Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse!
Even before Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse hit theaters, fans were excited to see what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the producers and writers behind the film, had in store. They even compared the film to The Empire Strikes Back, which is considered by many to be the best Star Wars movie of all time. While such a bold claim could have been the kiss of death for most films, Across the Spider-Verse has impressed fans and critics alike, with many already touting it as a potential Oscar contender.
Across the Spider-Verse and Empire Strikes Back Comparisons Justified?
One of the most obvious similarities between Across the Spider-Verse and The Empire Strikes Back is that they both serve as the middle entry in a trilogy. Lord and Miller spoke with IndieWire about the challenge of crafting a sequel to Into the Spider-Verse, stating that they wanted to take Miles Morales on a journey that would be as emotionally resonant as the first film, but would also take viewers to new and exciting places. The film does just that, as Miles, Gwen, and several other Spider-Man variants travel between different versions of Earth in an effort to prevent the multiverse from collapsing.
Exploring these alternate Earths in Across the Spider-Verse evokes the same sense of wonder as traveling to new planets in Star Wars. While some fans may feel oversaturated with new Star Wars content in recent years, this feeling of awe was prevalent in the franchise’s earlier films, such as The Empire Strikes Back, when new worlds were still a novelty on the big screen.
Lord and Miller made sure to make each world in Across the Spider-Verse unique, with Gwen’s world, Earth-65, animated to look like a watercolor painting and Earth-928 featuring a futuristic version of New York City.
Both Across the Spider-Verse and The Empire Strikes Back feature shocking twists that affect how the main heroes view themselves moving forward. For Luke Skywalker, the revelation that Darth Vader is his father forever changes his character’s trajectory, leaving audiences unsure of what will happen next.
Similarly, Miles Morales’ discovery of a variant version of himself as the villainous Prowler casts doubt on his role in the series’ third film.
Despite their respective setbacks, both Luke and Miles are not alone. At the end of Across the Spider-Verse, Gwen and a group of Spider-People are determined to find Miles and bring him back. Similarly, Luke has a newfound bond with his allies Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando, who are determined to save Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt.
Fans of Spider-Man will have to wait until Beyond the Spider-Verse, currently set for release on March 29, 2024, to see what happens next. But with the film’s high critical acclaim and comparisons to one of the greatest movies of all time, it’s sure to be another thrilling ride.
Spoiler Alert: Spoilers Ahead for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-VerseEven before Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swung into theaters, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the producers, and writers behind the film, were comparing it to The Empire Strikes Back.
A claim like this would likely serve as a death sentence for most movies. However, Across the Spider-Verse managed to impress fans and critics so much so that many are already claiming that it is destined for Oscar success. Therefore, it no longer seems quite as bold to compare Miles Morales’ latest multiversal adventure to what many consider the best Star Wars movie of all time.
The Middle Children
The most obvious similarity between Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Empire Strikes Backwhich was released back in 1980, is that they both serve as the middle entry in a trilogy. Ahead of the film’s release, Lord and Miller spoke to IndieWire about the challenge of crafting a sequel to Into the Spider-Verse. Miller said,
“We came together and started to figure out what was really important about Miles’ journey and how we could tell a really satisfying story that would be as emotionally resonant as the first one, but take us to a bunch of new places.”
Across the Spider-Verse literally takes Miles, Gwen, and several other Spider-Man variants to new places. Since the film’s narrative revolves around Miguel O’Hara trying to prevent the multiverse from collapsing, the main characters travel between various different versions of Earth.
Exploring alternate Earth worlds in Across the Spider-Verse mimics the awe-inspiring feeling of traveling to new planets in Star Wars. While fans have become slightly oversaturated with new Star Wars content in recent years, this feeling of wonder was especially prevalent in the franchise’s early films, like The Empire Strikes Backwhen audiences were not used to seeing a multitude of new worlds on their screens.
Over 40 years ago, The Empire Strikes Back brought audiences to planets such as Hoth, Dagobah, and Bespin. In Across the Spider-Verseviewers are transported to several versions of Earth. Just like the creative team behind the original Star Wars trilogy made every planet unique, Lord and Miller wanted to make sure the worlds in Across the Spider-Verse were designed differently.
For example, Earth-65, Gwen’s world, was animated to look like a watercolor painting, and Earth-928, the home of O’Hara, features the sprawling city of Nueva York, a futuristic version of New York. Finally, Lord and Miller transport us (alongside Earth-1610’s Miles) to a dark, macabre world at the end of the movie, setting the stage for a surprising reveal…
Both Across the Spider-Verse and The Empire Strikes Back have shocking twists. While many movies include twists, the revelations in these two films affect how the main heroes view themselves moving forward, casting some doubt on their eventual role in the third movie.
As everyone knows, The Empire Strikes Back includes one of the most iconic twists in the history of cinema. As a one-handed Luke Skywalker hangs on for dear life after battling Darth Vader in Cloud City, the menacing villain reveals that he is his father. Luke, who previously believed Darth Vader killed his father, is forever changed by this moment.
This is such an effective twist because the audience no longer knows where Luke’s characterization will go in the next movie. While he was only ever presented to us as a hero, we now realize that Luke has the potential to turn to the dark side, like his father before him.
In the final moments of Across the Spider-VerseMiles successfully escapes O’Hara’s Spider Society and believes he has returned to Earth-1610 in time to save his father, who he has been told is destined to die. However, since Miguel’s arachnid transport machine reads DNA to transport the Spider-Men to their respective worlds, Miles, who was bitten by a spider from Earth-42, was instead sent to that dimension.
An overwhelmingly eerie atmosphere overtakes the movie as Miles encounters his Uncle Aaron, who previously died in Into the Spider-Verse. Miles is promptly captured and tied up, then introduced to Miles G. Moralesa variant version of himself and Earth-42’s Prowler.
Just like Luke discovering that his father turned to the dark side, Miles seeing a version of himself as the Prowler will make him further question who he is supposed to be in the series’ third film. As various members of the Spider Society continue to hunt him down, and as he faces his uncle and a villainous version of himself, O’Hara’s claim that Miles was never meant to be Spider-Man will surely continue to echo throughout his mind in Beyond the Spider-Verse.
A Cliffhanger Ending
However, even though Miles is at his lowest point at the end of Across the Spider-Versehe is not alone. Even though they may be worlds away, Gwen recruited various Spider-People to help her find Miles, including Peter B. Parker, Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker, and Spider-Punk. Similarly, while he may have just learned a dark truth, Luke is safe amidst the rebel fleet at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. He has a newfound bond with his allies Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando, who are all determined to retrieve Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt.
While they managed to save Han in Return of the JediSpider-Man fans will have to wait until Beyond the Spider-Versecurrently set for a March 29, 2024 release, to find out if Gwen and her “band” will reunite with Miles.