Walsh article:

            “On one hand, there is nothing terribly surprising about the reasons she gives for quitting. People quit things all the time, and they almost always do it because the thing they are quitting is too difficult and not very fun. This is the universal rationale of all quitters everywhere, for all time. In this case, there is no doubt that the difficult thing was very difficult indeed. The pressure she experiences as a world famous athlete on a global stage must be quite burdensome on both an emotional and physical level. This is what makes quitting understandable. But the one thing that it cannot be is admirable.

            If Simone Biles had bailed on her team and apologized after the fact, and the public had reacted appropriately to the news, then there wouldn’t be much else to say on the matter. It is hard to compete in the Olympics. It is hard to live up to high expectations. Lots of people quit when things are hard. We all have, at one time or another. That is why, when someone quits, we normally shake our heads and say, “That’s a shame,” and then we move on with our lives. Nobody is suggesting that athletes who quit ought to be tarred and feathered in the street. It is enough to be disappointed and be done with it.

            The problem is that now we are exhorted not simply to understand why someone quits, but to actively applaud them for doing so. What makes the Simone Biles story troubling is not that the women’s gymnastic team had to settle for a silver medal, but that our cultural powers that be want us to celebrate cowardice. As always, it is not enough to merely tolerate another person’s decision or to be compassionate towards their struggles. We are meant, now, to rise to our feet and joyously cheer what all people throughout history, and most people living in the world today, would consider shameful and unfortunate. It is one thing to say: ‘Simone Biles quit, but let’s have some empathy.’ It is quite another to say: ‘Simone Biles quit. Isn’t that so brave?’

            No, no it is not brave. It may be human, it may be relatable, but it is the opposite of brave. To be brave is to refuse to quit precisely when most people would.” (Walsh. DailyWire.com)

            People of good will see the larger points that Walsh is making, and they also recognize that he did not do what the film critic has charged him with doing so he can falsely caricature Walsh as an unfeeling monster.

            Next, the film critic has claimed that Walsh is not a good ally in the fight against “transgenderism” even though the film critic can ONLY muster a modest agreement with what Pope Francis has written about the evil of the “transgender” movement. But honest people of good will who know what Matt Walsh has done over the past few years recognize that not only is he an ally; he is also a brave leader willing to put himself on the line in opposition to all things “transgender” while the film critic praises and supports a film that promotes the evil of “transgenderism” in a few scenes that the film critic doesn’t even have the courage to point out how evil such things are.

            Lastly, note the following from the film critic himself in these comboxes that reveals more about him than it does about Matt Walsh:

            “I prefer the approach of St. Francis de Sales. (“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength. It is wonderful how attractive a gentle, pleasant manner is, and how much it wins hearts.”) I don’t always live up to that, far from it, but I make it my goal, I try to orient myself to it every day, and I try to repent when I find Matt Walsh–like tendencies in myself.”

            The hypocrisy and calumny on proud display is stunningly enormous, first claiming that he tries to follow the guidance of St. Francis de Sales, but then immediately follows up with an extremely mean-spirited attack on Matt Walsh that is made much worse by the fact that it is based on his lies about Matt Walsh that he has created about him.

          • “To be brave is to refuse to quit precisely when most people would.”

            Not so. Rather, to be brave is to do what you know is right in the teeth of difficulty. More technically, from Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, the cardinal virtue of fortitude can be defines as “steadiness of will in doing good in spite of difficulties faced in the performance of one’s duty.”

            As Fr. Hardon notes, fortitude has two operations, not one:

            The control of fear is the main role of fortitude. Hence the primary effect of fortitude is to keep unreasonable fears under control and not allow them to prevent one from doing what one’s mind says should be done. But fortitude or courage also moderates rashness, which tends to lead the headstrong to excess in the face of difficulties and dangers.

