This Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse article contains spoilers.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse eased us into the multiversal weirdness. After introducing Miles, we finally met Peter B. Parker, followed by Spider-Gwen. Soon, things went nuts with a noirish detective Spider-Man, an anime girl from the future, and a cartoon pig. Once all that was done, we got to see a futuristic Spider-Man 2099 interact with a badly animated version with an obsession with pointing.
But this year’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse goes absolutely crazy with Spider-Man variants. Some are throwaway designs for the movie, but there are also many who are deep cuts from Marvel Comics history. Here’s a guide to all the new arachnid heroes and heroines in Across the Spider-Verse:
Starting with the supporting cast, we have a take on Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman, a mainstay heroine in Marvel Comics who was an Avenger and Agent of both SHIELD and SWORD. Spider-Woman has always had an iffy-at-best connection to Spider-Man. As Luke Cage once pointed out, she’s not related to him in any way and has completely different powers, but stole his gimmick anyway. But hey, it was good enough for her to get her own animated series once upon a time. Her outfit and habit of jumping into action while pregnant is from a solo run from a few years ago.
Jessica Drew’s movie rights are a bit awkward, as the MCU can technically use her…as long as she doesn’t associate with anything spider-related. That means you’ll never see her in costume in an MCU movie, if she’s introduced at all. It’s fitting that she would show up now, as Spider-Woman was pretty damn important in the comic version of Secret Invasion, which inspired the Marvel show on Disney+.
Before his star-making role in this movie, Hobie Brown was introduced in the Spider-Verse comic event before getting the spotlight in a couple short stories and finally his own miniseries. While the movie made it look like the Kingpin was the big evil authority figure in his world, the comic used Norman Osborn as a Reagan stand-in. Hobie used his powers, fighting skills, and musical talents to fight off Osborn’s symbiote army, and continued to take on his world’s own take on the villains, such as a yuppy Kang the Conqueror and a Taskmaster looking like he’s out of the Misfits.
Interestingly, Spider-Punk is not based on a version of Peter Parker or Miles Morales, but the Marvel 616 version of the Prowler. Maybe he and Miles are more similar than they realize.
Back in the mid-2000s, Marvel collaborated with Gotham Entertainment to do Spider-Man: India, a miniseries about recreating Spider-Man, but in India. Unlike the confidently studly movie version, the comic take on Pavitr Prabhakar is more of a shy loser like Peter Parker. Really, outside of the source of his powers and cultural stuff, they did little to differentiate him from the Peter Parker. Change his guardians to Uncle Bhim and Aunt Maya, change his love interest to Meera Jain, etc.
As for the powers, Pavitr’s are more mystical than science fiction. This lends itself to the Venom symbiote, which is some kind of fluid demon creature in this reality.
Introduced in 2018’s Vault of Spiders, Margo practically lives online, making the “world wide web” more literal. Usually hanging out in the Peter Parker Memorial Science & Technology Building, Margo was able to enhance her online avatar to have armor and powers, allowing her to fight off cyber criminals. After joining Spider-Gwen in one of the Spider-Verse crossovers, she was able to translate her cyberspace abilities into the real world.
Many years ago, Spider-Man was cloned. Then that clone died minutes later and his remains were thrown into a smokestack. Years after that, we discovered that the clone didn’t die after all. He instead wandered around the country under the name Ben Reilly. When Spider-Man became a bit too broody and unhinged in his comics, Ben Reilly returned to remind everyone what a fun “Peter Parker” was like. Under the name Scarlet Spider, the two got in some highly popular adventures in the ’90s.
Although they played around with the idea that Ben was the real Spider-Man in the comics, he was killed at the end of the story and crumbled to dust to prove that he was really, absolutely, definitely a clone. Then he came back years later because comics. The movie version plays up both the ’90s art style of the Clone Saga and the fact that being a clone is somehow the worst thing a person can be in comic books.
The Wild West version of Spider-Man originally cameo’d in Amazing Spider-Man #9 back in 2014. Marvel later expanded on him in an episode of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon where they brilliantly gave him the villain Doc Ock Holliday. Web-Slinger (real name Patrick O’Hara) and his masked horse eventually received their own comic short story in which he took on a frontier mad scientist version of Morbius.
