‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ is a miracle

A groundbreaking animated film that makes ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ look small. PLUS: ‘I Think You Should Leave’ releases another fantastic season, and The Rock gets a ‘Fast’ spinoff.

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ is a miracle
Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. / Columbia Pictures

Happy Friday! This is a busy edition of Popculturology.

The new season of I Think You Should Leave dropped this week, Ted Lasso wrapped up its season (its run?), and I saw the jaw-dropping Spider-Man: Across the Universe on Thursday night. Phew.

With Succession and Barry done, it should be a quieter weekend. What’s the next big show you’re looking forward to? The new trailer for The Righteous Gemstones has me pretty excited to see that dysfunctional family return to HBO.

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In Today's Edition
  • Feature Presentation: The most impressive animated film I’ve ever seen
  • Bonus Feature: ‘I have no problem being on my phone for hours and hours’
  • The News: A fourth Tom Holland Spider-Man movie is the works, The Rock is getting a new Fast & Furious spinoff
  • Trailer Watch: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Justified: City Primeval, The Righteous Gemstones
  • Playlist: Ted Lasso
  • What to Watch: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Feature Presenation
Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. / Columbia Pictures

The most impressive animated film I’ve ever seen

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse shouldn’t exist.

In a world of animated movies that revolve around which celebrities are voicing characters, in a world of sequels that often fail to capture the magic of their predecessors, in a world where Sony churns out Morbius or Venom sequels, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse should not exist.

But it does.

Somehow we’re lucky enough to have Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

This isn’t just another animated movie or or another superhero movie or another Spider-Man movie. It would be easy to dismiss any of those movies. We have plenty of all them.

No. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a miracle. It’s the most impressive animated film I’ve ever seen. It’s quite possibly the greatest superhero movie ever made. And it should be a lock for a Best Picture nomination when the next Oscars roll around.

I saw Across the Spider-Verse on Thursday night. It meant not getting home until after 11:30, but I couldn’t wait to see this one. I love Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and I showered it with all of these superlatives when I saw it a few years ago. Into the Spider-Verse deserved every ounce of praise that came its way. Across the Spider-Verse deserves that praise even more.

I don’t understand how this movie was made. It’s a groundbreaking piece of animation. It’s packed with references to almost every Spider-Man story and character and show and movie you can imagine. Across the Spider-Verse makes Spider-Man: No Way Home look small.

God, there’s so much heart in this movie too. Just bursting with heart and joy and a love for these characters. Miles Morales and this version of Gwen Stacy — a version that didn’t die as a plot device for Peter Parker — are babies when it comes to how old most comic book characters are. But here they are at the center of the most ambitious superhero movie ever created.

I need to see Across the Spider-Verse again. I want to pause this movie over and over and over again to take in every tiny detail that the animators who willed it into life poured into the movie.

I’m not going to touch any spoilers in this newsletter. I went into the movie without knowing a single surprise, and you all deserve that too.

Trust me, though, that Across the Spider-Verse is special. There’s nothing else like it. And it set one hell of a standard for Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse to live up to when it comes out next year.

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Bonus Feature
Tim Robinson in I Think You Should Leave. / Netflix

‘I have no problem being on my phone for hours and hours’

Tim Robinson is a genius. He might be an unhinged genius, but he’s a genius.

The new season of I Think You Should Leave once again delivered a slew of highly quotable — and highly meme-able — sketches.

I need to rewatch (and rewatch again) the third season before I can fully place where these sketches rank in the greater ITYSL pantheon. What were your favorite sketches?

I do have a hard time comparing this season (as I did with last season) to the first season of ITYSL. That season is just hit after hit after hit. The first episode alone has Robinson trying to open a door the wrong way, Turbo Team, Baby of the Year, Vanessa Bayer figuring out Instagram and Steven Yeun using too small a square. (I’m realizing most of this section sounds like I’m having a stroke if you haven’t watched ITSYL …)

If you watched this season’s Biff Wiff sketch and thought, huh, that sounds like a real song, that’s because ITYSL brought in members of the band Turnstile to record “Listening.” It’s no “Friday Night,” but it’s still good.

Has anyone beaten Egg Game yet? My high score is 99.