            Very often it can be the duty of an athlete (or a soldier, etc.) to press on in spite of fears or concerns; in those cases, I will make Walsh’s words my own: “to be brave is to refuse to quit.” But there are also times when it can be the same person’s duty to recognize that the good one wishes to serve (in this case, the good of the team as well as one’s own good) require stepping back. Knowing which of the two is the case is a matter of another virtue, the virtue of prudence.

            When prudence counsels stepping back, then “refusing to quit” is not brave, but what Fr. Hardon rightly calls “rashness.” Here fortitude specifically moderates the excessive desire to “refuse to quit” when pressing forward is not commended by prudence.

            Biles has shown her courage in pressing on innumerable occasions. No one rises to the very peaks of athletic achievement without fortitude. On this occasion, she showed her courage by moderating her ambition and desire to compete and refusing to act rashly—and she did so, I might add, knowing that countless people who had never met her, and whose achievements aren’t a drop in the bucket to hers, would second-guess and criticize her, calliing it “quitting” and “the opposite of brave” (as helpfully and accurately quoted above by my hostile interlocutor; thanks for that). Which only makes her action braver, more courageous.

      • Too much is made of “the abrasive approach” these days I think. It’s like going to the coney island and winning 100 teddy bears by taking the easiest pot shots until all the targets are exhausted. No fun in that. And in a sense the spidey-verse reels are indirectly an attempt to look down on the abrasive and come out on top -a kind of cowardice. There are other challenges around than merely the abrasive. Is it not true that some of the most manipulative can be anything but abrasive? So if you call it out by being abrasive and it gets uncovered, saying, then, “You’re too abrasive” to that “abrasive” individual could amount to pampering the manipulator.

        • Elias, I agree that being a jerk is one way to have experiences that can be considered “fun.” Walsh’s sweeping condemnations of anything he considers effeminate or juvenile, from ice skates and emojis to American cheese and happy tears over an election outcome, can be entertaining, if you like that sort of thing. Condemning all women who want to keep their last names, and by extension all men who marry such women, at least gets points for audacity. Putting down Simone Biles for having an off day and knowing she was off, I got nothing for that one. Ditto ridiculing pro-life feminism. Sometimes people are just jerks and I don’t know how to see it any other way.

          I prefer the approach of St. Francis de Sales. (“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength. It is wonderful how attractive a gentle, pleasant manner is, and how much it wins hearts.”) I don’t always live up to that, far from it, but I make it my goal, I try to orient myself to it every day, and I try to repent when I find Matt Walsh–like tendencies in myself.

          • I know where it happens that even when it is said nicely some people will take it as insulting and abrasive!

            My note captures much more than “being the jerk”. There are many situations when brusque or rough fits well and I have seen it where a strong word has helped the person getting it snap out of a bad way. A third party looking on or another person getting the rebuke who reject it, would obviously report it differently. People keep bringing saints as witness to “never be gruff” but it is not so with the saints and when they are invoked for that it is both misappropriated and misleading.

            There is some needed discretion in all this, that’s true as well. Escriva acknowledges you catch flies with honey and a barrel of vinegar will do nothing for it. He also says you need to form purified pools not stay immersed in stinking waters.

            Now what is going on in the spidey-verse does not add up to Christian values and is a defacement of human virtue. Fault-finding Walsh or admitting that his style rubs you or makes your blood crawl, can’t recalibrate that!

          • Now what is going on in the spidey-verse does not add up to Christian values and is a defacement of human virtue

            The glimpse of the “Protect Trans Kids” poster is apparently so brief and so subtle that I didn’t see it before writing my review. (I will be going to see it a second time and will try to watch for it.)

            I disagree with the anthropology behind that message. I regard that anthropology as harmful. Had I spotted the poster on my first viewing, I would definitely have noted it in my review. However, it would not have fundamentally changed my review, and I will write more about this in the future.

