How the ‘Spider-Verse’ Animators Created That Trippy Look

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” follows the adventures of an Afro-Latino teenager, Miles Morales, who has been bitten by a radioactive spider in Brooklyn and joins forces with other Spideys from alternate dimensions. It’s one of the animation surprises of the season: both a box office hit and a critical favorite (certified 97 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) that has been collecting awards, even winning best picture from the Utah Film Critics Association.

One reason is the fresh animation style that sets it apart from the year’s other releases. “Spider-Verse” celebrates its print origins with bold graphics and mainstays of comic-book style, including thought balloons, printed words and wavy lines to indicate a tingling Spidey Sense. A.O. Scott, in his review for The Times, wrote that “the characters feel liberated by animation, and the audience will, too.”

[Read our review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”]

Many recent American animated features look homogenized. More powerful computers and sophisticated software have made it possible to produce intricately detailed backgrounds and characters: You can see every leaf on every tree and every stitch in a sweater. But characters of all shapes and sizes seem to have very similar walks and runs and expressions.

“Spider-Verse’s” three directors — Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman — wanted to move away from that sameness, in part because Miles is so unlike the Spider-Man fans know from the live-action movies. “That made it doubly important for the film to look new, so viewers would feel like they’re seeing Spider-Man for the first time,” Ramsey said. “We couldn’t rest on the conventions

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