Are movies copying Into the Spiderverse?

New movies seem to be following the path of Into the Spiderverse.


New movies seem to be following the path of “Into the Spiderverse”.

Jordan Denzler and Justin Longo

Over the past few years, many animation studios have begun emulating Pixar’s round, simple-yet-realistic style, pushing out western animation that differed from the formula. In 2019, “Into the Spider-Verse” captured the hearts of fans all over the world, showcasing a bold, non-traditional animation style that elevated the piece to greater heights. The film featured a comic book-like style, changing frame rates and brilliant use of colors, inspiring animators to find new ways to animate. 

The animators behind “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” represented one of many studios to incorporate those techniques. They not only used a changing frame rate, but also pushed action lines, adding movement and personality in a way never seen before. The movie also utilized a mix of 2D and 3D animation to push the fairytale aesthetic, a technique that was used in “Into the Spider-Verse” and Riot Games’ “Arcane.” This is known as “2.5D” animation and involves overlaying 2D drawings over a 3D model, giving the depth and movement of a 3D model while allowing for more illustration-like textures and expressions. 

“We have tried to stand out from other studios, which tend to skew more to realistic art styles. But as the technology improves, realistic animation gets old and boring…so we wanted to do something more comics-based that allowed us to transmit emotions in ways live-action can,” said Arnaud Delord, co-director of Arcane and co-founder of studio Fortiche.

Similarly to “Into the Spider-Verse” and “Arcane,” the latest “Puss In Boots” installment  released to universal acclaim, with a majority of the praise directed at its lively, vibrant 2.5-D animation. These similarities have led to some viewers accusing the latest release in the Shrek franchise of having a derivative animation style.

This is following a recent trend of  2.5-D animated projects like the aforementioned works, along with Dreamwork’s “The Bad Guys” and Sony’s “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” 3D animation is moving away from the traditional Pixar style. Pierre Perifel, director of “The Bad Guys,” chose the style as a way to differentiate from other big-budget animated films.

“I want to see something different,” Perifel said. ”Frankly, I’m not the only one. I’m not the first one also to do a movie that’s slightly different [stylistically]…You can see the trend is shifting a little bit.”

Perifel is a part of one of the many studios to decide to go in different directions. They aren’t copying “Spider-Verse,” but “Spider-Verse” was the first to do it, paving the way for other western animation studios. Some eastern studios have been pushing animation forward for years—from Studio Ghibli’s charming films to MAPPA’s intense animes—but there are still studios looking for new avenues to explore within the field, such as Paper Plane’s upcoming Chinese donghua “To Be Hero X.” This show takes “2.5-D” to another level by exploring a world that switches between a vibrant, smooth, comic-like 2D world, and a rugged, realistic 3D universe, complete with unique camera shots that complete the two-world fantasy of the show.

The many different techniques and unique stylistic choices throughout this new wave of animation showcases the true power of the medium. For any fans of animation itself, there is a lot to be hopeful for with “Arcane” being renewed for a second season, a “Spider-Verse” sequel releasing in early June, and new projects around the world such as “To Be Hero X” in production.