            As a point of comparison, to my review of Lord & Miller’s last cartoon, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, I wrote the following P.S.:

            P.S. In a film in which so much happens very quickly and so much will go over the heads of many viewers, even attentive adults may miss the implication in an early mid-credits coda of a breathless string of questions from Linda for Katie that reveals another layer of Katie’s differentness: She has a romantic interest whose preferred pronoun appears to be “her.” (Sharp-eyed viewers may also note that Katie wears a rainbow pin.) The line is intended, of course, for those who will consider the film’s themes of acceptance and inclusion enhanced by it. Others will reject the whole film over this one line. For what it’s worth, I’m not in either camp. The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a good family film, all things considered.

            I understand the impulse to say that any barest hint of a message we disagree with in this area invalidates the entire project. There are Christians calling right now for a boycott of The Chosen because a crew member’s Pride flag was spotted on set—not on the show, just on the set—and showrunner Dallas Jenkins allows this and doesn’t denounce it.

            I’m not going to tell anyone not to boycott The Chosen, but it’s not the way I operate. I’m not here to tell anyone what to watch or not to watch; I’m here to offer facts, context, analysis, and what I think is a responsible, well-informed perspective, which I hope will be useful to readers in making up their own minds what to watch or not to watch.

          • SDG you are very economic in your replies and I appreciate your time to my many inputs.

            I suggest not to be so neutral, it presumes that the only one legitimate audience is the one who wants that extreme of neutrality with the insights positioned that way.

            I am not reacting to “one line” or “one poster”. I haven’t seen the film but reading the separate viewpoints here and elsewhere, what comes through is that the whole composition is unsupportable from more than one angle.

            For all I know this Spider-verse sequel might be a take on “The One who has The Quest” to muster all his comrades into “The Great Feel Good Moment and Group Hug”. Whatever the preferred interpretation, there is an exploitation of unformed adolescent feelings taking them in all the directions made to fit. It could never be good. It’s not the first movie to do such and this too is a recurring pattern.

            I would venture to investigate where it is anti-Christ.

            Speaking of exploitation, the Spiderman character is thus now made into an icon and guide for traversing the “different-ist landscapes” and “different-ist themes” and for defending the “authentic comfort” due to them, found in them and shared with them.

            ‘ When you’re in a slump it’s almost as if you look out at the field and it’s one big glove. ‘

            – Vance Law

          • Thanks, Elias. To be clear: I’m very far from neutral! I’m not here to tell anyone what to do or not to do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a point of view, and a strongly felt one. When I talk about offering “what I think is a responsible, well-informed perspective,” that perspective in this case (as I believe comes through loud and clear in this essay) is: Across the Spider-Verse is an incredible achievement and a brilliant movie full of themes and ideas and creative decisions that I find beautiful and and powerful and that I am enthusiastic about—as a cinephile, as a Catholic, as a parent, as a human being.

            It is also true, I now realize, that, among the many things I know or presume the filmmakers and I disagree about, so far as I can see, one important topic of disagreement affects just a few seconds of film in a very subtle way. That’s worth noting, but I do not agree with the view of those who say that something like this poisons an entire movie. I like your Vance Law quote very much for how it sums up how some Catholics today feel, but not how I feel.

            Regarding “different-ist landscapes” and “different-ist themes”: It’s important to not to lose sight of the fact that differences come in, well, many different forms! For example, some people are neurodivergent or autistic—a reality that, as a father who knows something about this topic, I saw reflected in a winning way in The Mitchells vs. the Machines. In my review of Pixar’s Luca I pointed out how the premise of sea monsters going among us anonymously out of fear of hatred and persecution if their true nature were known, and ultimately being accepted by open-minded people, can obviously be given a gay-friendly symbolic reading—but by the same token the fact that this “difference” applies to Luca’s whole family (his parents, grandmother, all his ancestors) invites applications to nationality, ethnicity, culture, even religion. Likewise, Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies have always used mutation as a metaphor for all kinds of stigmas, with occasional winking lines inviting a gay interpretation—but when X-Men: Days of Future Past proposes that President Kennedy was a mutant, the obvious reference in his case is to his Catholicism.

