Though we are currently living in an era of never-ending superhero franchise films, I’ll be honest. I could never have predicted that something like SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE would ever come to theaters. Even it was a direct-to-DVD film, the very concept of a Miles Morales origin movie that deals with multiple universes and Spider-Gwen would still be nothing to sneeze at.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it’s a lot to take in. So, to help make sense of what’s going on, here’s a guide to the major characters seen in the trailer. By analyzing their comics origins, let’s see what we can expect when they appear on screen this December.

“Ultimate” Spider-Man

So, who is Miles Morales? Well, as the INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE trailer hinted at, Miles doesn’t come from the mainstream Marvel universe. Back in the early 2000s, Marvel began a line of comics known as “Ultimate Marvel.” “Ultimate Marvel”’s goal was to attract new readers through an alternate universe that basically restarted the Marvel Universe from scratch. This meant seeing a lot of familiar faces being reinvented in a more streamlined and edgier fashion.  

Into the Spider-Verse
Images courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Fittingly enough, “Ultimate Marvel”’s first series was ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. As you’d expect, the series was about the Ultimate version of Peter Parker figuring out life as a teen superhero. But then, in 2011, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN had a storyline called “Death of Spider-Man.” To make a long story short, it lived up to its title.

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Miles Morales

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures and Marvel Entertainment

With Peter Parker dead in the Ultimate universe, Miles Morales enters the picture. Well, technically he enters the picture one or two days before Parker gets killed off. Like Parker, Miles is a bookish “nerd” who gets his powers after a scientifically-modified spider bites him. However, Miles’ path to becoming a full-out superhero is a bit more complicated than that.

For starters, Miles got his powers when he was 13, which makes him relatively young as far as “Spider-Men” go. Another thing is that Miles didn’t get his powers in a totally legal fashion; he got his spider-bite while secretly visiting his super-thief uncle’s apartment (more on that later).

Another big difference between Miles and Peter is their initial attitudes towards having superpowers. Peter Parker first used his powers for self-gain before realizing he had a duty to be a responsible superhero. Miles, on the other hand, first uses his powers to save some people from a burning building.

At first, it seems pretty courageous, especially since Miles wasn’t even wearing a costume at the time. But the experience overwhelms Miles, causing him to break down into tears afterward. 

Into the Spider-Verse
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

However, on the night that Peter Parker dies, Miles ends up sneaking out and witnesses Parker’s death firsthand. Because of this, Miles feels guilty because he thinks he could’ve used his powers to save Peter. Thus, he vows to take up the mantle of Spider-man. In other words, Peter Parker is basically Miles Morales’ “Uncle Ben.”

At first, this results in a few clumsy attempts at emulating Spider-man while wearing a cheap Halloween costume. But then, Miles manages to prove his worth when he helps some SHIELD operatives take down Electro. As thanks, SHIELD gives Miles his own unique Spider-man outfit, confirming that he has, in fact, become the next Spider-Man.

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Not Like The Comics

Besides their origin narrative arcs, there are other differences between Peter and Miles as well. Miles lives with his birth parents, whereas Peter lives with his Aunt May. Peter went to public school, while Miles attends a boarding charter school. Miles also has extra powers that Peter never had.

He can turn invisible and he can deliver a paralyzing electric shock through his hands. Miles calls these shocks “Venom Blasts.” Considering that Venom was already an established villain in the Ultimate universe prior to Miles’ introduction, this might be confusing.

Into the spider-verse
Image Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Speaking of differences, there are also some pretty big discrepancies between comics Miles Morales and INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE’s Miles Morales. Personality-wise, they seem pretty similar, and while there aren’t any “venom-blasts” in the trailer, Miles has definitely retained his invisibility powers.

However, considering that Parker’s death is what motivated Miles into becoming Spider-man in the comics, Parker being alive in INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE as a mentor figure is a huge departure. Similar to the Peter Parker situation, the other big differences between the comics and the trailer seem to have to do with Miles’ supporting cast.

Ganke Lee, Miles’ best friend and secret-keeper, didn’t appear in the trailer at all. Same goes for various other Ultimate Universe characters who help Miles come into his own as Spider-man, such as Nick Fury and Aunt May.

Into the Spider-verse
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

Jefferson Davis

However, though most of Miles’ original supporting cast seems to be missing, a couple characters did make it through. Miles’ father Jefferson got plenty of screen-time in the trailer, and he seems to be a nicer guy than he was in the comics.

