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Every Spider-Man film up to this point has told the story of Peter Parker and his various exploits in his familiar red and blue costume. This meant seeing a lot of familiar beats, references to a limited number of comics, and reinterpretations of the characters we’ve grown accustomed to in a Spider-Man film.
Spider-Man: Homecoming did an excellent job at shaking this up, annoying some and thrilling most. Every idea seemed to have been run through a blender, resulting in a sort of remix of everything we know about Spider-Man (we even did an exhaustive piece on all the Easter eggs in that film).
But now, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has taken this concept to a whole other “dimension.” Yes, multiple Spider-Persons means even more references and Easter eggs than ever before and from even more obscure corners of the Spider-Man multiverse! Compiled below is a list of these references (heaviest of SPOILERS). How many do you recognize? And let us know what we missed by tweeting @HeatVisionBlog.
Let’s start with the obvious stuff first:
1. Spider-Verse, Itself
Even during Spider-Man’s earliest days as a character, there have been alternate versions of him. One of the earliest versions of the character to differentiate itself from the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics characterization appeared in the 1967 cartoon. The character would then appear from 1974-1977 on a popular children’s show called The Electric Company, where he would silently dance around and fight against a variety of villains, including a high school student who was turned into a living wall. Even the comics would get in on the game; Marvel launched its new alternate continuity-driven What If? series with a story about a Spider-Man who joined the Fantastic Four (making it the Fantastic Five).
Every now and then, Marvel would refer back to these characters or experiment with the shared multiverse concept in one of its Spider-Man properties, including a pan-dimensional crossover arc called “Spider Wars” in the final two episodes of their ’90s Spider-Man: The Animated Series, led by showrunner John Semper Jr, which debuted in 1998. In said episodes, with “Story by” credit going to Semper and additional writing credits to James Krieg and Mark Hoffmeier, Spider-Man teams up with several alternate dimension versions of himself in order to defeat another alternate Spider-Man who had bonded with the Carnage symbiote. On Facebook, Semper has been loudly asserting his creation of the idea, writing Dec. 12: “For the record,…I created the so-called ‘Spider-Verse.; You’re welcome, Marvel. You’re welcome, Hollywood.”
But, the concept of a shared multiverse was nothing new to Marvel, whether or not that influenced Semper’s story. For a while, Marvel had been playing with the idea of the multiverse and characters that, like Spider-Man, had different versions of themselves teaming up from a variety of dimensions. DC Comics had long been writing stories about their Multiverse, going back as far as a 1953 issue of Wonder Woman. But in Marvel’s The Daredevils No. 6 (1983), written by Alan Moore, the multiverse concept made its formal debut in Marvel Comics. In this case, it was Captain Britain who discovered that, along with a bunch of other Captain Britains, it was his job to guard Marvel’s own Multiverse as part of the Captain Britain Corps.
Additionally, it was in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 339 (1990) that a fan named Monte Michaelis wrote in to posit a new direction for Marvel Comics to take their Spider-Man story: “How about a Spider-Wars? I’ve noticed that after the SECRET WARS, there were quite a few similar stories, such as the Armor Wars and the Mutant Wars.”
He would then go on to suggest that all of the various Spider-characters should team up for a big event book. The editors seemed keen on the idea, responding: “The Spider-Wars, huh? Not a bad idea, especially since some of those characters (such as Madame Web and Spider-Woman) haven’t appeared for a while. What do the rest of you Web-Heads think?”
The Web-Heads responded with a glut of mail on this topic. For months the mail-column in the back of the Amazing Spider-Man book featured fans asking for a Spider-Wars event in the same vein as Marvel’s popular Secret Wars event book, which saw all of their popular characters whisked away to a Battleworld planet where they would… well… battle! These letters even appeared in the issue that featured the debut of the villain Carnage, the very same character that would be the villain of the “Spider Wars” arc on Semper’s television show.
Semper himself has said, “No, I actually didn’t read the comics of the ‘90s and nobody had any great amount of respect for them…. I paid no attention to the Marvel comics.” Who can really say whether the shared name “Spider-Wars” is coincidence or not, but many aspects of the ‘90s comics found their way into the show, including Venom, Carnage, and the Clone Saga.
But, it wasn’t until 2014, that a new Amazing Spider-Man comic writer Dan Slott introduced the unique idea that all of these various Spider-Men, across every conceivable iteration of the character (even a version who appeared in ads to sell fruit pies), were also all a part of the same Multiverse.
Slott tells THR, “My inspiration for Spider-Verse was being hired to be the writer for the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game. I thought their premise was awesome, but it bugged me that (because of the one-player game dynamics) the Spider-Men never got to interact with each other. I actually called my (then) editor, Steve Wacker *from* the Beenox Studios in Quebec and said, ‘We should do this in the comics, but do what they CAN’T do. We should have Spider-Man team-up with EVERY SPIDER-MAN EVER.’ And that’s how the Spider-Verse story arc was born.”
With the publishing of that eventual story, nearly five years later, it became a rule that even characters like the Spider-Man from the 1967 cartoon series could appear in the comics. Never before had the Marvel Multiverse been handled so broadly, bringing in transmedia properties into the comics canon for the first time. The book, titled “Spider-Verse”, even killed off popular iterations of the character from other mediums, including the Spider-Man from the ‘90s cartoon show in Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 3) No. 7. As with any comics creation, including Spider-Man himself, credit for all these things is murky, collaborative, and born of influences both conscious and unconscious.
Out of all of this, the official Marvel Comics “Spider-Verse” was born and through a series of events more complicated than one could easily detail here, the various Spider-Men teamed up to fight back against a force intent on wiping them from the Multiverse. The film clearly draws inspiration from Slott’s interpretation, but the question remains, if Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was being developed around the same time, which came first the comics or the film?
2. Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man?
It seems obvious in hindsight that Sony would position the Spider-Man from its newest film to be the very same character that helped kick off the current comic book film craze we find ourselves in. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse‘s Peter Parker is a lesson-learning, upside-down kissing, train-stopping, car-punching, finger-gunning kind of guy, exactly the same character we met in director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 1-3. We do meet two different versions of him, which seem to diverge in their relative happiness and success, but both seem to share their Tobey origins.
It even came out that Sony was considering casting Tobey Maguire as the voice actor for the character.
3. Miles Morales
Miles was teased in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a possible character that could show up in the live-action series down the road, if Sony and Marvel continue to work together long enough to get to that point. The character was first introduced in the pages of Ultimate Fallout No. 4 back in 2011 and his creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s fingerprints are all over this film.
Miles himself comes from the Ultimate Universe, a universe where a young Peter Parker had adventures for a number of years before ultimately dying at the hands of the Green Goblin. Miles took up the mantle of Spider-Man in Peter’s absence before finding a way over to the standard Marvel universe, where he now fights alongside Peter’s Spider-Man.
Miles’ character was inspired by then-President Barack Obama and Donald Glover, who half-jokingly insisted that he be cast as Peter Parker during Sony’s auditions for the Amazing Spider-Man films. As a biracial superhero, Miles’ inclusion into the Marvel line-up sparked a huge change at the company, leading to numerous other characters of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages to be pushed as their newest leading characters.
Remember that “Spider-Verse” comics story I mentioned earlier? Well, in the build-up to the release of that story, Marvel released a series of single-issue stories called Edge of the Spider-Verse intended to introduce new Spider-characters to readers and gauge their interest, like a Spider-Man-centric What If? series.
In Edge of the Spider-Verse No. 2, writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi introduced the world to Spider-Gwen, whose alternate version of the Spider-Man mythos saw Peter Parker’s death influence the punk-rock drummer Gwen Stacy to become Spider-Woman.
