The concept of the multiverse is a natural fit for sci-fi movie premises, but it’s now expanded beyond that. The last few years have made the multiverse plot device more mainstream than ever across a few subgenres. This month alone has two major blockbusters using it as the crux of their stories, from the widely acclaimed Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse to the forthcoming DC reboot The Flash.
Academy Award juggernaut and indie darling Everything Everywhere All at Once is another shining example of the multiverse gimmick done well in movies. Here are six great multiverse movies you need to watch.
Given how much of the limelight the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes up with its various comic book properties, Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man movies felt like they came out of nowhere — almost as if they had no business being as great as they are.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was widely acclaimed in the story, character, and visual departments. Main character Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) fits seamlessly in the leading role as his universe’s new Wall-Crawler, with his colorful multiversal supporting cast adds to the story’s heartfelt coming-of-age theme. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse manages to match that already high bar, furthering both Miles and Gwen Stacy’s (Hailee Steinfeld) characters while getting even more ambitious with its comic book-like animation.
Into the Spider-Verse is available to stream now on FuboTV, and Across the Spider-Verse is now playing in theaters.
Last year’s Everything Everywhere All at Once was probably the biggest surprise for the best multiverse movie. The universally lauded indie film became one of the most decorated when awards season came around, winning a stunning seven Oscars out of 11 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and nearly all the acting accolades.
Evelyn Quan Wang’s (Michelle Yeoh) story begins as she faces an IRS audit and somehow escalates to stopping a cosmic threat from devastating the multiverse. It’s equal parts thrilling martial arts action, mesmerizing visual effects, and poignant social commentary on mental health and Asian-American identity.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is available to stream now on Showtime.
It seems like much of Spider-Man’s overall theatrical presence has been tied to the multiverse, especially considering next year’s Beyond the Spider-Verse will keep the trend going. But 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home will likely stand as the biggest highlight, capping a wildly lucrative initial trilogy.
The MCU flick built up a daunting level of hype and managed to meet those expectations, revealing the returns of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s respective Spider-Men alongside Tom Holland’s iteration of the hero. No Way Home admittedly relies quite a bit on fan service and nostalgia, but it succeeds in making sure these fan favorites’ special appearances didn’t feel wasted. More importantly, however, they also don’t steal the thunder from Holland’s Peter Parker and his resonating character arc.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is available to stream now on Starz.
The Star Trek franchise is another sci-fi property with decades’ worth of rich history, making the 2009 live-action reboot a bit of a gamble. Star Trek had to take on the challenging balancing act of paying homage to the beloved original TV series while bringing something new to the table.
Rebooting the original cast of the show, with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, the USS Enterprise crew tackles the threat of a time-traveling Romulan aiming to ruin the United Federation of Planets. Ultimately, the movie stands as a rare case of a story having its cake and eating it too in a satisfying fashion. Star Trek uses the multiverse as a plot device to cross over both timelines, but it’s still in service of the greater plot.
Star Trek is available to stream now on Paramount+.
The debut film of director James Ward Byrkit, 2013’s Coherence is a small-scale, but no less exciting sci-fi feature. Revolving around a group of friends who meet for dinner as an unusual comet coincidentally passes by overhead, they begin to notice their lives taking a darker turn.
The barriers between alternate realities become increasingly weaker, leading to an overwhelming sense of dread creeping into the group. Led by Emily Foxler as Em, Coherence is a riveting multiverse-themed thriller for those that want a break from superheroics and legacy sci-fi franchises. Praise was largely given to the movie’s inventive spin on the genre and how convincing the cast’s collective performance was.
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