Into the Spider-verse
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

Now, to be clear, Jefferson Davis in the comics isn’t an abusive jerk. But he’s still an intimidating figure who has a grudge to bear against mutants and superheroes like Spider-Man. Whether or not that’ll carry over to INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE remains to be seen. Though, for the sake of dramatic irony, it’s probably likely that Jefferson will be at least somewhat suspicious of his son’s alter-ego.

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Also, for those who are wondering, Miles Morales gets his last name from his mom, Rio Morales. Jefferson and Rio are happily married, but it seems that they didn’t change their names. I guess they went with Morales for Miles because they like alliteration.

What’s A Spider-Verse?

Miles Morales isn’t the only fancy alternate universe Spider-man INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE has to offer. Back in 2014, the Spider-man series had a storyline called SPIDER-VERSE. Now, it remains uncertain how much comics SPIDER-VERSE has to do with INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

You see, in the comics, SPIDER-VERSE was about a bunch of interdimensional killer vampires called the Inheritors going around to every dimension to kill every version of Spider-man they could find. So, in response, every interdimensional version of Spider-man teamed up together to fight back.

Into the Spider-verse
Images courtesy of Marvel Comics

Now, all we’ve seen so far is a trailer. So, it’s still possible that the inheritors and other interdimensional spider-men are going to appear in the film. But for now, let’s just focus on one of the Spider-people we know for sure will appear.

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Spider-Gwen

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures

Spider-Gwen made her comics debut during the SPIDER-VERSE event as one of the many, many Spider-people introduced and enlisted to help fight against the Inheritors. Now, the name Gwen Stacy should be familiar to Spider-man fans as the name of Peter Parker’s first serious girlfriend, who ended up dying because of a scuffle between Parker and the Green Goblin. But, as you’d probably expect, the story behind Gwen Stacy as Spider-Gwen goes a lot differently.

Similar to the original version, Gwen Stacy gets bitten by a radioactively altered spider while in high school. And, like the original, she first uses her powers for self-centered reasons, namely, to become a costumed celebrity of sorts. Unfortunately, her universe’s version of Peter Parker becomes obsessed with her Spider-themed alter ego. He tries to give himself superpowers through a self-invented formula that turns him into a lizard monster, and he ends up dying when Spider-Gwen swings in to stop him.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

To make matters worse, Gwen and Peter were close friends, which makes her feel extra guilty when he dies. This causes Gwen to realize that she has to be more responsible with her abilities, and so, she vows to start using her powers for good. In other words, Peter Parker is basically Spider-Gwen’s “Uncle Ben” (huh, that sounds familiar).

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Personalities and Possible Love Interests

Besides the backstory, power-wise she’s practically the same as the original, though her personality is somewhat different. Instead of being a bookish “nerd” like Miles and Peter, when she’s not in costume, Gwen is an outspoken drummer in an up-and-coming rock band.

She’s also more open about her secret identity; for instance, in the first issue she appears in, Gwen willingly reveals her identity to her father, even though he’s a police officer who’s trying to track her alter-ego down. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Spider-Gwen’s first actual love interest in her series is… Miles Morales.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
In hindsight, “AdventuresInPoorTaste.com” probably isn’t the best name for a review site. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics.

In a crossover storyline called “Sitting in a Tree,” Miles gets sent by SHIELD into Earth-65 (Spider-Gwen’s home universe) after Miles’ father Jefferson goes missing while investigating some illicitly-gained interdimensional devices. Miles and Gwen hit it off almost immediately, resulting in some awkward romantic tension that gets really awkward when Gwen accidentally ends up in a version of the future where she and Miles are married.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

Now, if you’re wondering when they actually kiss, it’s a bit more anticlimactic than you might expect. Their only kiss happens in the last issue of the crossover (SPIDER-GWEN #18), and they immediately agree to stay as friends afterward. Now, will this romantic arc of sorts appear in INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE?

Well, truth be told, it would be incredibly awkward to have Miles date Gwen Stacy while Peter is still around. But, animated or not, superhero movies are no stranger to tacked-on romantic subplots. In any case, the possibility of Miles and Gwen being love interests should be an interesting thing to look out for.

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Peter Parker

Last but not least, we have the original neighborhood friendly Spiderman himself, Peter Parker. Now, I presume that if you’re reading this article, you already know how Parker’s story goes. That being said, I’m guessing that seeing Peter Parker as a shabby looking adult must have been a surprise.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures and Marvel Entertainment

After all, Parker is basically the poster boy for the clean-cut teen hero archetype. Or is he?

