How Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is Revolutionizing Animation

Superhero films are all, at their essence, a comic book on screen. Some make a more literal translation than others. Highly stylized films like Sin City and Watchmen are live action attempts to bring graphic novels to life and they definitely made a splash in their time. However, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has completely rewritten the rules of animation and may come the closest yet to being a moving comic book page.

Collider sat down with producer Chris Miller and writer-producer Phil Lord to discuss their revolutionary technique that, well, they couldn’t actually think of a name for. “The marketing team at Sony asked us this and we struck out about a year ago,” Lord said of naming their animation style. “It’s a new thing that hasn’t been done,” Miller added. “From the very beginning, we were like, can we make a movie that feels like you’re walking inside of a comic book?”

The end result is actually a hybrid of the technology that is available today. The reason the style looks like nothing we have ever seen before is that it is a custom technique that was developed by the artists. “It took us years to figure out the process of both CG and 2D hand-drawn animation and all of these comic book textures and designs woven into something that feels like every frame is a painting,” Miller said.

Apparently, none of the animators could rest on their laurels. The lighting, hair, cloth, and more had to be reconsidered under the lens of how they could enhance the comic book style. “Even the lighting department was making lighting that was halftone dots and how do you figure out how that moves in three dimensions and shadows that were hashmark sort of things and textures that were paintings,” Miller explained.

The pair did allude to the potential for Into the Spider-Verse to launch “infinite” spinoffs but are waiting to see how fans react first. If they appreciate it anywhere near as much as the critics, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this style in the future.

Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters December 14.


Kelle Long

Kelle has written about film and TV for The Credits since 2016. Follow her on Twitter @molaitdc for interviews with really cool film and TV artists and only occasional outbursts about Broadway, tennis, and country music. Please no talking or texting during the movie. Unless it is a musical, then sing along loudly.