            As a boy, I was different from my peers: I was bookish, quiet, and creative, inventing stories and drawing pictures whenever I wasn’t reading. My differences led me to identify with Peter Parker, who was also bookish and, like me, was often bullied, but who became things I wanted to be: brave, selfless, confident, making the most of his unique abilities. He used his powers for good. I try to do the same. I am not suspicious of movies celebrating differences!

          • I think the metaphor thing is not merely about stigmatization, anymore; if even to start with that’s all it was. As we see more is being worked into it. Recognizing what’s really happening is not being suspicious.

            I was using Vance Law’s admission of a condition with his appended impulse, because it affects everyone Catholic or not and religious or not. And I do not see it as necessarily wholesome in itself or well-considered.

            Many themes are omitted and other themes are irregular or wrongly arranged; and these are huge red flags for anyone. One being, a need for detachment.

          • Metaphors are polyvalent. There are exceptions: figures that essentially everyone who understands the text can agree means one and only one thing; such figures can be called allegorical (e.g., the killing of Aslan on the Stone Table = the Crucifixion of Jesus). Most metaphors aren’t allegorical; they don’t have one and only one correct and necessary meaning. In fact, most metaphors don’t even present themselves as metaphors. A person could watch the scene in the 2018 Into the Spider-Verse in which Miles’s father tries to talk to Miles, not knowing that he’s webbed up on the other side of the dorm room door, a dozen times and never consciously think “The door is a metaphor for the barriers that can come between family members, especially parents and children.” The door doesn’t have to be a metaphor at all—and, if it is, it can mean other things too. For example, a crisis, or a necessary degree of distance, allowing a breakthrough in communication.

            Metaphors communicate different things to different people. It can mean one thing to the writer or storyteller, something else to me, and a third thing to you, and none of us is necessarily wrong. (Contrary to naive theories about narrative and meaning, the meaning of a story is not sovereignly determined by the storyteller; in fact, storytellers can be wrong about their own stories.)

            BTW, have you seen the movie?

          • Haven’t seen the movie, my note above JUNE 5, 2023 AT 4:21 AM. I will not go see it for more than one reason and more than 2 reasons etc., nothing to do with this particular movie or your review. But I suspect I would find the movie over-communicative. Reading the reviews is easier to handle and allows me to keep a guard on my intellect; and I follow reviews whether I see a particular movie or not. Often, when I do not go see a movie, some years will pass and then there is a showing on TV when I would see parts of it from time to time not all at once. I did this for example with Lord of the Ring Trilogy. It saves me a lot of time and I can stand back from it and avoid getting fixated -or glaciated? From the Spider-verse reviews yours included, what is going to happen is, if I do get to watch the movie I will be doing it for critical purposes so that I can better challenge it in discussions later.

            From here the Spider-verse features look very cluttered. When artistry demands too much from the spectator, the work lacks the integrity of art.

          • When artistry demands too much from the spectator, the work lacks the integrity of art.

            We disagree. One might say that a work of art must not demand more from its intended audience than the intended audience is prepared to offer; beyond that, though, no one can put limits on what the artist can or can’t demand. Aesthetically speaking, the artist has the right to demand whatever they want, if they’re prepared to limit the work’s scope to those willing to accept the challenge. Such a demand may or may not limit the scope of a work’s appeal to a narrower audience, but there is no absolute aesthetic law by which this can be declared some kind of failing.

            When Stravinsky premiered The Rite of Spring in May 1913, it caused an uproar. It contradicted audience expectations at every turn: a cacophony of deliberately harsh, ear-piercing sonic effects; overlapping rhythms at different speeds; dissonant combinations of notes—not to mention the bizarre poses and strange movements of the dancers. The audience booed and hooted its displeasure; the response was so rowdy that it was later called a “riot.” Stravinsky demanded more from the audience of this work than the audience that night was prepared to offer—but audiences quickly adjusted. It turns out Stravinsky was not wrong to demand a lot from spectators.

