Across The Spider-Verse Proves One Way The Movies Can’t Beat The Comics

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Summary “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse demonstrates the usefulness of the comic format with its incorporation of pop-up text boxes, providing extra context and inner monologues.”
“The advantage of Marvel Comics over live-action movies is evident, as text boxes wouldn’t work as well in the latter. Exceptions exist, like in Ms. Marvel and possible Deadpool 3.”
“While text boxes in the film are helpful, their time limit on-screen makes it harder for audiences to catch all the information. Future projects may need to perfect this technique.”
One detail from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse proves that Marvel’s live-action projects can’t match the storytelling techniques in Marvel Comics. The sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse released in June 2023, reintroducing audiences to Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of Earth-1610 who is thrust into a multiversal adventure after coming face-to-face with Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099, and the Spider Society. Using innovative animation techniques, Across the Spider-Verse is deeply inspired by the Marvel Comics source material, while also bringing the young hero to life in vivid detail and color. One Marvel Comics technique in particular is used throughout Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but this may be a double-edged sword.
Not only so Sony’s Spider-Verse films open with the logo of the Comics Code Authority, the now-defunct organization that acted as a regulatory service for comic books between 1954 and 2011, but the films’ animation is also heavily inspired by the art of Marvel Comics. The typical “bang,” “crash,” and “pow” moments are emphasized throughout both Into the Spider-Verse and Across the Spider-Verse, helping to heighten moments of brilliant action, and this is expected to continue in the upcoming sequel, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. These aren’t the only moments of comic inspiration in the films, however, as one other fitting technique is used throughout.
Related: Spider-Man Across The Spider-Verse Ending Explained: Miles Morales Shocker & What It Means
Across The Spider-Verse Shows How Helpful The Comic Format Is
One element of Marvel Comics that was used in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and continues into the 2023 sequel is the little pop-up text boxes that provide extra context to a scene or detail a character’s inner monologue. These were taken directly from the pages of Marvel Comics, as square panel notes are often used to set the scene, reveal extra information, and sometimes emphasize a character’s speech. These text boxes are very fitting for the animation style of Sony’s Spider-Verse films, as they make sure the audience understands exactly what is going on by delivering information that would feel too jarring to be used in actual dialogue.
Why Superhero Movies Can’t Use Panel Text As Well As The Comics
While these text boxes work well in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, particularly during Miles Morales’ introduction to the Spider Society, the use of these panels also highlights the advantage that Marvel Comics has over Marvel’s live-action movies. Text boxes might be perfect for animated projects such as Sony’s Spider-Verse films, but these wouldn’t work so well in live-action projects. These would simply feel out of place in a live-action project, though there are exceptions to this rule, as Phase 4’s Ms. Marvel implemented something similar to these panels in its mix of live-action and animation, and Marvel Studios’ upcoming Deadpool 3 could use them to break the fourth wall.
Another advantage that Marvel Comics’ text boxes have over their use in films is that the panels are permanent in the comics, but have an inherent on-screen time limit when used in film. This means it might be harder for audiences to catch all the information in the text box before it disappears and can’t be revisited. Most of the core storyline of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is spoken in dialogue, which means it’s not entirely necessary to read every panel. However, there are fun details, hilarious jokes, and important thoughts that die-hard fans will be desperate to catch, so this technique may need to be perfected in future projects.

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