(Los Angeles Times illustration; Sony Pictures Animation)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Spider-Man’s animated journey and the 14-year-old boy who joined the ‘Spider-Verse’

'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' wins over audiences with animation on another level.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/kyranlin/" target="_self">Kyran Lin</a>

Kyran Lin

June 15, 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was released into theaters on June 2. So far it is a massive success, collecting $120.5 million in its opening weekend. It has received high praise from critics and viewers, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96% and 95% in audience score.

Sony released this highly anticipated sequel to the 2018 release “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.” In its first three days of release in 2018, it collected $35.4 million.

The successful soundtrack had songs like “Sunflower” break streaming records in 2018 on Billboard’s streaming songs chart for the most weeks spent in the top ranks. The movie also won the Academy Award for best animated feature in 2019.

With talks of a sequel, it was only expected that it would blow expectations out of the water and surpass the first movie in every way possible.

Anyone who has watched the new movie can agree that its animation is on another level. In 2018, filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller told the L.A. Times it took four years and 800 people to complete the film.

Out of the many talented animators, a few names stand out, especially that of 14-year-old Preston Mutanga. 

Mutanga runs his own YouTube Channel called “LegoMe_TheOG” where he posts CGI Lego Animations. In January 2023, he posted a recreation of the first trailer of “Across The Spider-Verse” made all in “Lego.”

With the video amassing hundreds of thousands of views, it eventually caught the attention of the film team themselves. Writer-producers of “Across The Spider-Verse” Christopher Miller and Phil Lord also happened to be the directors of “The Lego Movie,” which makes perfect sense.

The directors were looking to put a Lego scene in the movie, so having Mutanga on the team worked well. 

“This looks incredibly sophisticated for a non-adult, nonprofessional to have made,” Miller told the New York Times. “It blew us all away, including some of the best animators in the world.”

Over the course of a couple weeks, Mutanga found himself working on the sequel to “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.” He would work on the animation after completing his homework on school days and over the course of his spring break. Occasionally, he would join a video call with Miller who gave Mutanga guidance on his work. 

Now, hundreds of thousands of people have viewed the 14-year-old’s animation on the big screen. Mutanga’s journey is a true testament to the creative minds of aspiring teens.

Just like Preston Mutanga, everyone has a special talent that they can show the world.

“I know Preston has a gift that was given to him by God,” Mutanga’s mother said in an interview, “and once we identified that he had that gift, all we could do as parents was to nurture it and let him fly.”

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