The issue was a sensation before it was even released. Rodriguez and Latour’s unique design for the character’s costume and world took over the comics-section of the Internet, fueling speculation about the character’s future, even before anyone had a chance to read the electric story. Even the creators didn’t know the future for the character, as evidenced by an interview conducted with them the night of the comics’ release. Months later, Spider-Gwen would get her own monthly book, which continued for over three years. Since then she’s been in various cartoons, become an action figure, and now she’s on the silver screen. It’s all kinds of incredible and a demonstration of the incredible flexibility of not only the Spider-Man brand but also the filmmakers behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
5. Spider-Man Noir
Back in 2008, Marvel made a somewhat strange announcement that it would be launching a new continuity/universe called Marvel Noir. Released in 2009, Marvel Noir remixed a number of Marvel’s most beloved heroes to become pulp-fiction/noir characters who engaged in violent actions and detective thrillers set in the 1930s.
The most prominent of these stories was Spider-Man Noir, a comic that cast Peter Parker as the apprentice of reporter Ben Urich. One day he’s bitten by a venomous spider that gives him mystical spider-powers because of, well, its association with a series of spider-statues. Really, the less you worry about this, the better.
After the death of his (you guessed it) Uncle Ben and Ben Urich, Peter goes on a one-man revenge mission that tears through the ranks of Norman Osborn’s crime syndicate. It’s a violent and bloody affair, with a cannibalistic Vulture, and a lot of black leather. The issues themselves weren’t terribly well-received by fans and critics, but the costume and idea of a noir-oriented Spider-Man still found a way to stick in fans’ and creators’ minds.
Spider-Man Noir has since appeared in a number of additional adaptations, including the popular Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game, which cast him as one of the main characters.
No one has really ever sought to answer the question of Porky Pig’s origins and how he learned to talk, so the less said about Spider-Ham’s origins is probably best. However, his exact physiological makeup would probably catch you off-guard, because he started his life as a spider who was bitten by an irradiated pig, May Porker to be exact.
Is he a spider with the limitations of a pig? Or a pig with the proportionate strength and agility of a spider? Who really knows? All we do know is that he’s become something greater than either spider or pig… he’s become a Spider-Ham!
First appearing in Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham No. 1, by writer Tom DeFalco and artist Mark Armstrong, Peter Porker lives in the Larval Earth, an anthropomorphic universe featuring animal alternatives of popular Marvel heroes and villains, including: Captain Americat, Hulk-Bunny, Raven the Hunter, Ducktor Doom, Bull-Frog, J. Jeremiah Jackal, Jr., Deerdevil, Goose Rider, the Fantastic Fur, the Sub-Merchandizer, and so on.
He eventually received his own bi-monthly series, titled Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, which ran for 17 issues, and continues to pop up here and there in the comics, most recently as Spider-Gwen’s imaginary guardian angel, of sorts.
The most surprising inclusion in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse‘s cast is none other than Peni Parker as Sp//dr, an anime-inspired mech-robot piloted by a little girl and her pet spider, with whom she shares a mental link, allowing her to pilot her Sp//dr robot. Just like Spider-Gwen, she was introduced in the pages of Edge of the Spider-Verse, but she never really caught on in the same way.
The big push behind her character at the time was that the book was being written by Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance and writer of Umbrella Academy, with art by Jake Wyatt and colors by Ian Herring. The character has since had a few cameos and another comic to continue her story as a struggling high schooler who has to fight giant monsters and robots at night, keep her Aunt May and Uncle Ben safe, and live up to her deceased father’s legacy as the original pilot of Sp//dr.
Very few comic book movies have ever tried to actually look like the medium that inspired them, much to my dismay. Even fewer do it successfully, I’m looking at you Ang Lee’s Hulk…
But in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse this comic book styling is nothing short of a revelation, as if all along this is how these movies should have looked. Here we’ve got word balloons, thought bubbles, paneling, and so much more. Of special note is Miles’ admission, after he gets bit by the spider, that he can see his internal thoughts as narration blocks and that he’s become very stuck in his own head. For fans of Spider-Man comics, this is especially funny considering that there is no character in comics more stuck in his own head than Spider-Man, resulting in pages stuffed full of narration blocks. Even the foreign language translations are handled the same as in the comics, with < > characters.
Also interesting to note are the Ben-Day dots that make up the characters themselves. Named after illustrator and printer Benjamin Henry Day Jr., these dots are used to create the various colors on the pages of older comic books. Here they are used for texture, but also feature prominently during the final battle between the Spider-Men and Kingpin’s forces. As the world twists, turns and melts around them, Miles and the Kingpin fight inside of the very Ben-Day dots that make up their bodies.
But that’s not all, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also sports the commonly seen off-register printing errors from older comics. Comics’ colors used to be quite limited, hence everyone wearing red and blue, and the colors had to be printed one at a time. The colors would have to overlap each other precisely, but they would often not and end up “out of register.” You can see this effect throughout the film, with reds and blues leaking out of either side of characters, especially during the earliest moments in the film.
Now that we’ve got the obvious stuff out of the way, let’s dive into some of the more specific references and obscurities that appear in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
9. Comics Code Authority
As soon as the Marvel logo fades a familiar stamp appears onscreen, reading “Approved by the Comics Code Authority.” Older comic fans will remember this appearing on the covers of their books until Marvel ditched the image in 2001.
The Comics Code Authority (CCA) was a form of self-regulation by comics publishers, as a way to avoid complicated government regulation. Stoked by the cries of psychologist Frederick Wertham, who suggested that the books were harmful to children and the root cause of juvenile delinquency, a series of Senate hearings moved the comics industry to create this self-governing authority.
The authority banned horror and monster books, keeping those characters out of the Marvel universe for quite awhile. They also banned depictions of drug use and gore. This eventually came to a head in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 96 and 97, when Stan Lee chose to depict Harry Osborn taking LSD as an anti-drug statement. The CCA refused to give him approval so he just printed the comics without their stamp anyway, in a move that struck a blow large enough that the authority was essentially rendered largely without authority.
Were you the other guy in my theater laughing out loud to this obscure callback?
10. Erik Larsen Art
Fans of ’90s Spider-Man comics will immediately recognize the artwork of Erik Larsen inside one of the earliest comics they flip through. As someone who went on to found Image Comics and who has been writing/drawing Savage Dragon for over twenty-five years, his art has become quite iconic since his time drawing Spider-Man. Fans of his work on the character typically remember him for depicting some of Spider-Man’s earliest battles with Venom. He’s also the guy that added Venom’s long tongue to the design. I can’t be sure, but the artwork featured here seems to be pulled directly from the pages of Spider-Man No. 15, a team-up comic between Spider-Man and the X-Man named Beast.
11. Real Spider-Man Comics
In Miles Morales’ universe, Spider-Man has existed for a long time. Long enough that they started printing comics about him. It is kind of strange to see superheroes and comics about them intersect, but it isn’t totally without precedent. Even early issues of Fantastic Four had the denizens of Marvel’s New York City reading comics about the real-life adventures of the super-team.
In this world, those comics are called “True Life Stories of Spider-Man” but many of them are real issues of Marvel comics with their titles replaced. Here are the ones I was able to identify:
Amazing Spider-Man No. 186
This comic appears when Spider-Man is laying out his complicated backstory. Released in 1978, the comic tells a story where Spider-Man battles the shape-shifting Chameleon, after being cleared of any wrongdoing in regards to the deaths of George Stacy, Gwen Stacy, and Norman Osborn.