            A movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey demands a lot more from audiences than, say, Star Wars (as I wrote in my recent piece, 2001 is “off-putting to many in its glacial pacing and emotional iciness, 2001’s cosmic scope, elliptical narrative, and visionary imagery”), and it’s certainly not for everyone. But there’s a reason 2001 is honored on the 1995 Vatican film list, along with other demanding fare like Andrei Tarkowsky’s Andrei Rublev and The Sacrifice and Kieslowski’s Dekalog, among others.

            Hollywood churns out plenty of movies that demand little or nothing from audiences. Across the Spider-Verse is not one of them—it is an insanely rich text that I’m sure will reward the many viewings I intend to give it—but, judging from its rapturous reception by mainstream audiences both in the US and abroad and by critics everywhere, there’s little evidence of much feeling that it demands “too much.” (Some viewers, no doubt, will find that it’s not for them. My mother and I love a lot of the same movies, but she does not love Spider-Man, or animation generally, and she would doubtless find this film overwhelming and unrewarding. Which is fine! Not everything is for everyone.)

            If you will pardon me for saying so, you appear determined to find fault with a work you acknowledge you haven’t seen, for reasons I have no intention of attempting to diagnose. Those who want to find fault never have any trouble coming up with reasons. I’m sure when you see the film, you will find what you want.

          • SDG your last post provides me material I would use against you -argumentatively, that is. I no longer would have to impute them.

            Forewarned and forearmed, this is for everyone and for myself. We have the latest tech to brief us ahead of viewing and it is entirely reasonable to draw certain plot points when they have become apparent. They will serve as a stabilizing force. I believe my comments are /have been fair, all of them; and without having to compare myself to Bach or come off symphonic. I look forward to attacking the anti-Christ aspects as God will allow it.

      • To be honest, as I read your list, I have no clue how people like Walsh or others approach these issues. Though each of these are issues that can – and IMHO, should – be addressed. For instance, not a few I’ve heard think feminism itself is a problem, and ‘pro-life feminists’ are addressing only part of the problem. Likewise, many believe the Biles kerfuffle was problematic because it continued advocating approaches to life that are doing nothing other than helping our country become a 2.5th world nation. Likewise, as a former supporter of the mental health industry in my ministry days, I honestly can say I believe the whole mental health train has seriously jumped the tracks (who’s to say there are two genders, but we’re sure you may need help and therapy to get through the horrors of ‘Cicada Stress Syndrome’!). And sometimes, I see things like ‘men don’t ice skate’ said in the same manner as ‘white men can’t jump.’ It’s supposed to be humorous, while opening up discussion about a broader point. After all, in an age where the idea of ‘toxic masculinity’ is as common as John 3:16 in a Baptist tent revival, it is crickets when we consider the same idea applied to birthers who identify as women. Again, I can’t say how someone like Walsh approaches these issues. Perhaps in the wrong way. But they are topics that people can approach differently in good faith, and not be lumped into ‘them right wingers types’ simply for questioning the officially sanctioned narratives of each.

  11. Mr. Doc,
    I don’t know how to reply to a reply and this article wasn’t about Matt Walsh but wanting to change hearts to embrace the truth isn’t left wing or right wing.

  12. In respect of the so-called 2SLGBTQIA+ upsurge, there is a slow seducing going on and CWR should be ahead of it. At the same time, there now is an in-your-face campaign occurring, making as if it all “must be okay” and all “must end up okay”; where apparently the only real worry is “what is coming as a result of the opposition”. AND those spearheading it are placing themselves as foundational sources of truth about right and wrong, even co-opting what is socially accepted like comic fiction and relational norms, to their service. Brazen and subtle.

    CWR and its contributors need to get a batter handle. It doesn’t pass to say “I didn’t realize” and be positioning yourself behind the curve with the likes of Spiderman in lead “for art’s sake”.

    ‘ Biden: State transgender laws ‘hysterical’ and ‘prejudiced’

    Biden mentioned national debates on LGBT issues and discussed his administration’s latest actions at a June 8 press conference with visiting U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

    Biden attributed state legislation to “some hysterical and, I would argue, prejudiced people who are engaged in all of what you see going on around the country.” The president lamented what he said is a rising trend of “violence and hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people.”

