Writer-producer team Phil Lord and Chris Miller, alongside director Kemp Powers, joined Deadline’s Contenders Film LA event on Saturday to discuss the world-building, innovative animation, and the fun risk they took in creating an inspired character. in Daniel Kaluuya for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Following the events of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) reunites with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) to deal with a new threat to the multiverse, Spot (Jason Schwartzman). When Gwen takes Miles to the Spider Society, a team of “Spider-People” from across the multiverse, he soon discovers that not everyone is on the same page about what it means to be a hero.
The bombastic sequel features more than six different animation styles and thousands of hand-drawn pixels to bring more than 280 variations of Spider-Man to life, 95 of which are unique, named characters.
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Lord explained what it was like taking on the monumental task of expanding the world of Spider-Verse and improving on the first film, which won an Oscar for its innovative animation style. “When your brand is surprise and innovation, it means you have to start over because you can’t go back. We all got together and said, ‘What’s most ambitious? How could we create visuals and worlds that are completely surprising in animation and as innovative as the previous film?’ But really, it was about how can we delve deeper into the characters’ relationships? How can we make this film a more complete emotional experience?”
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Thanking the animators, Powers further described the technical challenges and balance of combining the different realities of each of the different Spider-People, such as Lego Spider-Man, Spider-Punk and Mumbattan’s Pavitr Prabhakar.
“[All of these characters] They don’t need to give up how they look, how they are or where they come from. They belong together in the same frame. It was one of the biggest technical challenges of this film compared to the first… When jumping between universes, we had to break down the technical side: how little does each character change when they go to a different universe?” Powers said. “We had to really explore how Miles will be impacted by being in [the different universes] that are so different from his, as well as introducing Spider-Punk, Gwen and how Miles exists in relation to this world. This is one of those unusual films where the visual development happened throughout the entire length of the film, to the point where it felt like, I really hope we figure this out before the film comes out. So you really have to give up a lot of love for Sony Pictures, Imageworks, because they are geniuses.”
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Another revelation at the panel was the casting of Daniel Kaluuya as one of the highlights Spider-Verse characters, Hobie Brown, aka Spider-Punk, who is American in comic book lore but British in the film was based on Kalyuua’s personality.
“Daniel Kaluuya [did an] incredible performance and as a character, both visually and in terms of narrative, I think he was one of the biggest challenges. This character really had to be in the movie,” Powers said. “It was a really cool concept that we came up with so quickly [changed] after we met Daniel, and he answered us with questions, and we realized that we didn’t think [Spider-Punk’s character] It went so well. So Daniel, as an actor, pushed us to develop the character to the level necessary for him to commit to the role.”
Check back on Monday for the panel video.
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