Amazing Fantasy No. 15
Spider-Man’s first appearance was also the final issue of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s anthology series Amazing Fantasy. Fan reception and sales were so strong on this issue, which told the story of Peter Parker’s origins and the death of his Uncle Ben, that they gave Spider-Man his very own ongoing series, The Amazing Spider-Man. That series is still running to this day, over 800 issues later. This issue can be seen, with its Jack Kirby illustrated cover, in Miles’ dorm room, when he decides to do “research.” The interior pages of this book have been redrawn to match John Romita Sr.’s style, but don’t totally match the look of the original comic.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 40
This issue appears in a stack of comics in Miles’ room and later when his roommate is reading it. What’s notable about this issue is that it is the story that marks the defeat of the Green Goblin for the first time after Peter and Norman discover their secret identities in Amazing Spider-Man No. 39. This two-part story marked the departure of Spider-Man’s co-creator Steve Ditko from the title, replacing him with illustrator John Romita Sr. It’s recognizable by its cover, featuring Spider-Man standing over a defeated Green Goblin, surrounded by flames.
Amazing Spider-Man No. 7
We get a good clean look at this issue, “The Vulture’s Return,” the first Spider-Man comic to feature a returning villain. In it, the Vulture breaks out of prison by rebuilding his flying technology. He injures Spider-Man and demands the payroll from The Daily Bugle. Eventually, Spider-Man defeats him and goes to canoodle with his then love-interest Betty Brant.
12. Spider-Man ’67
During our introduction to Spider-Man, we get a huge recap of all the various things that our hero has been up to. At one point he mentions that they made a cartoon out of him and a theme song. That cartoon is the very same one that first introduced Spider-Man to the non-comics-reading world in 1967.
Produced by Grantray-Lawrence Animation for its first season, the show was notable for following the comics relatively closely, albeit with a small budget and visuals that left a lot to be desired (including webs on Spider-Man’s costume). Paul Soles was the first to voice Spider-Man, with a gruff and powerful tone that makes the character a bit unique. Animation-buffs will be amused to know that Krantz Films, run by legendary animator Ralph Bakshi, produced the second and third seasons of the show, as the budget was further reduced, forcing the team to reuse animation from other shows to complete it. The most memorable thing that the show produced was the Spider-Man theme song that has been so lovingly reproduced over the years, whether it be in the Sam Raimi movies or for the score of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Even Kingpin sings his own version of the song during the film.
13. Spidey O’s
Early on, Spider-Man brags that he’s been a breakfast cereal and he’s not incorrect. While it wasn’t named “Spidey O’s,” in 1995 cereal-maker Ralston introduced a cereal that promised: “One bite and you’ll get caught up in all the action of Spider-Man cereal.” It was advertised as a tie-in to Spider-Man: The Animated Series and is described as a “Sweetened rice cereal with crunchy ‘spider-webs’ with exciting marshmallow shapes!” What kind of shapes, you might ask? Well, there were Spider Symbols, the Evil Kingpin, Hobgoblin’s Pumpkin Bomb, and Photographer Peter Parker’s Camera!
14. Spider-Man Popsicle
We’ve all been there. You hear that familiar jingle coming down your street. ICE CREAM! You rush out the door, run to the ice cream truck, get out your dollar, and stare straight into the bubblegum eyes of Spider-Man.
Who could forget the Spider-Man popsicle that’s become a mainstay of ice cream trucks? Well, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse didn’t, that’s for sure. Spidey calls attention to his popsicle just in time before it melts. Even Stan Lee agreed that the popsicles are important.
15. Miles Loves DC Comics?
Look, just because you love Marvel comics doesn’t mean you can’t also like those of the Distinguished Competition (DC Comics) as well. That’s certainly true for Miles because if you look behind his drawing board you can see Superman’s boots and cape peaking out. He’s also got some kind of construction paper Batman.
16. Isotopic Genome Accelerator
The movies have shown a variety of different ways that Peter was bitten by the spider that would ultimately turn him into Spider-Man, but fans of the comic know the one true way it happened in Amazing Fantasy No. 15. Lonely science-nerd Peter Parker attended an exhibit on radioactivity and was watching a particular exhibit about radiation, using an isotopic genome accelerator, when fate struck. A spider descended on its web between the radioactive blasts and in its dying actions bit the hand of Peter Parker, setting this whole drama into motion. So it is especially neat that when we are finally introduced to the giant universe melding machine/particle accelerator at the heart of this Spider-Verse adventure it looks exactly like a giant version of the isotopic genome accelerator from the comics.
Even better, the same dramatic action kicks off both stories. Then: a spider enters the beam, triggering the events that would turn Pete into Spider-Man. Now: a Spider(Man) enters the beam, triggering the events that would assemble the Spider-Men of the multiverses.
It’s like poetry.
Did you think that Oscorp was the only fictional, evil organization in the Spider-Man multiverse? Well, then you thought wrong.
Meet Alchemax, an evil megacorporation originally introduced in the pages of Spider-Man 2099 No. 1. They are basically Amazon but taken to a whole other level. They manufacture products for every single consumer need and even have an entire city that’s controlled by their own private police force, the Public Eye. Cross them and you are crossing the entire city, not to mention opening up your bank account to suddenly be emptied or leveraged against you.
All of this is told in the confines of the Marvel 2099 imprint, which posits one possible future for the Marvel Universe. That future would eventually be spun off as its own universe, but within it were dozens of updated, variants on the superheroes and villains readers were familiar with from the regular Marvel comics. The most notable being Spider-Man 2099.
In 2013, writer Dan Slott decided to lay the seeds for the creation of Alchemax, formerly Allan Chemical, in the pages of his popular Superior Spider-Man series. There we saw that the company was interested in advanced R&D of a devious nature and was secretly being controlled by Norman Osborn, after his own Osborn Industries/Oscorp was forced into bankruptcy due to his actions as the Green Goblin.
In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Alchemax matches a lot of Slott’s characterization and lays the seeds for Spider-Man 2099’s inclusion into this series. We spend a significant amount of time with the Spider-Men breaking into the labs, escaping the labs, and working with Alchemax’s not-entirely-safe technologies.
18. Wilson Fisk
Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe know Wilson Fisk, aka “The Kingpin,” as Daredevil’s main antagonist, but he actually originated as a Spider-Man villain. Springing out of the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 50, which was heavily adapted into Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, Kingpin has long been a thorn in Spider-Man’s side.
So, it is no surprise or Easter egg that he’s included here. What is so interesting about the Kingpin’s inclusion is his appearance. His screen-filling shoulders immediately bring to mind the designs of Bill Sienkiewicz, specifically his work in the 1986 Marvel Graphic Novel Daredevil: Love and War where Kingpin’s body is allowed to fill practically every page of the book. There’s no mistaking the signature design of the character, which only serves to highlight the advantages that animation can bring to adapting Marvel characters.
19. Lady Octopus
With a name like Olivia “Liv” Octavius, it was only a matter of time until she donned four extra limbs and started calling herself Doctor Octopus. However, the Doc Ock of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is far from the first female version of the character.
The first Lady Octopus was Carolyn Trainer, a protegee of the Otto Octavius who took up his tentacles after he was killed, the first time. She would go on to have numerous battles with the Scarlet Spider (more on him in a bit), all in her quest to merge reality and virtual reality together. Since then, there have been a number of alternate universe Doctor Octopi, including a heroic Doctor Octopus named Octavia Otto.
20. What If?
When we first meet Olivia “Liv” Octavius she’s breaking down all the details about the various multiverses to the Kingpin, but she refers to each of them as “What If” scenarios in a clear reference to the classic What If? Marvel comics series.