This is self-explanatory. It’s Spider-Man from a LEGO universe. He was in the LEGO Marvel video games and was featured in some animated stories. The real talking point is that Lord and Miller were not only the creative team behind the Spider-Verse movies but also The LEGO Movie. Due to the inclusion of DC heroes and a corporate reluctance to do any kinds of Marvel/DC crossovers, Spider-Man did not have a chance in showing up in that film.
Just about everyone has their own favorite TV show that just did not last long enough. The one that got canceled before it had a chance. For so many superhero fans, Spectacular Spider-Man is that show. With two seasons and only 26 episodes, the dynamic and well-written series ended up dying a quick death due to complicated rights issues. Across the Spider-Verse did actually continue the story in a way, by showing the death of Captain Stacy, which the show never got around to portraying.
When Into the Spider-Verse hit theaters, Marvel had fans create “Spidersonas” and the design of a wheelchair-bound Sun-Spider was born. Charlotte Webber (OOOOOF!) has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, and although gaining spider powers did not cure that, she was able to find ways around her handicap while fighting crime. While the movie version remains in a wheelchair, the comic version outfitted herself with badass web-slinging crutches.
Being that this is a Sony project, of course they would include a shout out to their hit PlayStation Spider-Man series. And In the new movie, Ganke is shown playing what appears to be Spider-Man 2 during his brief screentime! Of course, the Insomniac games also strongly deal with the existence of Miles Morales as the second Spider-Man. You’d think that would be a big talking point for this version of Peter Parker.
Back in 1995, Miguel O’Hara’s creator Peter David wrote a one-shot called Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man, which explains itself. In this first prototype of the Spider-Verse experiment, the two ended up thrust into the year 2211, where they faced that era’s Hobgoblin. Spider-Man 2211 showed up and put a stop to Hobgoblin’s threat before sending his counterparts back to their correct times. David revisited this character during his Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man run.
In the ’90s, we were lucky to get five seasons of the Spider-Man animated series. It wasn’t the best superhero show ever, but it did all right for itself. The show ended on its own Spider-Man multiversal story, with a cliffhanger about Spider-Man’s search for Mary Jane’s whereabouts.
That cliffhanger would be completely ignored as instead of a sixth season, they spun it off into Spider-Man Unlimited. Remember the High Evolutionary and Counter-Earth from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? Well, imagine if Spider-Man dealt with those things while wearing a terrible costume and even worse versions of Venom and Carnage. This show did NOT get five seasons, just so you know.
When Spider-Man went to the Baxter Building so that Reed Richards could run tests on his new, kickass, black costume, things got hectic when it was discovered to be an alien symbiote. The creature was removed from Spider-Man’s body, but Peter was reduced to just his boxers and no mask. No way for one to swing home. The Fantastic Four took care of this by giving Spider-Man one of their costumes with a paper bag mask and a “KICK ME” sign on the back.
Marvel’s very controversial One More Day storyline retconned away Peter and Mary Jane’s entire marriage via Cosmic Satan. But the 2015 Secret Wars event, a reality was shown where they remained together and had a spider kid. No longer happy with being on the sidelines, Mary Jane became Spinneret and wore a super suit that copied her husband’s powers. Unfortunately, it also drained his powers if they were in the vicinity of each other.
Earth X Spider-Man
While there is a Spider-Cop out in the Spider-Verse comics, the guy directing traffic in the movie seems to be more based on the Peter Parker of Earth-X. This alternate reality took place in a dystopian future that tried to connect as much of Marvel as possible, explaining that everything that wasn’t magic, alien, or robot was caused by the mutant gene. Spider-Man, Hulk, and Daredevil? Mutants whose powers kicked in via scientific accidents. Inhumans? Mutants who awakened their powers differently. Asgardians? Mutants from space who had evolved to be limitlessly powerful, but installed with genetic failsafes where they were molded by the beliefs of others. It’s complicated.
