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‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Team on Casting New Additions and Expanding Beyond the First Film: “I Don’t Think People Are Ready for What a Leap It Is”



Five years later Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse become a box office and cultural hit, en route to winning an Oscar, the second film in the planned trilogy premiered in Los Angeles on Tuesday and its writers are feeling — tired.

“It feels great and we are totally exhausted,” said Chris Miller, who along with partner Phil Lord were putting the finishing touches on. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse until just a few weeks ago. “We might still be working on it, there’s still home video,” joked Lord.

The sequel follows Miles Morales as he is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters the Spider Society, a team of Spider-People charged with protecting the multiverse’s existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must set out on his own to save those he loves most.

In addition to returning voice cast stars Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez, the film welcomes newcomers Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar Isaac and Jason Schwartzman. Lord teased that when it came to casting, the essential question was, “Who is the Spider-Person that I think is the coolest and I wish would like me and think I was cool? That was the objective.”

The real objective, though, is the movie’s focus on family, as Miller explained, “What’s interesting about the multiverse is that when anything is possible, it makes you have to boil things down to the things that actually matter in life, and the story and emotions and the relationships we have with the people we care about.” Added Lord, “The wider it goes, the more it has to focus on Miles’ family and his relationship with Gwen and Peter. It can’t get too far; it really is a story about a family.”

The first Spider-Verse was among Hollywood’s first projects to really explore the multiverse, something that’s since been replicated in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Everything Everywhere All at Once and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Executive producer Peter Ramsey — who co-directed the first movie and teased “I don’t think people are ready for what a leap it is from the first one” — said watching others follow the multiverse trend is “incredibly flattering. It’s an idea that’s been around, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s kind of amazing how much it’s happening now, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow.’” Ramsey added he’s “eager to see what the next thing after the multiverse is. Hopefully [the franchise’s third film] Beyond the Spider-Verse will tell us something.”

Kemp Powers, who co-directs alongside Joaquim Dos Santos and Justin K. Thompson, also noted that upon hearing Lord and Miller’s idea for the second chapter, “It surprised me. If it was going to be just more of exactly what we did here, I wouldn’t have been interested; it’s the fact that they were trying to do something dramatically different.”

Powers recalled when casting for the new roles, they opted to listen to people’s authentic speaking voices in interview clips over watching previous performances. “A great example was Daniel — it wasn’t like we listened to Daniel in Get Outwe listened to him doing interviews and thought, ‘Wow, how he naturally sounds is right what we have in our minds for [his character] Spider-Punk,’” the director said.

And for a returning star like Henry, “we knew that this story was going to branch out in such a huge way,” said the actor, who voices Miles’ father. He noted that he, Moore and Velez (who voices Miles’ mother) all feel highly connected although they recorded their voices separately, and when the second film begins, “They’re all dealing with grief; they’re all trying to figure out how to raise this teenage son, but the best thing about the Morales family is the heart.”

Henry added, “I think you get to see the love and the heart of this family in such a bigger way than you did in the first.”

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on Friday.

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