21. Donald Glover
Way back before Andrew Garfield was cast as Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man films, comedian/actor/rapper Donald Glover started a social media campaign to get himself cast as the character in the upcoming series. #Donald4Spiderman trended on Twitter, but it wasn’t to be.
As a main castmember on NBC’s Community, Glover decided to have some fun with the huge social media campaign he started. During the season premiere he can be seen waking up in bed, wearing a full-body Spider-Man costume. But, that wasn’t the end of it. When Miles debuted in Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man television show they went to Glover and asked him to portray the character’s voice, locking him in as the first official voice for the character. Glover would go on to play Aaron Davis, Miles’ uncle, in Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s memorable interrogation scene. Finally, Glover was cemented into Spider-Man lore, even if he wasn’t playing Spider-Man himself. To continue the joke, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brings back the clip of Glover in Spider-Man pajamas. Just as Miles enters his Uncle Aaron’s apartment, you can see Donald Glover’s scene from “Community” playing on the television.
22. Spider “42”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is so disinterested in the origin stories for its characters that it only briefly and obscurely suggests why a random spider with the number “42” on its back is able to give Miles a unique brand of spider-powers. Viewers can draw their own conclusions, but it appears to have come from Alchemax’s underground facility and it’s glitching suggests that it came from another dimension (like say, 2099).
The answers come in the comics, but they are equally unsatisfying. In Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man (vol. 2) No. 1 we learn that months before Peter Parker’s death Norman Osborn was working on perfecting his Oz formula, a concoction that he’d been testing on animals, one of which bit Peter and gave him his powers. Osborn had been unsuccessful in replicating the results, so he tried the formula on new types of spiders, the forty-second of which was the spider that would bite Miles.
For a while, Norman Osborn was presumed dead and his labs fell into disrepair. That’s when Miles’ Uncle Aaron, dressed as The Prowler, decided to break into Oscorp to steal tech for himself. What he didn’t realize was that a spider hopped into his bag for a ride back to his apartment where fate united it with a young Miles. For some time, the comics would focus on that number, “42,” but nothing would ultimately come of it. By now, most fans have accepted it as another dangling, unanswered question that writer Brian Michael Bendis never answered. Will the movies do the same? Are there forty-one other spiders out there?
We get several other references to “42” in the film, including a moment where Miles first tries to jump across buildings, only to trip on his shoelace. When he lands, after falling through a marquee, the numbers 4 and 2 appear on the ground beside him. Ouch!
Back in our dimension, “42” has a wholly separate, metatextual meaning which Bendis has confirmed was intentional. Jackie Robinson, the first Black player to play Major League Baseball wore the number 42 on the back of his jersey. Miles, hardly the first Black or Latino superhero, is the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man and Bendis referenced this number to pay tribute to Robinson while acknowledging Miles’ own legacy on the pages of Marvel Comics and now the silver screen.
23. Brooklyn Visions Academy
Brooklyn Visions Academy is a fictional, elite, charter school in the Ultimate Marvel universe that Miles gains attendance to after winning the last spot in a lottery, essentially providing him a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get a world-class education. For Miles, this means a certain degree of freedom, as he’s living away from his parents, but also a unique layer of responsibilities as Spider-Man, as the academy has a strict curfew, roommates, and a no-tolerance policy. We never really got to see too much of the school in the various comics that Miles is in, as most of his stories got sidetracked into his superheroics, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse helps to flesh out how Miles fits in at a school like this… he doesn’t.
Also, is it just me, or is the font used for the school the same font used for the Sony logo?
One of the best things about any Miles Morales comic is his best friend and partner in crime, Ganke Lee. Ganke, a Korean American student, is the first to learn about Miles’ secret and becomes his “man in the chair,” LEGO collecting buddy, and sometimes loose-lipped foil. Sound familiar?
That’s because in Spider-Man: Homecoming they rebranded the Ganke Lee character as Ned Leeds and made him into Peter’s best friend. It was a pretty confusing move, one sure to create confusion if and when a Miles live-action movie came out.
Now, we live in that future and we have a character that looks like Ganke in Miles’ roommate. But the film never names him, other than “roommate.” Can we assume that this is Ganke Lee or will the filmmakers remain name-shy in future stories to avoid the inevitable confusion this might cause? Either way, Miles’ universe will always feel incomplete without the lovable Ganke Lee.
25. Miles Morales’ Phone Contacts
When Miles takes out his phone we get a brief glimpse into some of his contacts. The most obvious two are “B. Bendis” and “Sara Pichelli,” obviously referring to his two creators (Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli). Would calling them be like calling god?
Extra quick, spider-like eyes will also spot “D. Slott” for Dan Slott, the writer who invented the “Spider-Verse,” and “Jason Reynolds,” who wrote the novel Miles Morales: Spider-Man.
26. Jefferson Davis’ Phone Contacts
Miles’ father might not be as connected as his son, but keen eyes can spot a contact on his phone named “S. Ditko” for Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man.
27. Uncle Aaron
Miles’ Uncle Aaron is incredibly similar to his comics counterpart. He’s a supervillain/thief at night and a charming, if distracting, uncle to his nephew. His villain name is The Prowler, a character based on another vigilante with the same name from the regular Marvel Universe. That Prowler is a young kid named Hobie Brown who starts off as a villain inspired by Spider-Man and eventually becomes Spidey’s ally, even impersonating him for Peter’s gain on a number of occasions.
The biggest difference between Into the Spider-Verse‘s depiction of Uncle Aaron and the version from the comics is their influence on Miles. In the film, Aaron is a misguided adult who realizes before his death the error of his ways and his influence on Miles, ultimately unknowingly sacrificing himself to protect his nephew’s identity, telling him “You’re the best of us.”
In the comics, Uncle Aaron is a deliberately bad influence on Miles, who tries to manipulate the kid and use his powers to help him with his own robberies. Miles is ultimately forced to take action against his uncle and inadvertently causes his death. In his final moments, Aaron suggests to Miles that his father isn’t the good cop that he thinks he is and pushes Miles to head down a darker path, suggesting that evil and villainy is in his nature.
28. “You’re Like Me”
When Spider-Man discovers that Miles also has Spider-Sense he says the fateful line: “You’re like me.” It’s that simple moment of humanity that bonds all these characters together; that, despite their obvious differences, they are the same. Every time they meet a new Spider-Man, they repeat this line first.
In the comics, this line meant something entirely different. In the pages of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man No. 12, Uncle Aaron and Miles get into a fight that results in Aaron’s gauntlet exploding, causing his death. But just before he dies he tells Miles, “You’re like me.” These words would go on to haunt Miles throughout the entire run of his comic, as he constantly finds himself fighting to live a different life than that of his formerly criminal father and uncle but also wrestling with their pasts and their influence on his life.
29. Green Goblin Hulk Design
In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the Green Goblin appears as Hulk-like figure and totally unlike any of his previous filmic appearances. This design springs forth from the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man as drawn by Mark Bagley, where Norman Osborn injected himself with his own Oz formula in order to replicate the effects it had on Peter Parker. The decision backfires, killing most of his staff, fusing Doctor Octopus to his tentacles, and turning Osborn into a giant green figure that can throw fireballs and is generally insane. The design is moderately controversial amongst fans, so in the film they’ve melded him with some older versions, giving him a purple Goblin cap and wings!
30. The Death of Spider-Man
The defining moment in Miles’ journey to become the new Spider-Man in the comics occured when he witnessed Peter Parker’s death. The same is true in the film, where Miles speaks to his universe’s Peter right before he is murdered by the Kingpin.
