June 12, 2023

'The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse' - A Groundbreaking Spider-Verse Short Sheds Light on Mental Health

'The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse' - A Groundbreaking Spider-Verse Short Sheds Light on Mental Health

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation showcased its groundbreaking short film, The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story, at the prestigious Annecy International Film Festival. Tackling the sensitive topic of mental health, this boundary-pushing animation spinoff explores the struggles of Marvel Comics' beloved protagonist, Miles Morales/Spider-Man. The short not only delves into the challenges Miles faces but also highlights the significance of strong father-son relationships. With its thought-provoking narrative, The Spider Within captivated the audience at Annecy, composed of emerging animation professionals. 

As the release of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse continues to shatter records, accumulating an impressive $313.3 million (at the time this was written) in box office earnings, The Spider Within arrives as a timely addition to the Spider-Verse. Surpassing the success of its Oscar-winning predecessor from 2018, the sequel's triumph sets the stage for the short film to make an even greater impact.

The Spider Within is the culmination of Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks' joint mentorship initiative, "Leading and Empowering New Storytellers" (LENS). Designed to nurture talents from underrepresented communities, the LENS program assembled an exceptional team of creators for the short film. Director Jarelle Dampier, writer Khalla Amazan, VFX supervisor Clara Chan, and animation supervisor Joe Darko worked in collaboration to bring this powerful story to life. 


Director Jarelle Dampier shared with Deadline, the personal motivation behind The Spider Within, revealing that his own battle with anxiety served as the catalyst for the mental health storyline. Dampier recounted experiencing a severe panic attack upon receiving the opportunity to direct the film as part of the LENS program. Recognizing the prevalent post-pandemic trauma and anxiety felt by many, Dampier aimed to initiate healing conversations through his creation.

By portraying Miles Morales' anxiety attack, the short film opens doors for viewers to relate and engage in discussions about mental health.

During the Annecy presentation, the creative team offered insights into the short film's development and teased an intriguing "easter egg" related to the radioactive Earth-42 spider bite that granted Miles Morales his powers. Dampier disclosed that five hidden references were incorporated into the film for dedicated fans to uncover. 

How Can I Watch The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story?

Although the exact release date for "The Spider Within" is yet to be announced, the enthusiastic response from the Annecy audience foreshadows its potential impact. Director Jarelle Dampier expressed his eagerness to share further details soon, emphasizing that exciting developments are on the horizon. The first Annecy audience were the first individuals outside the production team to view the short film.

The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story marks a groundbreaking endeavor by Sony Pictures Animation, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and shining a light on mental health. Through the lens of Marvel's beloved character, Miles Morales, the short film tackles anxiety and emphasizes the importance of familial bonds. As the Spider-Man franchise continues to captivate audiences worldwide, this thought-provoking animation invites viewers to engage in healing & relatable conversations. I for one can't wait to view this for myself!

Main image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation