On Spiderverses and Neoliberal Folly

It’s pretty difficult for a film to live up to the reputation of being the number one rated film ever on Letterboxd, a title which, however fleeting and however idiotic, indicates at least some profound level of widespread resonance. It happened last year to eventual best picture winner Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, a pretty good film that probably didn’t deserve either its instant canonization or its inevitable toxic backlash. Now it has happened to Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse, the sequel to 2018’s Into the Spiderverse and (importantly) prequel to the impending Beyond the Spiderverse due next year. The already slightly tired avenue of multiverse storytelling seems a key way to inspire extreme reactions, allowing for “justified” maximalism while simultaneously awakening that same pseudoscientific fervor that tends to unite brands of filmbro as disparate as Rick and Morty stan and Christopher Nolanite. Being a multiverse skeptic myself, Across the Spiderverse appeared primed to ignite at least one man’s backlash: my own.