In the Ultimate Universe, things play out a bit differently. There, Peter dies while saving Aunt May and Mary Jane from the Hulked-up Green Goblin. Readers later learned that Miles was on the scene, watching from the shadows, but was unwilling and unable to use his powers and burgeoning courage to stop what was happening. In this way, Peter Parker becomes like Miles’ own Uncle Ben, where Miles’ inaction cost the life of someone important and taught him the greatest lesson. The same is true here. Miles considers acting, but ultimately backs down.
You might not recognize him, because he’s making his film debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but the albino man who operates as one of Kingpin’s henchmen is the lesser-known Spider-Man villain named Tombstone. Debuting in Web of Spider-Man No. 36, he started out as a non-powered crime lord with teeth filed into points, but eventually he would gain super strength and impenetrability, akin to Luke Cage. The best detail about this new version of Tombstone is that he’s voiced by Marvin Jones III, also known as Krondon, who is also an African-American with albinism.
32. Blonde Spider-Man
When the film unmasks the first Peter Parker, voiced by Chris Pine, we discover that he doesn’t have the typical brown hair we expect from Peter. Yes, he’s a blonde and contrary to popular opinion he’s not having more fun… he dies moments later. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a blonde Peter Parker. Back in the 1970s Peter was cloned by the villain The Jackal and forced to fight his clone. At the end of the battle, only one Spider-Man survived. Who could say if he was the clone or the original Peter?
It wasn’t until the 90s that this question was resolved. It turns out that the other Peter had survived and was living a life as “Ben Reilly,” canvassing the country and stopping crimes, until fate inevitably brought him back to New York.
In order to differentiate himself from “our” Peter, Ben Reilly died his hair blonde and wore a distinctly different Spider-Man costume. The following drama would play out in “The Clone Saga” and would take a series of textbooks to explain. Suffice it to say, Ben turned out to just be a clone and the Peter we’d been following for thirty years remained the real deal.
33. Peter’s Funeral
In the pages of Ultimate Fallout, readers experienced the funeral services for Peter Parker, as financed by Tony Stark. Against Aunt May’s wishes, ceremonies were held for the public at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Miles, feeling guilty about his inaction, attends the funeral only to bump into Gwen Stacy. He asks Gwen why Peter was Spider-Man and learns about Uncle Ben and the lesson of “power” and “responsibility.”
Peter’s funeral in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse takes place at the exact same church, except this time it is Mary Jane who is eulogizing Peter before the gathered public.
Early in the film, Spider-Man mentions that he has a Spider-Buggy and we eventually see it on display in his lair. In the comics, Spider-Man got a Spider-Mobile, which looks identical to the one in the film. A company called Corona Motors hires the advertising firm Carter & Lombardo to build a Spider-Mobile and as part of the process they reach out to Spider-Man to see if he’d want to lend some of his fame to help promote the car. Spider-Man initially turns down the offer. Peter doesn’t even have a driver’s license, but he ultimately changes his mind when he realizes he can pay his rent with the money he’d earn.
In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 141, Spider-Man and the Human Torch are able to finish work on the Spider-Mobile and during Peter’s first time driving it he crashes the car into the East River and cannot find it to repair it.
In Amazing Spider-Man No. 160, titled “My Killer, The Car!,” Mysterio tricks Spider-Man into battling the car after it reappears. Spider-Man defeats the car and, sick of its tricks, returns the vehicle to Carter & Lombardo, keen on never seeing it again. Eventually, writer Dan Slott had Spider-Man learn to drive and build his own Spider-Mobile as part of his international company, Parker Industries. This car could transform into a giant spider-robot of sorts.
Also, in the original “Spider-Verse” story, a sentient Spider-Mobile returns from another universe where it is known as Peter Parkedcar.
In the underground Spider-Cave we get to see that Peter and May have outfitted a bike to match the Spider-Buggy. Peter never owned a Spider-Cycle that looked quite like that in the comics, though during the Parker Industries run in Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 4) he did build a bike to match his new Spider-Mobile.
The design for the bike in the film is modeled after a “Spider-Man Wheelie Cycle” toy that was created to advertise the 90s Spider-Man: The Animated Series. All you had to do was pull back on the toy and it would zoom off into the furthest corners of your bedroom, never to be seen again.
36. The Mary Janes
When we get the briefest glimpse of Times Square in Spider-Gwen’s universe you can clearly see a billboard for The Mary Janes, the fictional band for which Gwen Stacy is the drummer, Mary Jane Watson is the singer/lead guitarist, Glory Grant is on keyboard, and Betty Brant plays bass.
Their signature song, “Face it Tiger” was even recorded as a real-life single.
When Miles meets the alternate universe Spider-Man/Peter Parker, he asks the question “Can there be two Spider-Men?”. As if to answer him, the film slaps a comic down on the screen that reads, “Spider-Men.” This was also the name of the series where for the first time Peter Parker from the original Marvel universe and Miles Morales met. It was created by Miles’ creators, Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, who are credited by name on the cover of the in-movie comic. That said, the cover of the in-movie comic is original for the film and not a reference to an actual Spider-Men comic.
38. Universe Numbers
In Marvel’s comics, their different universes are typically designated as various Earths with a number. For example, the standard Marvel universe is Earth-616. When we do see the controls for the dimensional portal in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse we do get to see some of the portal numbers and they completely line up with their comics counterparts. The numbers shown are as such:
616 – Marvel Prime, the standard Marvel Universe
90214 – Marvel Noir, home to Spider-Man Noir
1610 – Ultimate Marvel, home to Ultimate Peter Parker and Miles Morales
14512 – Home to Peni Parker, Sp//dr
8311 – Larval Earth, home to Spider-Ham
39. Stan Lee
There’s no way to miss Stan Lee’s cameo in this film, as he’s the one that sells Miles his first Spider-Man costume. What’s notable about this version of Lee is that it’s his first posthumous role and it serves as the perfect representation of him: a loveable salesman and the best advocate for the reason Spider-Man is for everyone, “The costume always fits.” Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that when Miles and Peter collapse on the sidewalk after their madcap train/dead body chase, it is Stan Lee who steps over their bodies.
40. Store-Bought Costume
When Miles needs a costume, he knows the fastest way to get one, short of sewing his own, is to buy a store-bought costume. The same exact scenario plays out in the first comic Miles ever appeared in, Ultimate Fallout No. 4.
The issue introduces a new person dressing in a store-bought Spider-Man costume, shortly after the death of Peter Parker. This new Spider-Man swings onto the scene to defeat the villainous Kangaroo. When the fight is over the onlookers suggest that wearing a Spider-Man costume after the death of Peter is in rather poor taste. That’s when Miles pulls off his mask, revealing his face to readers for the first time, and agrees with the sentiment. Just like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse he doesn’t feel like he can fill the shoes of Spider-Man.
41. The Spider Chest Logo
Spider-Man has sported several different chest logos in the shape of a spider over the years. Every film seems to change it up and each artist has their own unique take. However, the one featured in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the exact logo drawn by Mark Bagley for his Ultimate Spider-Man series.
The logo on the chest of Sp//dr comes directly from the MK IV suit that Spider-Man wears during Amazing Spider-Man vol. 4.
42. Ultimate Peter’s Age
When we witness Ultimate Peter’s funeral the film is sure to say that he was 26 years old when he died. Yet, when we see his grave it reads “1991-2018.” This means that he hadn’t yet reached his birthday in 2018, which would have seen him become 27 years old. This makes sense because his funeral occurs in the early Fall season and when Miles visits his grave it is covered in snow.
This is canonically accurate because Peter Parker’s official birthday is October 14th. Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared October 14th a holiday in New York City: Spider-Man Day. You can even read the proclamation here.