Peter Parker was really mopey in this reality because MJ was dead and their daughter fought crime while bonded to the Venom symbiote. He ended up taking Luke Cage’s offer to become a police officer, which also helped mend his relationship with his daughter.
Pter Ptarker is probably the most recent Spider variant to show up in Across the Spider-Verse, and from the looks of it, he was only added to the comics because they’d already designed him for the movie. The dino made his debut in mid-2022, after all. The web-swinging T-Rex got his powers from a meteor filled with spiders, because, sure. Probably the most brilliant part of this setup was that Venomsaurus was really a dinosaur that survived falling into the tar pits.
Spider-Cat was originally created for a short story where a housecat had dreams of fighting crime in red and blue tights while fighting a Venom pigeon. The concept was brought back for the Spider-Verse comic, where the poor kitty had its essence devoured by a vampire.
The more popular take is Spider-Man the Cat, a bodega cat who would occasionally accompany the Miles version of Spider-Man in his video game. While this cat did not have any actual powers, its adorable getup more closely resembles the movie version.
The second Spider-Woman made her debut in the middle of the original Secret Wars, where she joined the heroes’ side against Dr. Doom and the rest of the villains. Notably, when Spider-Man first received the black costume, he figured its color scheme was an unconscious design choice from having the new Spider-Woman on his mind. Julia ended up being pretty prominent in the ’90s, but fell into semi-obscurity once Jessica Drew entered the spotlight again. Eventually, Julia took the mantle of Madame Web, which will be netting her a movie as early as next year.
After Marvel Zombies became a huge hit, Marvel tried to emulate that success with Marvel Apes. A team of heroes ended up in a universe where instead of evolving into humans, apes just evolved into smarter apes. Then there was a whole thing where some of the heroes were really corrupt and Captain America was a vampire, or whatever. They ran out of clever gags almost immediately, but naming their Spider-Man counterpart Spider-Monkey was just too easy of a layup not to use.
Speaking of Marvel Zombies, Ash Williams of Evil Dead fame got his own crossover with that doomed universe. After witnessing the beginning of the outbreak and later ending up in Latveria, Ash was able to escape into another dimension. At first, he was happy as it seemed rather normal. Then he saw that the place was torn apart by Marvel Werewolves for the sake of a jokey cliffhanger.
The Spider-Mobile was a concept introduced back in 1973 and even the comic was about how silly and pointless it was. It became a running gag in Spider-Man lore, including by showing up in Old Man Logan of all places. Then, in the Spider-Verse comic, the Spider-Mobile evolve into an actual character. Coming from a world much like the movie Cars, Peter Parkedcar had to deal with J. Jonah Jalopy and…honestly, that’s such a perfect name that we’re going to end this entry here.
One idea used several times in What If…? was, “What if Flash Thompson was bitten by the radioactive spider?” It never ended well. One time he became a corrupt Spider-Man. One time he became a bully of a vigilante and accidentally killed Peter in a fit of anger. The first time, though, he did try to be a real deal superhero. As Captain Spider, Flash was mostly focused on his agility and pure strength. All that brawn amounted to little when the Vulture dropped him from a great height. Flash never even thought about developing web shooters, so he was doomed. Peter (a major Captain Spider fan) found his body, mourned Flash, and was able to recreate the accident to give himself spider powers.
In the comics, after Thanos gathered the full Infinity Gauntlet, he was ultimately defeated by Adam Warlock. For a time, Adam held onto the Gauntlet and figured he would be better off if he split himself into his good side and his bad side. His Mr. Hyde, otherwise known as Magus, created an army of demonic doppelgangers for superheroes to deal with in their own books as event tie-ins.
While most of those monster duplicates went away, Spider-Man’s survived. In time, it was even determined that the creature wasn’t even made of organic matter. It just existed. The Spider Doppelganger joined the team Maximum Carnage, where it was treated as Carnage and Shriek’s pet dog. It has popped up every now and then, always loyal to Shriek, but otherwise a feral killing machine.