    “It’s wrong that extreme officials are pushing hateful bills targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors,” Biden said. ‘




  13. I posted 2 further comments today, 4:08 AM and 5:46 AM, that so far are not showing; I hope you publish them CWR. They’re quite good and they carry the day for you and I would thank you.

  14. Internet connection gave trouble all day, slow loading, drop connection, not sending, page not responding, etc. Likely there are more than 2 or even 3 servers between here and there too, so it’s possible longer comments don’t make it through to destination when service and signal are so poor. I would like to put my 2 earlier posts now and am assuming that they had not been blocked by our Editor.

    My first today, A, was at 4:08 AM replying to SDG of yesterday June 12, 1:14 PM. My second, B, was at 5:46 AM.

    I had read SDG last night and decided to forego further argument; however, I had a dream this morning just before I rose. In it SDG was boiling angry with what I have been writing, kaleidescoping into all kinds of colours and springing barbs. So I prayed for him in morning prayer and committed to make a response that would allay feelings round about, whatever they might be.

    * * * * * * * * * *


    Elias Galy
    JUNE 13, 2023 AT 4:08 AM

    SDG your last post provides me material I would use against you -argumentatively, that is. I no longer would have to impute them.

    Forewarned and forearmed, this is for everyone and for myself. We have the latest tech to brief us ahead of viewing and it is entirely reasonable to draw certain plot points when they have become apparent. They will serve as a stabilizing force. I believe my comments are /have been fair, all of them; and without having to compare myself to Bach or come off symphonic. I look forward to attacking the anti-Christ aspects as God will allow it.

    * * * * * * * * * *


    Elias Galy
    JUNE 13, 2023 AT 5:46 AM

    In respect of the so-called 2SLGBTQIA+ upsurge, there is a slow seducing going on and CWR should be ahead of it. At the same time, there now is an in-your-face campaign occurring, making as if it all “must be okay” and all “must end up okay”; where apparently the only real worry is “what is coming as a result of the opposition”. AND those spearheading it are placing themselves as foundational sources of truth about right and wrong, even co-opting what is socially accepted like comic fiction and relational norms, to their service. Brazen and subtle.

    CWR and its contributors need to get a batter handle. It doesn’t pass to say “I didn’t realize” and be positioning yourself behind the curve with the likes of Spiderman in lead “for art’s sake”.

    ‘ Biden: State transgender laws ‘hysterical’ and ‘prejudiced’

    Biden mentioned national debates on LGBT issues and discussed his administration’s latest actions at a June 8 press conference with visiting U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

    Biden attributed state legislation to “some hysterical and, I would argue, prejudiced people who are engaged in all of what you see going on around the country.” The president lamented what he said is a rising trend of “violence and hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people.”

    “It’s wrong that extreme officials are pushing hateful bills targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors,” Biden said. ‘




    • I had a dream this morning just before I rose. In it SDG was boiling angry with what I have been writing, kaleidescoping into all kinds of colours and springing barbs. So I prayed for him in morning prayer and committed to make a response that would allay feelings round about, whatever they might be.

      a) I am very grateful for your prayers, friend and I promise to remember you in my Morning Prayer tomorrow!

      b) I trust, in charity, that you will be gratified to learn that, were a gun pointed at my head—or at the head of my children—and I ordered to tell the truth on penalty of death, I would, without hesitation, calmly and confidently attest that the dream you describe is so utterly bereft of and contrary to the truth that, were I forced to ascribe such a dream either to the Holy Spirit or the Evil One, I would not hesitate to lay the blame at the Devil’s feet—which, as Thomas More said in A Man for All Seasons, “I would not say, were it otherwise, for anything on earth!”