43. MJ Wants a Child
Early on, we discover that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse‘s unique version of Peter Parker has separated from his Mary Jane because she wanted a child and he just wasn’t ready. It is through his journey with Miles that changes his mind and decides that he is ready to be a father. But, Peter has also toyed with fatherhood in the comics as well.
In the pages of Spectacular Spider-Man No. 220 readers and Peter discover that MJ is pregnant with his child. But, as soon as the writers introduced this wrinkle into Peter’s life, intending to replace the character with Ben Reilly and send Peter into retirement with MJ to raise the child, the fans revolted. They rejected the idea that Ben Reilly was the original Spider-Man and not a clone and demanded that Peter come out of retirement.
Now the writers were in a pickle, they had a pregnant MJ and a character they didn’t want to be a father, because they thought it would age Peter Parker as a character. So, they had a character named Alison Mongrain, acting on the behalf of Norman Osborn, poison MJ’s food, ultimately provoking her into premature labor and resulting in a stillborn birth.
But for some fans, the idea that Peter and Mary Jane could have had a child was still a rich story to be told. So, the same writer who ended the child’s life brought her back to life, alongside artist Ron Frenz, for the fan-favorite Spider-Girl series. That series followed Mayday Parker, the daughter of a combat-wounded Peter Parker and Mary Jane Parker. The series ran for more than 100 issues, an incredibly rare feat for a spin-off book, and the character remains a favorite to this day. I would expect to see her in the recently announced all-female spin-off of Into the Spider-Verse.
Even today, there continue to be new stories and universes invented that dive into the “What If?” of Peter and MJ’s child. A new series called Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows imagines what it would mean for Peter, MJ, and their daughter Annie to fight as a crime-fighting Spider-team.
44. “Anyone Can Wear the Mask”
In 2014, writer and Miles Morales’ co-creator Brian Michael Bendis gave a TEDx Talk about his work in the comics industry. One of the most memorable elements of his speech was talking about how he created Miles Morales and the idea that Spider-Man is so beloved because you can’t see his skin when he’s wearing his costume. From that idea, Bendis posits that the appeal is “Anyone can wear the mask.”
That exact sentiment is stated in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which shouldn’t be a surprise because he’s an Executive Producer on the project. But, it is so special to see these exact words become not only a statement in the film but the core theme of this major motion picture.
45. Marvel Zombies
When Miles takes the seemingly-resurrected Peter back to his dorm room he asks him, “Are you a zombie?” Perhaps this is a reference to the Marvel Zombies comic, written by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead. This story told of another alternate universe (Earth-2149) where nearly all the Marvel superheroes have been infected with a zombie-virus, including Spider-Man.
46. Brand-New Spider-Gwen Comic
When we finally get the backstory to Spider-Gwen, including a quick flash through her origin story, we get to see a comic with her name on it. The comic reads “Spider-Gwen No. 65″ but fans of the series will know that the title only ran for forty issues. No doubt, the “65” refers to the name of the dimension she comes from: Earth-65. The original Gwen Stacy debuted in 1965, hence the designation for that particular universe.
But even more interesting is that the cover to the issue was lifted from a variant cover to Spider-Gwen No. 1 drawn by the writer of her series Jason Latour. Plus, her co-creators Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi’s names appear on the cover! I was especially excited to see colorist Rico Renzi’s pink-colored skies from the comic be faithfully reproduced in the film.
After meeting Spider-Gwen for the first time, Miles asks, “How many Spider-Men are there?”
Peter responds, “Save it for Comic-Con.” I guess it is nice to see that even in the Marvel multiverse people still enjoy Comic Con.
48. Imagine That…Comics
There are no What If? comics in this Spider-Man universe, so the filmmakers have created their own version of the classic Marvel series and called it Imagine That… If you look closely at a comic that Miles’ roommate is reading when all the Spider-Men are trying to hide from him, you can see that this particular comic asks “Imagine That… There Was More Than One Spider-Man.” If you look even closer you can see what looks like Spider-Man in his black suit costume, a depiction of Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), and a Hulk-like Spider-Man. None of these exist in the comics, but they are fun to see nevertheless.
49. Energized Spider-Man!
On the back of that fictional Imagine That… comic is a real-life ad for a Spider-Man toy from 1979. The toymaker Remco released a large Spider-Man doll that featured Spider-Sense and a climbable web that could also be used to lift things. You could also order a Spider-Copter to help you hunt down suggested villains like the “Red Dragon,” who looks identical to the Spider-Man villain named White Dragon. I guess we all can’t be 100% on our Spider-Man lore. Either way, the advertisement in the film is the exact advertisement as it appeared in the comics.
50. Vanessa and Richard Fisk
The Kingpin’s main goal in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is to open a dimensional portal so that he can find alternate versions of his wife and child, Vanessa and Richard Fisk.
In a brief flashback, we see Kingpin standing over a defeated Spider-Man, ready to kill him, when Vanessa and Richard walk into the room. Vanessa scolds her husband, saying that if he were to go through with his actions and continue with his life of crime that she would take her son and leave. When they do eventually leave, fleeing in a car, they both perish in a car crash, or so we are led to believe.
A nearly identical scene plays out in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 197. Wilson Fisk is set to pulverize Spider-Man, after the two engage in a knockdown, drag-out fight. But, Vanessa enters the room and tells Wilson that she’ll leave him if he continues. Ultimately, that Kingpin relents and lets Spider-Man go.
51. Peter Reconnects With Aunt May
It was inevitable that the Spider-Men would eventually find their way back to Aunt May’s home in Forest Hills. When they arrive it suddenly becomes an opportunity for Peter Parker to reconnect with a version of his deceased Aunt, who just recently lost her own nephew. The moment is tender and powerful and not the first time this has happened.
Nearly the exact same moment takes place in Spider-Men No. 3, as Peter Parker and Miles visit the home of the deceased Ultimate Peter Parker. In this instance things are a bit different because this version of Peter died at the age of sixteen and the Peter from the regular Marvel Universe is nearly 28 years old. Nevertheless, meeting another Peter Parker allows Aunt May to see what her son could have grown up to become.
When Aunt May takes Peter and Miles down in the Spider-Cave one of the first things they do is explore all the costumes that fill the space. The following are the names and origins for the costumes on display there:
This suit debuted this year as the main suit for Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4. The white-spider logo is taken from the original black suit/Venom design. In the context of the game the spider provides reinforced protection for Spidey’s chest.
In the comic What If? No. 19, we get a story called “What if Spider-Man had stopped the Burglar Who Killed His Uncle?,” though the cover reads “What If Spider-Man had never become a crimefighter?” Essentially, Spider-Man stops the burglar and lands in showbiz, never learning his fateful lesson. He dons a cape, which is what makes this costume distinct, and becomes an enormous jerk, ultimately costing a number of major characters their lives.
In Amazing Spider-Man No. 425, Spider-Man decides he’s done being humiliated by Electro. So he recruits the X-Men and dons a new insulated, padded suit to take down the electrified villain.
MK I Suit
In the pages of Web of Spider-Man No. 100, Spider-Man dons a brand new metallic-alloy suit that slows him down, making him less agile, but allows him to become bulletproof. The suit was destroyed by acid, never to be seen again, but it has quickly become a fan-favorite and would inspire a series of other suits, this being Mark I.
MK II Suit
In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 656, Spider-Man updates the MK I armor and creates a new black and yellow suit. At the time, he lost his Spider-Sense ability, so he needed something that would reflect bullets. The suit limited his mobility but allowed him to defeat the mass murderer, villain Massacre, who had taken multiple hostages. Best of all, the suit has a turtleneck… so… stylish?
