This post contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
“You want in?”
When Gwen Stacy asks that question at the end of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the answer is invariably “YES!”, and we shout that answer not just because Gwen is incredibly cool and anyone would be honored to join her band, the Mary Janes. Rather, it’s because Across the Spider-Verse ends on a cliffhanger, with Gwen gathering a team of Spider-People to rescue Miles from an alternative universe. And from whom are they going to rescue Miles? From himself, sort of.
All this is after the shocking reveal that the spider that bit Miles hailed from Earth-42, thus disrupting the order of the multiverse that Miguel O’Hara Spider-Man 2099 fights to protect. Because of his multiversal DNA, Miles travels from the Spider-Society headquarters to Earth-42 where his Uncle Aaron still lives, but the lack of a Spider-Man has turned New York into a war zone at the hands of the Sinister Six Cabal. Worse, Miles gets captured by the Prowler, who in this world is Miles Morales!
Now that Across the Spider-Verse has been released to Netflix in the US, more and more people get to shout in agreement at the end of the movie, eager to see what happens next, and had everything gone according to plan, none of us would have had to wait very long. Shortly after Sony Pictures Animation announced a sequel to Into the Spider-Verse, producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller revealed that the movie would be called Across the Spider-Verse (Part One), because one film could not contain the amount of story they wanted to tell. Even when they shortened the title to Across the Spider-Verse, and retitled its sequel to Beyond the Spider-Verse, Lord and Miller planned for the third entry to come shortly after the second.
So when audiences stumbled out of the theater in early June, they thought they would only have to wait a few months to see how Miles and Gwen wrap up their story. At that point, Sony had scheduled Beyond the Spider-Verse for March 29, 2024. But now, not only will Beyond the Spider-Verse not come to theaters next March, Sony has completely removed the film from the schedule.
What happened, you ask? One of the problems is obvious, as studios’ refusal to pay writers and actors properly forced a labor strike, the latter of which is still ongoing. Rather than work with the striking workers, studios such as Sony have bumped projects from their release schedule.
The second issue relates to the first and points to a larger issue. For all the boundless energy and imagination in Across the Spider-Verse, reports of unfair working conditions leaked shortly after the film’s release. Speaking to Vulture, four anonymous animators revealed the extended overtime and unbearable work weeks demanded by Sony, often to make-up for delays on the part of producers Lord and Miller and high-level executives.
Because neither of those issues have been resolved, we still don’t know when Beyond the Spider-Verse will make it to theaters. Fortunately, the animators packed tons of detail into the 140 minutes of Across the Spider-Verse, which rewards re-watching. And when Beyond the Spider-Verse finally releases, we’ll be more than ready to join Gwen Stacy’s band.