As superhero movies have surged in popularity over the past decade, it's been shown time and again remaining completely faithful to an original comic book doesn't always make for a successful movie. With Into the Spider-Verse, Sony is finally catching on.
From what we can tell from the trailers, screenwriters Phil Lord and Chris Miller have combined the major aspects of Dan Slott's 2014 Marvel event Spider-Verse and the 2016 series Web Warriors with two of Brian Michael Bendis' stories — All-New Spider-Man in 2011 and the 2012 crossover Spider-Men — to create a unique story, as Sony ramps up its world-building in the Spider-Man universe following Venom last month.
Into the Spider-Verse follows Miles Morales as he encounters the long-dead Peter Parker from elsewhere in the multi-verse (the main plot point from Spider-Men) and with Peter's guidance, Miles becomes Spider-Man (depicted in All-New Spider-Man) as he encounters other members of the ever-expanding 'Spider-Verse,' shown in Marvel's 2014 Spider-Verse event.
To get some insight on the upcoming Into the Spider-Verse movie, due out on Dec. 14, we're taking a look back at the origins of the main Into the Spider-Verse characters and a few of the stories that might show up in the movie.
Since Into the Spider-Verse is very much a Miles Morales story, the seeds for the new movie go back to the summer of 2011 when Bendis created Miles Morales in the pages of Ultimate Fallout #4. Following the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe of Earth-1610 at the hands of the Green Goblin, we got a chance to see Miles' first foray into crime fighting, to the distaste of bystanders and villains alike.
Facing off against the Aussie villain Kangaroo in New York, Miles donned a slightly altered Spider-Man costume, while still figuring out his new powers. In the trailers for Into the Spider-Verse, we see Miles wearing a similar suit as he first meets and trains with Peter, web slinging through the forest and learning to use his webshooters.
In September of 2011, Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli dug deeper into Miles' past, as it was revealed that Norman Osborne has begun testing new radioactive spiders in hopes of creating another Spider-Man. Of course, one of the test spiders managed to escape and later crawled into a duffle bag owned by Aaron Davis — Miles' uncle and super-criminal the Prowler — as he broke into Osborne's lab.
With a bite on the wrist suffered while visiting Davis, Miles was turned into the new Spider-Man, with varying powers. He's imbued with super speed, agility, strength and the ability stick to walls like his predecessor, but now Miles can also turn invisible and boasts the venom blast, which delivers a powerful electric charge.
Much of the first arc of the All New Spider-Man dealt with Miles coming to terms with his new abilities as he sought help from Peter's loved ones, including Mary Jane Watson and Aunt May. In addition, Miles had to contend with his father Jefferson's distaste for superheroes when he decided that it's now his responsibility to step up in the absence of Peter Parker.
In Bendis' 2012 Spider-Men mini series, Miles and Peter met for the first time thanks to the Ultimate Universe Mysterio, who uses an interdimensional portal to travel to Earth-616. Things go wrong and Peter is transported into Miles' universe, where the two eventually team up to take down Mysterio. In the process, Miles is able to pick up some lessons on being a hero from the elder Spider-Man, who, in the end, gives him his blessing.
Even though Into the Spider-Verse's main villain seems to be Kingpin, the premise here is very similar, with Peter somehow being transported into Miles' universe, in the process teaching him a thing or two about being the best webslinger he can be.
Spider-Woman aka Spider-Gwen
Despite a horde of new characters including Spider-Punk, Old Man Spider-Man and Spider-UK, Spider-Gwen (Earth-65) was the breakout character of Dan Slott's Spider-Verse in 2014. In that story, the Spider-men and women of varying multiverses had to team up to take down Morlun and his vampiric family, the Inheritors of Earth-001.
In Edge of Spider-Verse #2 writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez established that the in the Earth-65 universe, Gwen Stacy, not Peter Parker, has been given super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Peter, jealous of her powers, turned himself into the lizard, ultimately leading to his death after he goes on a rampage.
Just like Peter Parker of Earth-616, Gwen struggles to balance her life as a high school student while being a masked superhero. Additionally, she had to make time for her band — The Mary Janes — and the increasingly watchful eye of her father, NYPD Captain George Stacy.
Spider-Gwen was given her own solo book shortly after "Spider-Verse," which continued the story of Gwen fighting off both the Kingpin and his corrupt lawyer Matt Murdock, NYPD detective Frank Castle (elsewhere known as Daredevil and the Punisher), and his hired goon Kraven the Hunter.