Secret War Suit
Not to be confused with the popular Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars comics from 1984, Marvel released another book called Secret War in 2004. In it Nick Fury recruits a private army of heroes, including Spider-Man, to stealthily overthrow the Latverian government (that’s Doctor Doom’s country, if you didn’t know). This was the costume he wore. It’s not particularly exciting.
Iron Spider Armor
In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 529, Tony Stark gifts Peter a new costume that heavily resembles his Iron Man suit. Heck, it doesn’t even need to use webs because it has repulsors in the feet and hands. Peter would eventually ditch the suit during Civil War because Tony was using it to control him. This suit was adapted to the screen during Avengers: Infinity War and is notable for the spider-legs that come out of the back.
Stealth Suit (green-mode)
In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man No. 650, Peter built himself a stealth suit that could become invisible to light and sound, depending on what color-mode it was in. He used the suit to defeat the new Hobgoblin and his sonic screams, before passing it on to one of his twisted clones, Kaine Parker, to become the new Scarlet Spider. This stuff is complicated.
“The Spider” Suit
As far as I can tell, the all-red suit that is in the Spider-Cave could only be “The Spider” suit from Exiles No. 12. In that story, the Exiles meet up with Peter Parker of Earth-15, a red-headed, mass murderer who merged with a Spider symbiote, which seems to be the Carnage of that universe. This character cracks jokes like Deadpool and ultimately dies after being burned to death. I have absolutely no idea why this costume is featured in Into the Spider-Verse or the impact of what it would mean for Peter Parker to have a symbiote hanging out in his Spider-Cave.
53. Villain Map
It seems that before he died, the Ultimate Peter Parker was seeking to dismantle a crime syndicate that expanded beyond the Kingpin. On the wall of the Spider-Cave are a series of photographs, connected by tape, that lay out the web of crime. There are a number of characters featured on the wall including crime boss Hammerhead and his muscle, The Enforcers.
But what has me most curious is the inclusion of the character The Rose. You see, The Rose is actually Richard Fisk, the Kingpin’s son. Could it be Vanessa and/or Richard survived the car crash? There’s a real possibility that Richard has donned a purple mask and is making a play to go up against his father as a rival crime lord, which is pretty much exactly what happened in the comics.
54. Romita Ramen
When Miles is running on the New York streets you can see a business behind him called “Romita Ramen.” John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr. remain amongst the most popular artists to have ever drawn Spider-Man and their work spans decades. A large majority of the characters that appear in this film were inspired or created by John Romita Sr., including the Kingpin.
55. Black Cat Maneki-neko
The maneki-neko is the well-known Japanese beckoning cat figure you’ve likely seen at a local restaurant, waving its paw back and forth. The cat is thought to bring luck, which is why it is so humorous to see a Black Cat version of this based off of Spider-Man’s on-again, off-again love interest with bad luck powers. Fans who have played Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4 will recognize the cat figure sitting on a counter in the kitchen of Uncle Aaron’s apartment, after having hunted down dozens of these to locate the Black Cat.
56. Maximus Gargan
In the Ultimate Universe there were multiple Scorpion characters, based on the classic Spider-Man villain. The first was a clone of Peter Parker wearing what looked like the classic Scorpion armor, complete with an acid-shooting tail. The second was a Spanish-speaking mob boss named Maximus Gargan, referred to as the Scorpion by his enemies.
Gargan traveled to New York to seek his revenge on Miles’ Uncle Aaron, who stole money from him. It turned out that Gargan was pretty much invulnerable and had superhuman strength, making him a formidable foe.
The Scorpion in Into the Spider-Verse seems to be a melding of the two versions. He speaks Spanish like Gargan and has mechanical enhancements like the typical Scorpion character. Perhaps those enhancements were created by the character known as the Spider-Slayer?
57. Madame Web
In the Marvel Comics there came a mutant named Cassandra Webb who would go on to be known as Madame Web. She was a clairvoyant character whose powers were specifically focused around spider-based characters. Most notably, for our needs, she sits in a chair surrounded by a series of tubes in a web-shaped pattern that acts as her life-support system.
In Into the Spider-Verse there is no such character as Madame Web, but when our heroes go into the Spider-Cave there is a familiar chair with a web pattern behind it that Aunt May sits in, clearly designed off the Madame Web concept. So, while Aunt May isn’t Madame Web she occupies a very similar position, that of a guiding figure who supplies and supports the Spider-Men.
58. Miles Loves Gwen
Throughout Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse the film teases that Miles has a bit of a crush on Gwen, despite not knowing her name initially. The story culminates in Gwen telling Miles that she’s a bit too old for him, by a few months, and that they should remain as friends.
A similar scenario played out when both of their comics crossed over in Spider-Man (vol. 2) Nos. 12-14 and Spider-Gwen (vol. 2) Nos. 16-18. It was for a story called “Sitting in a Tree”. The story began with an image of Miles and Gwen kissing and then went back in time to explain how they arrived at that point.
It turns out that the whole thing was a red herring and they weren’t actually kissing in the manner we might have expected. The story ends with Miles crushing on Gwen, but Gwen again says that she’s a bit too old for him and that they should remain as friends. The dialogue is nearly identical, enough that you would think that the movie was imitating the comic. However, these issues were released in 2017, well after Into the Spider-Verse began production, so perhaps it was the comics that were being influenced by the movie. Released in 2017, the dialogue is nearly identical, which suggests an incredibly quick turnaround time for the animators to incorporate these elements. I spoke with Spider-Gwen co-creator Jason Latour, and he confirmed to me that Miles crushing on Gwen was an idea he cooked up and approached his “Sitting in a Tree” co-writer Brian Michael Bendis with, through Spider-Office editor Nick Lowe. Latour was not aware this would also be a plotline in the movie.
59. “Friendly Neighborhood” Note
When Miles inevitably webs up the Kingpin and leaves him for the cops, he’s sure to leave behind a “Friendly Neighborhood” note for the cops. This maneuver is a pretty standard Spider-Man move, after first debuting in the Spider-Man cartoon in 1967.
In a recent issue of the comics, Amazing Spider-Man No. 801, readers got to see the very first time Spider-Man ever wrote a note and left it on a criminal he webbed up.
60. Black Panther
In various points throughout the movie we see Spider-Men climb on top of a particularly feline statue. Now, I can’t claim this for a fact, but it does hugely remind me of the statue that the Black Panther stood on in all the marketing for that film. Could this be a nod to the other major, black-led superhero film from 2018?
61. Kirby Krackle
When legendary Marvel illustrator Jack Kirby would draw explosions, cosmic energy, or any kind of magic mumbo-jumbo in the Marvel universe, he would include a grouping of dots that become known as “Kirby Krackle” or “Kirby Dots.” They’ve been pretty much adopted as a standard of the comic book form, especially at Marvel, but they appear throughout Into the Spider-Verse. But nowhere more so than when Miles lays down at the end of the film to finally relax, only to see a portal, surrounded by Kirby Krackle, opening.
The coloring seems to indicate that Spider-Gwen is returning to pull Miles off on another adventure, perhaps in her universe this time. As to how she’s doing this, in the comic Web Warriors, a book telling of a group of the same name, which Gwen was the leader, built spider-shaped wrist devices that allowed them to hop to through the multiverse (more on that later). The next time we see Gwen, I bet she’s sporting the latest fashions in dimension shifting gear.
62. Spider-Man Computer Desk Meme
If you’ve been on the internet then chances are you’ve seen the popular meme that shows Spider-Man hiding behind a computer desk with his hands nowhere to be found. The image originated from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon series in an episode titled “Electro the Human Lightning Bolt.” In the scene Spider-Man takes cover behind a desk during a battle with Electro.