Sure, most movies and TV shows like to portray Spider-man as a teenager. But in the mainstream comics, Parker’s been an adult college-graduate for a while, and he hasn’t always been great at taking care of himself.

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Take, for instance, the storyline ONE MORE DAY, where Peter ends up selling his marriage with Mary Jane to the Devil to save Aunt May’s life. Or THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN series, in which Dr. Octopus possessed Parker’s body, which lasted for more than 33 issues. Or more recently, that time in PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #4 when Peter tried to do standup as Spider-man and totally bombed.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
This is canon. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics.

The point is, Peter, being a down-on-his-luck adult has actually been the status quo for a considerable amount of time. And it’s not like INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is the first Spider-man movie to reflect this. In the original Sam Raimi films, SPIDER-MAN 2 and SPIDER-MAN 3 both show Peter struggling financially while trying to be the best superhero he can be.

But even if that wasn’t the case, Miles is currently seventeen, and Spider-Gwen is currently nineteen. So Peter really is the only one here who can claim to be a fully-grown adult superhero. And since being Spider-man inevitably messes with one’s personal fortunes, being a somewhat disheveled mentor figure is actually pretty fitting for Parker.

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The Villains of INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

As of now, three villains have been confirmed so far for INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE: The Green Goblin, The Kingpin, and The Prowler. Now, William Fisk (Kingpin) and Norman Osborn (Goblin) are both pretty well-known supervillains in the Marvel Universe, but based on the trailer, it’s hard to tell how much presence they’ll have in the movie. The Kingpin only showed up in the trailer as a silhouette caught in an explosion, whereas the Green Goblin seems to have become some sort of mindless dragon monster.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Images courtesy of Marvel Comics

Granted, the Ultimate version of Norman Osborn is a green-skinned hulking mutant who chucks around fireballs. But he was still a super-smart evil business tycoon like his mainstream counterpart. He even masterminded the events that lead to the “Death of Spider-man” storyline.

But, considering that alternate universes are at play here, I do wonder if there’s going to be enough room for that side of Osborn’s character to shine through. However, regardless of how Kingpin or the Green Goblin turns out, there’s one villain that’s sure to play a major role in the upcoming film.

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Aaron Davis (AKA Bizarro Uncle Ben)

In the Ultimate Universe, the Prowler’s real name is Aaron Davis, and he’s Miles’s uncle. One of the main reasons why Miles’ father Jefferson is strict with Miles is because both Jefferson and Aaron grew up as criminals. But while Jefferson eventually became a law-abiding citizen, Aaron continued his life of crime and managed to use stolen super-tech to become the supervillain known as the Prowler.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures and Marvel Entertainment

Further complicating things is Aaron’s relationship with Miles. Jefferson forbids Aaron from talking to his family, but Aaron ends up forming a friendly relationship with Miles anyways. As mentioned earlier, Miles even gets his spider powers while visiting Aaron’s apartment; it turns out that Aaron had been robbing Ozcorp facilities, and an altered spider similar to the one that bit Parker snuck into Aaron’s bag.

However, as the time goes on, Aaron ends up revealing his true colors as an amoral criminal. After figuring out that Miles is secretly Spider-man, Aaron tries to manipulate Miles into helping him take over the criminal underworld. Eventually, this leads to a fight between the two that results in Aaron’s death.

INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

Again, it’s hard to tell how much of this will make it in to INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. It seems unlikely that Prowler will be able to manipulate Miles with adult Peter and Spider-Gwen in the picture. That being said, Prowler being Miles’ uncle will almost definitely be in the film, and I’m pretty sure his relationship with Jefferson will play a role in explaining why Jefferson is the way he is in the movie.

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Who Knows What Could Happen?

If you wanted to know more about all those characters you saw without having to pore through pages of comics and fan wikis, hopefully, this helped. INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE incorporates a bunch of different comic storylines, and even if you’ve read them before, it’s hard to tell what will be used, and what will be left out.

So, if you want to know what happens, make sure to catch SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE in theaters when it comes out on December 14th, 2018.

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  1. […] Speaking of which, the Marvel movies won’t be caught dead missing out on the Spidey action. The SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE film is making waves recently, with a new trailer and a handful of details coming out of NYCC […]

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