Spider-Man has worn several suits of armor throughout the years and they all appear in this movie. The most famous one is his silver armor from Web of Spider-Man #100 with its rad dye cut cover. The armor showed up in various Spider-Man video games and even the final episode of the ’90s animated series, worn by a Peter in a world where he had the opposite kind of Parker Luck. He was rich, famous, beloved, and lacked a dead uncle.
Future Foundation Spider-Man
After the untimely death of the Human Torch, Spider-Man decided to join the Fantastic Four as a way to honor his longtime frenemy. As the Fantastic Four led to the creation of the Future Foundation, Spider-Man replaced his blue and red outfit with a slick, white one. Even after Human Torch returned from the dead, Peter remained part of the Future Foundation for a while. He also had a short run as Johnny’s roommate, but soon kicked him out of the apartment after accidentally walking in on Annihilus on the toilet.
In an interesting change in the status quo, a dying Doctor Octopus was able to switch minds with Peter Parker. Octavius decided that he would be a hero like Peter, but he would do so by his own rules. At best, he was an asshole. At worst, he was no better than the villains he brutalized.
In his darkest hour, this Spider-Man realized that he could not foil the Green Goblin’s plans. Accepting his inferiority, he allowed Peter to retake the wheel. Since then, the concept has been revisited in various ways, as Octavius still had interest in using his mad science for the good of the world…whether the world wanted it or not.
It’s worth noting that Superior Spider-Man’s costume is an unused design from the first Spider-Man movie.
The idea of Spider-Man being a protégé to Iron Man was played up in the mid-00s around the time when the two were in the Avengers. Stark was impressed with Peter’s intelligence and decided to take him under his wing. This led to the Iron Spider costume, which Peter wore up until Civil War happened and he cut ties with Iron Man. Probably for the best, since Iron Man had full control over the outfit’s tech.
Last Stand Spider-Man
In a possible future, killing Kraven the Hunter in the name of vengeance mentally scarred Spider-Man. Like eating potato chips, he just could not stop at one and went on a murder spree, even killing off Doc Ock. He became a pariah in the superhero community and it all came back to bite when the NYPD opened fire on him while he visited Aunt May’s grave. More importantly, he had the sweetest jacket in this story.
Big Time Spider-Man
Dan Slott wrote Amazing Spider-Man for what felt like 50 years, and he had a habit of having Spider-Man design new costumes for himself every now and then, including a nifty stealth suit used to counter the Hobgoblin’s “Lunatic Laugh.” Said suit has become iconic in its short existence and has shown up in various video games.
Bullet Points Bruce Banner
Back in 2005, Marvel released a five-issue What If…? story where Dr. Erskine and nearby soldier Ben Parker were shot to death by a Nazi assassin before the Captain America experiment could happen. This led to various changes in history where Steve Rogers was the original Iron Man, Peter Parker was the Hulk, and Reed Richards was the eyepatch-wearing Director of SHIELD. While Peter was the Jade Giant, fate mirrored that change by having Bruce Banner become a SHIELD scientist who was able to give himself radioactive spider powers. This Spider-Man admittedly didn’t do much in the story.
The goal of Ultimate Marvel was to reintroduce characters, concepts, and stories from the mainstream canon, and that got Brian Michael Bendis thinking, “Wait…can I make a version of Clone Saga that’s good?” Considering he once created a random scientist named Ben Reilly just to troll readers, it was interesting to see him actually go for it. One notable clone was Tarantula, who was Peter if he skewed more towards the spider part of his biology. Mainly in the sense that he had six arms.
He was impaled by Doc Ock, but a late-game twist in the Ultimate Spider-Man series revealed that Peter Parker and Norman Osborn were both immortal due to their exposure to the chemical Oz. Tarantula just never got a chance to show up again.
The Clone Saga became less beloved the longer it went on. Spidercide is part of the reason why. Showing up as an evil Peter Parker clone during the storyline Maximum Clonage, he was genetically programmed by the Jackal to want to kill his fellow Peters, making him a full-on villain. Spidercide not only had the regular Spider-Man powers, but was also a shapeshifter. But ae was…not much of a recurring threat and he’s usually referred to as a punchline of how silly the ’90s could get.