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Sony’s Spider-Verse Tackles Horror and Mental Health With The Spider Within

Miles Morales embarks on a solo adventure in a brief yet terrifying short film.

Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) in The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story
Sony Pictures Animation
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In a perfect world, Sony’s animated Spider-Verse trilogy would be complete this year. Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, the third film in the studio’s acclaimed series, was slated for a Spring 2024 release. That was before the actors’ strike pushed production back indefinitely, and before Vulture reported on unsustainable working conditions for the project’s animators.

“There’s no way that movie’s coming out then,” an anonymous animator told the publication. “Everyone’s been fully focused on Across the Spider-Verse and barely crossing the finish line. And now it’s like, Oh, yeah, now we have to do the other one.

Fans will have to wait much longer for the continuation of Miles Morales’ big-screen adventure, but Sony isn’t leaving us in the lurch. With the help of Sony’s Leading and Empowering New Storytellers (LENS) program, the Spider-Verse team has quietly been developing a mini-sequel of sorts. It could help fill the void Beyond left in its wake, but it also serves as a realistic reminder of the toll of superheroism.

The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2023, and is now available for free on YouTube. The seven-minute interlude is set between the events of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and its sequel, Across the Spider-Verse, and follows Miles (Shameik Moore) on a brief dive into his psyche. He’s struggling to juggle his new powers, the myriad responsibilities that come with them, and his fledgling double life.

It’s not easy maintaining high grades at school, keeping a superhero identity a secret, and being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and The Spider Within drives that point home when Miles suffers a visceral panic attack. In the short, Miles’ greatest adversary is his own mental health. His fears, self-doubt, and guilt manifest as a shadowy clone, one he can’t fight back against no matter what he tries. Honestly, it’s rather terrifying.

The Spider Within lets Miles’ story — and his anxiety — speak for itself.

Sony Pictures Animation

The Spider-Verse films have always felt like fever dreams in a fun way, but The Spider Within uses the franchise’s unique animation style to tell a horror story. It also makes a crucial statement about mental health, specifically for Black men. That even Spider-Man feels helpless and anxious sometimes is a message that hits hard. Fortunately, The Spider Within also reminds us that it’s okay to ask for help when we need it.

The Spider Within packs a powerful statement into its short runtime. Sony released the short in partnership with the Kevin Love Fund, an organization dedicated to destigmatizing mental health conversations. It serves as a fundraiser for the group as well as a standalone Spider-Verse story; it may be brief, but it’s more than enough to tide fans over (and maybe get them talking) before Beyond the Spider-Verse eventually hits theaters.

The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story is streaming on YouTube.

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