The image has taken on some more unsavory sexual associations, but the first known instance of it being used as a meme was Oct. 18th, 2011. It has spread like wildfire ever since.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse references it multiple times, first when Peter and Miles break into the offices at Alchemax and then later many times during the credits, where you can clearly see the image faithfully reproduced.
63. Dancing Spider-Man Meme
Another popular meme makes its cinematic appearance during the credits sequence of Into the Spider-Verse. This time it is a GIF of a dancing Spider-Man that first made its debut in June 2001. The choreography of the piece was based on a Korean pop group named C.L.E.O for their song “Illusion.” Now, hundreds of Spider-Men fill the credits doing this dance.
64. Spider-Man 2099 and Lyla
If you stayed after the credits you were treated with what is probably the single-greatest post-credits tease. In it, we meet Miguel O’Hara, also known as Spider-Man 2099 and his assistant A.I. Lyla. Listed in the credits as Interesting Person No. 1 and No. 2, I knew something was up when a famous name like Oscar Isaac was included as someone who didn’t even warrant a full name.
Miguel O’Hara is the Latino Spider-Man from the year 2099 A.D. who works on a project for Alchemax to try and recreate the powers of Spider-Man. But, like any heroes’ origin story, he has an accident and half of his DNA gets reprogrammed to be that of a spider’s. He maintains very few of the powers of the original Spider-Man, mostly the strength and agility, but doesn’t have a Spider-Sense. He does have light-sensitive, red eyes that allow him to see in darkness and zoom-in. It is pretty creepy.
He spends most of his time in 2099 fighting against Tyler Stone, the Vice President of R&D at Alchemax and the person who tricked him into the accident that caused him to become Spider-Man. The bigger question is: Is Miguel from the future or another universe (Earth-928)? And will Miles’ interactions with Alchemax in the past find a way to influence Miguel’s interactions with them in the future?
Only “time” will tell. Plus, he’s built a dimension-hopping watch. Let the chaos begin!
65. Spider-Man Pointing at Spider-Man Meme
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse saves its very best for last. After teasing audiences with a ton of references to the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon, Miguel O’Hara as Spider-Man 2099 actually goes to the cartoon in its own universe (Earth-67), which he suggests is the beginning of all the other universes. That is true, if you look at it from an animated character’s perspective.
Even better, they’ve re-created another scene from the show that has become a meme. The image features two Spider-Men pointing at each other and comes from the episode titled “Double Identity.” In it, a villain attempts to impersonate Spider-Man to no success but a ton of hilarity. The earliest known use of the image was back on Feb. 5, 2011, but it wouldn’t gain its huge popularity until around 2015.
All I know is that I’ve never laughed so hard in the theater.
66. Cannibalistic Spider-Ham
In the final credits of Into the Spider-Verse we catch up on what our heroes have been up to in their own universe. We get a glimpse of Spider-Ham eating a hot dog from what seems to be a version of Papaya Dog named Uncle Frankfurter’s. This wouldn’t be that notable if the hot dog was an all-beef dog, but the mascot, who may just be Uncle Frankfurter, looks a lot like a pig, including a snout of the same variety.
Does this mean that Spider-Ham is a cannibal?
In the comics, Spider-Ham eats hot dogs and other pork-based products with increasing frequency. After Spider-Gwen gets her head kicked around in battle, during Spider-Gwen (vol. 1) No. 2, she begins to hallucinate that Spider-Ham has become her guardian angel. That Spider-Ham begins to eat some corn dogs, which Gwen comments on as cannibalistic. His response: “No, I’m a cartoon. Cannibalism would be if I ate Porky Pig.”
It makes a certain degree of sense, especially considering that Spider-Ham is a spider that was bitten by a radioactive pig. I guess he identifies more as a cartoon and a spider than he does as a pig. Either way, everything about it is a bit disturbing.
(With aid by Xavier Mendoza)
During the dance scene in Into the Spider-Verse‘s credits sequence, a Spider-Man with inverted colors shows up intermixed in the various conga lines and mosh pits. This is a rather obscure alternate Spider-Man known as Web-Man, who first appeared in Spidey Super Stories No. 25 in a story called “Spider-Man and Web-Man.” In that story, Spider-Man suspects trouble in a building and bursts through the window only to find a mirror. That mirror is the device used to trigger Doctor Doom’s “Twin Machine.” A lever is pulled and an alternate Spider-Man is created, except he’s quickly identified as the evil Web-Man. I’d be evil too if my costume was as lame as his. Spider-Man says it best, “He’s as strong as I am… but his jokes are worse.”
68. Peter Parker’s Religion
Over the years there has been a long-standing debate in the comics community around Peter Parker’s religious affiliation. The strange thing about this is that there really should be no debate; Peter is a non-practicing Christian. His wedding to Mary Jane was a Christian ceremony, he celebrated Christian holidays, and when confronted with overwhelming threats against his life he sometimes talks to God. But we’ve also got scenes like the one from Marvel Knights: Spider-Man No. 14 wherein Peter is pulled into a closet at The Daily Bugle to say a prayer, by his Superman-esque coworker, and reluctantly participates, as if prayer is something that makes him deeply uncomfortable. And why not? Peter Parker is a man who has fought alongside gods, made a deal with the devil, and even merged with the Power Cosmic. The idea of organized religion should probably sit uncomfortably with him.
Yet, you don’t have to go far on the internet to find people claiming that Peter Parker is Jewish, or at least secretly Jewish. A lot of this stems from his Borsch Belt-style humor, rooted in self-deprecation, which was likely born from Stan Lee’s own Jewish roots.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is set to explode this “controversy” because the film has it both ways. The Chris Pine voiced, blonde Peter Parker is buried at a Catholic church (St. Patricks) suggesting that he must be a Catholic, or at least converted for Mary Jane. But the Jake Johnson voiced, brunette Peter Parker is shown marrying Mary Jane in a Jewish ceremony where he stomps on the Chuppah Glass.
Yet, moments later he’s shown eating pizza with pepperoni on it. Come on Peter! That’s not kosher.
When we first meet Miles in his room he is asked by his father to begin packing for school. Miles quickly grabs his books off his drawing board and stashes them away. However, quick eyes will notice a drawing that is revealed under Miles’ books. The drawing shows a giant robot character holding a sword who could be no one else but Leopardon.
“Who is Leopardon?” You might ask.
Well, the answer is a bit complicated. You see, in the ‘70s, Marvel entered into a licensing agreement with the Toei Company, one of the biggest production companies in Japan. This agreement allowed Marvel and Toei to use each other’s properties in any way they wanted. As part of that deal, Toei created their own version of Spider-Man, also known as Supaidaman, a motorcycle racer who got his powers from an alien named Garia. Other than the costume and some of Spider-Man’s notable gadgetry and powers, there are few similarities between the characters. Heck, after a series of failed catch-phrases, Supaidaman’s famous line as he entered battle became “I’m the emissary of Hell!”
Part of his appeal was that at any point Supaidaman could call on his giant robot Leopardon to aid him in battle. The show would then transform into a giant robot versus monster battle that always ended with Leopardon drawing his sword and performing an instant kill on the monster. Famously, during the latter half of the television series, the suit for Leopardon was stolen, so the editors of the film had to piece together old footage of the character with new footage of the monsters in an attempt to keep the series going without spending more money.
This kind of production came to be known as tokusatsu and inspired decades of similarly constructed shows. So, if you love the Power Rangers you’ve got Spider-Man to thank for it.
Dan Gvozden, a lifelong Spider-Man fan, is a Heat Vision contributor and co-host of Amazing Spider-Talk podcast which looks at the past, present, and future of the Spider-Man character.
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