Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a lot of movie, in more ways than one. The groundbreaking animation style is a mashup of disparate different art forms and influences, while the story spits out new wall-crawlers and realities so fast that the main character Miles Morales, let alone audiences in the theater, can hardly keep up.
And instead of eventually cutting through the madness to focus on some singular, one-on-one confrontation or goal, the movie detonates the whole messy Marvel multiverse cacophony at its climax, making for a massive final sequence that is unlike anything seen on the big screen before.
"One of the things that [co-writer and producer] Phil Lord always said to us was that 'I want to be able to tell you guys you've gone too far," explained Rodney Rotham, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie, which finished number one at the box office this past weekend. "He said, 'In every department, in every way, push this to the point where I have to tell you you've gone too far.'"
Rotham, along with co-directors Pete Ramsey and Bob Persichetti, seized on Lord's suggestion and went all-in on sensory stimulation, filling the screen with comic book panels, caption boxes, 2.5D characters, street art, computer graphics, and more, often all at once. It took a full year to develop the movie's aesthetic — they created about 15 seconds of footage in that time — and then reach the point that the film's big climactic scene was viable.
The movie features seven different Spider-people from different planes of reality, each rendered in their own distinct animation style, colliding in Brooklyn after the mourning mob boss Kingpin puts a tear in the fabric of the multiverse with a particle accelerator. The finale of Into the Spider-Verse sees Kingpin put that deadly, reality-splitting weapon into full-gear, which creates a demonic vacuum of sorts, sucking characters and elements from a variety of planes of existence, filling the screen with an endless splatter of skyscrapers, vehicles, colors, clashing aesthetics, and neon flourishes.
Though it lasts just a few minutes, the sequence took three and a half months to create.
"It took the entire project to get to the place in the last three and a half months to figure out this what we can do," Persichetti told SYFY WIRE. "It was built on the things we learned through the last two years and nine months. Then it was every single day working on those sequences, that whole climax run, just nonstop, iterating back and forth. Getting animation done, coming back into camera, going back to editorial, cutting it together."
It wasn't just that it took that long to put all those elements on the screen. Much of the time was spent figuring out just how much they could get up there; actually producing it was almost easier.
"It grew in strength and mutated," Ramsey added. "We spent a lot of time in storyboards just throwing everything we could at it and trying probably every possible combination. There's multiple storylines going on at one time. There's stuff happening in the other universes. There's the Spiders trying to get to the collider to shut it down. There's all these different emotional and character beats you have to hit within all of that. Once we had a basic, basic roadmap then it was fleshing that out and just continually improving it, plussing it, and making sure that the final execution was taking all the ideas as far as we could push them."
With a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score and an A+ CinemaScore from audiences, it's clear that Lord's request that they put it all on screen was a good one, executed perfectly by an exhausted team of animators.