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The News
Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home. / Columbia Pictures

A fourth Tom Holland/Zendaya Spider-Man movie is in the works

While Spider-Man: No Way Home did a perfect job wrapping up the story that the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man movies were telling, there was no way Sony was going to stop making those films.

“Are we going to make another movie? Of course, we are,” producer Amy Pascal told Variety this week. “We’re in the process, but the writers strike, nobody is working during the strike. We’re all being supporters and whenever they get themselves together, we’ll get started.”

There hasn’t been any news regarding a new deal between Sony and Marvel Studios to keep Tom Holland and Spider-Man in the MCU. Sony could easily go ahead with new Holland movies that focus on the other Spider-Man spinoffs they’ve been developing, but that would rob both the character and fans of his continued interaction with the greater MCU.

Dwayne Johnson returning for a new Fast & Furious spinoff

I’ve been wondering why Dwayne Johnson hasn’t addressed his return to the Fast & Furious universe via a credits scene in Fast X. The man could not stop talking about the Henry Cavill/Superman cameo during Black Adam’s credits, even though he blew the surprise in the process. Why wasn’t he chatty about this cameo?

Turns out something bigger was in the works. Shortly after TheWrap broke the news, Johnson took to social media to reveal that in addition to the Fast X cameo, he would be playing Hobbs in a new Fast & Furious spinoff set between Fast X and the next/final Fast & Furious film.

“The next Fast & Furious film you’ll see the legendary lawman in will be the HOBBS movie that will serve as a fresh, new chapter & set up for FASTX: Part II,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Last summer Vin and I put all the past behind us. We’ll lead with brotherhood and resolve — and always take care of the franchise, characters & FANS that we love.”

It’s wild to see how the dominos fell after Black Adam flopped and Johnson’s attempt to take over Warner Bros.’ DCEU fell with it.

James Gunn was brought over from Marvel Studios and given creative control over DC Studios. Cavill’s tenure as Superman ended. The DCEU is being rebooted. A live-action Moana was surprisingly announced by Johnson less than a decade after the original hit theaters. And now Johnson is back as Hobbs in the Fast & Furious franchise, putting aside a pretty vicious rivalry he had with Vin Diesel. The hierarchy of power, it did change.

Grogu and the CGI Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett. / Lucasfilm

Mark Hamill backs ‘an age-appropriate actor’ if future Luke Skywalker stories need to be told

Lucasfilm has made it clear (while ignoring the success of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi) that it believes recasting legacy characters with younger actors doesn’t work. Unfortunately, the studio took the wrong lesson from Solo. Instead of bringing a younger actor in to fully play Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Lucasfilm went with a mix of Mark Hamill, a stand-in, CGI and voice software.

It’s been my theory for a bit now that we’ll get a Disney+ series focused on CGI Luke Skywalker after Dave Filoni’s Heir to the Empire film wraps up this era of Disney+ storytelling. I may have spoken too soon, as Hamill himself doesn’t think that’s the best idea.

“People say, ‘Oh, now you're going to be able to do a whole series of Luke post-Return of the Jedi.’ I said, ‘I don't think so,’” Hamill told Esquire. “First of all, they don’t need to tell those stories, but if they do, they could get an age-appropriate actor.”

Look, they’re going to tell these stories. There’s no way Lucasfilm passes up that opportunity.

Hamill also touched on whether we’ll see him in Daisy Ridley’s upcoming New Jedi Order movie, as a recent rumor claims.

“One thing you learn working for Lucasfilm: everything is confidential. Everything is confidential,” Hamill said. “So, if I were involved, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. And if I were not involved, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. So, I don’t know. We’ll all find out together, I guess.”

The Flash director says no one can replace Ezra Miller

The rally around The Flash and its troubled star, Ezra Miller, has been fun to watch. While we’ve been debating whether Marvel Studios will drop Jonathan Majors from his role of Kang, almost everyone — Gunn, David Zaslav, pop culture writers — have been gushing about how great The Flash is, brushing the controversies surrounding Miller under the rug.

The Flash director Andy Muschietti backed up that sentiment this past week, telling The Playlist that if there were a sequel to the film, Miller will still be in the title role.