      More mundanely, friend, I can assure you (which, again, I trust in charity you will be glad to hear) that nothing whatsoever you have written (in this combox; my memory will not serve for whatever discussions we may have had in other comboxes, as I am no keeper of scores and, for that matter, I tend to be hazy with names) has caused me as much as a single extra heartbeat in a minute, raised my temperature by a tenth of a degree, or caused even a millimeter of a furrow in my brow. Whatever colors I may give off (I must admit, particularly in the context of this movie, a certain attraction to the idea of me giving off kaleidoscopic colors!), I hope and trust are to God’s glory, and not otherwise. Not only do I will you nothing but good, the willing is without difficulty or even effort, for I am at this moment conscious of no grievance against you of any kind, and I feel no slightest temptation to do otherwise than I do! Grace and peace to you and yours, and to all who bear the humanity assumed in our Lord’s incarnation and redeemed by our Lord’s Paschal Mystery.

  15. I was successful not killing off comments for you SDG. All the same there is a preponderance of questioning and disaffection from so many other quarters. Justified!

    In any event, like our discussion over Creed III and the Rocky franchise, contrary views have to be upheld. Where it is different here is that the morality itself is undergoing transformation. Fantastic.

    At least they had the decency in the Creed movies to change the title “lead-in”, removing the Rocky name. I see in another place you were able to step back, “The defense rests.” I think what should happen is, you should concede outright!

    My spelling of kaleidoscope was wrong. I know better, actually, but t just gets done that way sometimes by force of overlooking it.

    As for better handle, I wrote “batter handle” by some slip of the finger. What gives. It actually makes sense with batter.

    It’s not just human beings who will be graced to react to evil, the angels also. The angels will come at anyone who will resist the truth. But we also will have Moses as our judge and I marvel over which of them come down harder!

    Mind I made this too easy for you or misled you by helping to keep your page going. It was a nightmare not a dream and the blessing was, the time for slumber had ended. If your focus is too narrow that is one affair. But should it be that a sense of character needs testing, then why not.

    ‘ Yet, I venture to say the overturning of classical morality that we are witnessing in our time with ever increasing force and speed has been largely made possible by the elevation of compassion, sincerity, and sensitivity to the rank of moral absolutes. ‘


  16. Thanks for the review! Loved the first one but I always worry, especially in today’s world, that sequels will be weird and/or not good. Looking forward to seeing it now that I know there isn’t anything super problematic. Unfortunately I live in an extremely rural place and the only theater anywhere close had Little Mirmaid and then Flash.

  17. Thank you for this insightful review of Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverses. I count on you for reliable reviews. Enjoyed the movie and can’t wait for #3!

  18. Critics admit the motive and strategy of machination of memory by a maneuvering of images and ideas. While the movie conveys dark themes peddled under a “portrayal of light” in order to position the understanding.

    Really it zones in on people with little and no sense of will -indulging and gratifying. I wonder how much this is reflected in the scripting.

    How can it ever be right or even lighthearted.



    • “and many who heard him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things?'”

      No, seriously, where did you get these things? I have no idea where any of it is coming from. You’re not just making stuff up are you?

      Are you a prophet? Does God speak to you in dreams? Reveal other people’s sins, and that?

    • You haven’t acknowledged my reply but you’re inviting others to question?

      Anyone? In the name of Bueller?

      Reading other Spider-verse critics online the reports aren’t all favourable and they make sense as criticism even though they don’t include religion. Good lessons for everyone, including SDG.

  19. ‘ Across The Spider-Verse is so intent on constantly showing us something new that it sometimes neglects the classical virtues and comforts of the old. And even if it’s the rare galaxy brain blockbuster to come off as a bit too busy and overplotted instead of lowest common denominator targeting, messiness is still messiness.


    That it falls short when it comes to matching the emotional impact of Into The Spider-Verse is further exemplified by a surprisingly abrupt cliffhanger conclusion that instead of sending the viewer out on a rousing high just makes one wonder why such an otherwise sharp franchise is going the route of weaker MCU entries in shortchanging its effectiveness as a stand-alone film to tease a future installment. That’s definitely one case where the film would’ve done well to heed Gwen’s opening promise of doing things differently. ‘


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