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SYFY WIRE The Mitchells vs. The Machines

'Mitchells vs. The Machines' almost featured a Spider-Man cameo as nod to 'Spider-Verse' producers Lord & Miller

By Josh Weiss

In Sony's latest animated feature — The Mitchells vs. The Machines — an average family takes on a rogue A.I. in an effort to free humanity from a global robot uprising. But if director Mike Rianda had a bit more time on the movie's production, the titular Mitchells could have received some help from Marvel's famous wall-crawler...sort of.

During a recent conversation with Inverse, Rianda (a veteran of Disney Channel's Gravity Falls, he co-wrote/directed the project with Jeff Rowe) admitted he wanted to pay homage to executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller with a quick Spider-Man cameo. “I remember trying to get like a kind of disheveled lumpy Spider-Man in the background of a shot,” he said, perhaps referring to Jake Johnson's washed-up version of Peter Parker featured in 2018's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. "But people were like, 'Look, we got to finish the movie.'"

Lord and Miller previously collaborated on Spider-Verse, a groundbreaking comic book film that nabbed Sony an Oscar win for Best Animated Feature in 2019. A sequel (currently scheduled for theatrical release on Oct. 7, 2022) is now in production from a trio of new directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman helmed the first installment, but it's unclear why they did not return). 

“The crew behind the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse set such a ridiculously high bar, and we’re humbled to take on the challenge of charting the next chapter in the story of Miles Morales," the three directors of Spider-Verse 2 said in a joint statement published by Variety last month.

Speaking with SYFY WIRE in early 2020, the first film's composer, Daniel Pemberton, revealed that he knew of the plot for the next adventure. "I’m always thinking about what we can do to make [the sequel] even more exciting than the first one," he said. "They have a story and it’s really brilliant. I think it’s gonna be very exciting. That’s all I’ll say."

While Rianda wasn't able to include the iconic web-slinger in Mitchells, he did have the benefit of the character's revolutionary animation techniques, albeit with a few tweaks. Instead of using hundreds of dots to evoke a comic book aesthetic, for example, Mitchells opts for digital brush strokes that evoke a storybook kind of feel.

"They took all those tools on Spider-Verse, and they kind of just like, bent them. It’s really subtle. You don't notice it ever, but hopefully when you just look at the movie as a whole, you're like, 'This is wild, what's different about this?'" the filmmaker explained, also voicing his hope for a potential crossover with Marvel down the road. "Maybe there's The Mitchells: Into the Spider-Verse or The Mitchells vs Spider-Man."

Now streaming on NetflixThe Mitchells vs. The Machines is another critical hit for Sony's animation department with an impressive 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.