How Daniel Pemberton and Metro Boomin swung the Spider-Verse to symphonic success

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulJun 06, 2023 | 08:30

How Daniel Pemberton and Metro Boomin swung the Spider-Verse to symphonic success

In the realm of superhero films, where grandiose orchestral scores have become the norm, Daniel Pemberton's original score for the Spider-Verse, coupled with Metro Boomin’s infectious soundtrack album, is a refreshing and innovative departure. Here’s how the two spin a web of musical mastery in Across the Spider-Verse.

Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K Thompson, the sequel to 2019’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has proven itself as an animated masterpiece that transcends the boundaries of the genre like its predecessor, and its music plays an integral role in capturing the film's vibrancy and distinct visual style.


Renowned for his diverse musical range, English composer Daniel Pemberton boldly embraces the film's narrative of multiple parallel universes colliding with a fusion of various genres. From the film's explosive opening notes, to Gwen’s ‘Def Leppard’ drum solo, it becomes increasingly evident that Pemberton has crafted a score that mirrors the film's energetic and dynamic pace, perfectly complementing the stunning visuals and the web-slinging adventures of the film’s many spiders.

Pemberton's mastery of genre-blending is evident where he seamlessly merges orchestral motifs with electronic textures. The pulsating beats and intricate rhythms create a sense of urgency, perfectly capturing the high-stakes action sequences that define the film. The fusion of orchestral grandeur with contemporary electronic elements feels like a natural progression for superhero scores, and Pemberton's bold experimentation pays off spectacularly.

Pemberton's approach to crafting distinct leitmotifs for each universe featured in Across the Spider-Verse showcases his meticulous attention to detail and ability to capture the essence of each world through music. As Pemberton revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone, he worked on themes for eight different characters' worlds, drawing inspiration from the visually disparate styles of each dimension.


The composition process involved Pemberton immersing himself in the visual styles and techniques of each dimension. By aligning his musical choices with the art direction, Pemberton created a cohesive and immersive experience for the audience. His ability to translate visual elements into musical motifs showcases his deep understanding of the film's aesthetic and his commitment to enhancing the storytelling through music.

Gwen Stacy's world, depicted as a gorgeous emotive watercolor portrait, inspired Pemberton to create a dreamy and slightly abstract palette for her theme. Pemberton captures the essence of Gwen and her dimension with a synth-y, slightly gritty sound, influenced by '90s and 2000s indie pop and grunge.

The cyberpunkian aesthetic of Nueva York 2099 or Miguel O'Hara's world, influenced Pemberton's approach to his theme. O’Hara’s theme reflects the harshness and advanced technology of the dimension through his music. The result is a score that captures the futuristic essence of Miguel's world, with sounds and textures that transport the audience into a cyberspace environment.

Pemberton's ability to adapt his musical style to match the distinct characteristics of each dimension is further exemplified in his approach to the villains' worlds. The Renaissance sketch-inspired Vulture is accompanied by what Pemberton describes as "f***ed up operatic medieval music," capturing the grotesque and off-putting nature of the character. Similarly, The Spot's theme aligns with an eerie and darker tone.


These pieces highlight Pemberton's ability to adapt his musical style to the film's ever-shifting emotional landscape, ensuring that the music is always in sync with the storytelling.

While the score primarily focuses on original compositions, Pemberton skillfully weaves familiar motifs from previous Spider-Man iterations, paying homage to the character's rich cinematic history. These nods to the past serve as a delightful treat for longtime fans while seamlessly integrating with Pemberton's innovative musical vision for the film.

Carrying over from the first part, Miles’ world is rooted in hip-hop culture and includes an unmistakable record scratching that reflects the character's identity and his journey as Spider-Man. By infusing the music with the energy and rhythm of hip-hop, Pemberton brings Miles' world to life, providing a sonic backdrop that resonates with the character's experiences.

By infusing the score with a mix of hip-hop, electronica, and traditional orchestral elements, Pemberton creates a sonic landscape that matches the film's revolutionary animation and heartfelt storytelling. His ability to blend genres, evoke emotion, and adapt to the film's ever-changing tones is a testament to his talent as a composer. 

Pemberton's score not only enhances the viewing experience but also stands on its own as a captivating and exhilarating musical journey. However, it isn’t the score alone that elevated the sonic language for the film.

Leland Tyler Wayne, or more popularly, Metro Boomin, produced the soundtrack album as a perfect complement to the film, seamlessly blending narrative elements and diverse musical styles. With his track record of producing exceptional work, Metro Boomin delivers yet again, exceeding expectations and creating an album that caters to both all ages.

Maintaining a cohesive narrative while allowing the songs to stand on their own is a task that the American producer excels at, masterfully incorporating storytelling elements into the tracks, ensuring that the music not only enhances the movie but also holds its own as a standalone experience. By skillfully intertwining the narrative pressures with the music, Metro Boomin provides a unique listening experience that captures the essence of the Spider-Verse.

The album features an impressive lineup of artists, including Swae Lee, Lil Wayne, Offset, A$AP Rocky, Roisee, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, James Blake, Coi Lerai and Nas. Each collaboration feels organic and serves a purpose within the album, resulting in a cohesive project that highlights the strengths of the individual artists while contributing to the overall narrative of the film.

The album's standout tracks demonstrate Metro Boomin's ability to curate a diverse range of sounds that still feel harmonious. The opening track, ‘Annihilate’, featuring Swae Lee, Lil Wayne, and Offset, immediately sets the tone for the album. 

'Hummingbird,' featuring James Blake, is the soul that the entire album pivots on - its catchy melody showcasing Metro Boomin's ability to slow down the tempo and evoke emotions. 

Coi Lerai's appearance on 'Self Love' elevates the track, adding depth and perspective to the album's narrative as a standout closing track.

The album covers a wide range of styles, but this intentional diversity is one of its strengths. Metro Boomin's production skills shine through as he effortlessly navigates changes in mood and seamlessly blends different sounds. The 47-minute album flows smoothly, providing a captivating listening experience that surpasses many non-soundtrack albums. 

By utilizing the visual platform of the film, Metro Boomin and his impressive cast of collaborators create a brilliant project that showcases their talent and creativity. Its exceptional production, combined with the diverse range of musical styles, results in a soundtrack album that perfectly complements the film and stands as a testament to Metro Boomin’s artistry.

Daniel Pemberton's innovative score and Metro Boomin's captivating soundtrack album have propelled Across the Spider-Verse to unprecedented success. Pemberton's genre-blending and meticulous leitmotif creation demonstrate his talent and commitment to enhancing storytelling through music. Meanwhile, Metro Boomin's production prowess and diverse sound curation create a soundtrack album that complements the film and stands on its own as a sophisticated musical journey.

Together, they have elevated the sonic language of the Spider-Verse, leaving a lasting impact on the superhero genre and film music as a whole. Here’s hoping the two get the well-deserved acclaim for their work come award season. 

Last updated: June 06, 2023 | 08:30
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