“If [a sequel] happens, yes,” Muschietti told The Playlist. “I don’t think there’s anyone that can play that character as well as they did. The other depictions of the character are great, but this particular vision of the character, they just excelled in doing it. And, as you said, the two Barrys — it feels like a character that was made for them.”

Famke Janssen, Halle Berry and James Marsden in X-Men. / 20th Century Fox

Quick hits

  • Original X-Men stars are back for Deadpool 3? We already know that the third Deadpool movie will feature Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. According to scooper CanWeGetSomeToast, he’ll be joined by Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and James Marsden. I can’t wait to see how this movie brings the Fox X-Men characters into the MCU.
  • Righteous Gemstones adds a bunch of Season 3 castmembers. Stephen Dorff, Shea Wigham, Lukas Haas, Robert Oberst, Stephen Schneider, Iliza Shlesinger, Sturgill Simpson and Casey Wilson will appear in the HBO’s upcoming season.
  • ‘It’s not fun fun. It’s work.’ Harrison Ford was asked by Esquire if it was fun making a Marvel movie. The press tours for Thunderbolts and the fourth Captain America movie with Ford are going to be wild.
  • Mandy Moore and Kumail Nanjiani cast in Insidious spinoff. Deadline reported that the duo will appear in Thread: An Insidious Tale.
  • Hamilton director confirmed for Moana. The news that Thomas Kail would direct the Moana remake broke last week, but The Hollywood Reporter confirmed it on Wednesday.

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Trailer Watch

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

I love that this trailer is full of joy. Like, it’s excited to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The characters are fun. This couldn’t be any more different than the Michael Bay Ninja Turtles movies — which is a great thing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens on Aug. 2.

Justified: City Primeval

Justified swaps out Boyd Crowder for Boyd Holbrook. I can’t wait to see Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens again. Hopefully they find a way to incorporate Walton Goggins somehow. Maybe Boyd and Raylan FaceTime every night?

Justified: City Primeval premieres on FX on July 18.

The Righteous Gemstones

This is your new Succession, folks. Catch up with The Righteous Gemstones before the show’s third season premieres later this month if you haven’t been watching.

The Righteous Gemstones Season 3 premieres on HBO on June 18.

💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!

Brendan Hunt, Jason Sudeikis and Brett Goldstein in the Ted Lasso episode “So Long, Farewell.” / Apple TV+

Ted Lasso

Episode: “So Long, Farewell”

Quick thoughts

And that’s the end of Ted Lasso. Or is it the end of Ted Lasso?

While we know that the third season of Ted Lasso has ended, it’s still unclear if this episode is the series finale. As Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall notes, “no one involved in the series — not Jason Sudeikis, not Apple, not the studio — has said word one about whether this was meant to be the end of the third season, the end of the series, or the end of the whole Ted Lasso Expanded Cinematic Universe.”

It’s a weird way to treat a show, but that’s par for the course for Ted Lasso Season 3.

I enjoyed the first two seasons of Ted Lasso. The show was a bright spot during the pandemic. All that goodwill from those seasons, though, isn’t enough to excuse the mess of this season — no matter how hard the season (series?) finale tries to cram everything into a neat, happy ending.

These characters have been all over the place. Nate’s journey from kit man to villain and back to assistant to the kit man lacked any kind of real growth. Rebecca chased the predictions of psychic and even considered selling AFC Richmond just two episodes after giving a speech about how much these teams meant. And Ted himself became a background character.

Maybe that’s what Sudeikis wanted. But it made for a very uneven season of TV. I want to say I’m going to miss these characters if the show is over, but after a season full of episodes that were way too long, they’ve overstayed their welcome.

Maybe that “deadly gas leak” explains why things were so weird this season …


“Forget my luggage. It’s full of rice.” — Coach Beard

The Links

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What to Watch
Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. / Columbia Pictures

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. C’mon. What’d you think my recommendation would be for this weekend? (Fine, you can also watch I Think You Should Leave.) But if you’re ever going to take my advice for anything, listen to me on this one.

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Odds and Ends

Succession vs. Evil Morty

This is super random and not even a new thing on the Internet, but I only this past week became aware of how similar the Succession theme and Evil Morty’s theme from Rick & Morty are.

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