Just like the original Spider-Man, Gwen has superhuman strength, agility and endurance and the ability to stick to any surface. In contrast, Spider-Gwen is seemingly more agile than Peter, has web shooters and unlimited fluid thanks to her mentor Janet Van Dyne, and after the events of Spider-Verse, uses a wrist watch to travel across dimensions at will.
While we don't know much about the Spider-Gwen from Into the Spider-Verse, it seems like she possesses the same super strength, agility and Spider-abilities as her comic counterpart.
Peni Parker aka Sp/Dr
In the first few pages of Edge of Spider-Verse #5 by writer Gerard Way and artist Jake Wyatt, we're introduced to Peni Parker (Earth-14512), a young student who has just been orphaned when her father dies in a horrible accident piloting a massive suit of armor.
Soon, Peni is notified by her "Aunt May" and "Uncle Ben" that, due to her matching genetics, she's the only one who can pilot the Sp/Dr, the heavy armor suit with mechanized web shooters and a radioactive spider at its heart.
Five years later, Peni is still piloting Sp/Dr as she's dispatched to take down Mysterio. Despite being dosed with Mysterio's hallucinogenic toxin, Peni defeats the villain, all the while listening to the fictional band Cult Summer play "Love Is Just a Crime."
In the heavily stylized comic, Way and Wyatt pay homage to their love of anime, from the Neon Genesis Evangelion-ish Sp/Dr armor and Peni's Japanese schoolgirl alter ego down to the cameos of Batou from Ghost in the Shell and Tetsuo from Akira.
Mostly quiet and reserved, Peni is a reluctant yet hardcore hero who just wants to find out more about her father, even while dispatching gangs in her Neo-Tokyo-like city.
At the end of Edge #5, Peni is recruited by Spider-Ham and Old Man Spider-Man Ezekiel Sims to face the mounting danger posed by the Inheritors. In the trailer for Into the Spider-Verse, we're only given a quick glimpse at Peni Parker, who initially seems way more upbeat than her comic book counterpart. In addition, her Sp/Dr suit has been completely redesigned and looks a little more cartoonish.
Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham
Conceived as a funny take on the Marvel heroes by longtime editor Tom DeFalco in the 1980s, Peter Porker made his debut in Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #1 alongside such animal-based characters as Deerdevil, Goose Rider, Hulk Bunny and the Fantastic Fur.
Born as spider named Peter, he is given superpowers and turns into an anthropomorphic pig when May Porker, irradiated by an experiment with a hair dryer, bites him.
Using his newfound powers for good, the Spectacular Spider-Ham takes on villains like Ducktor Doom and the King-Pig.
Spider-Ham lay dormant for almost two decades after his first starring series in 1985. In 2007, the character was resurrected for a one shot, Ultimate Civil War #1, in which he travels across multiple story lines to find his missing thought balloons. While only a one-off, the story established Spider-Ham's ability to break the fourth wall.
Dan Slott made Peter Porker an integral part of Spider-Verse seven years later, as he's seen helping the various Spider-characters in their fight with Morlun and his family. After the events of Secret Wars, Spider-Ham and Spider-Gwen team up to create the Web-Warriors with Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man: India, Spider-UK and Anya Corazon.
The Into the Spider-Verse version of Spider-Ham, voiced brilliantly by John Mulaney, seems to stay close to the original version of the character, a cartoony, comic foil for Peter, Miles and the rest of the webslingers.
Created by David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky, and Carmine Di Giandomenico, Spider-Noir is a Depression-era version of Peter Parker who gains his superpowers after being bitten by a mystical spider. Donning a costume based on his uncle's World War I-era airman uniform, Peter becomes the vigilante Spider-Man.
Much like his classic counterpart, Spider-Man Noir possess enhanced strength, speed, reflexes, a "spider-sense" and the ability to shoot organic webbing from his wrists. In contrast, Spider-Man Noir is a skilled marksman and very comfortable using firearms, including a tommy gun in his battles. Unlike Peter Parker of Earth-616, Spider-Man Noir has no problem killing criminals.
The darker tone of the Spider-Noir series carries over to the main character, who as an investigative journalist, takes his job one step further, vowing to punish the criminals he's deemed guilty.
Without Uncle Ben to teach him the difference between right and wrong, the Spider-Man of Earth-90214 is brought up with the motto "If there is too much power, then it is the responsibility of the people to take it away" by his socialist-leaning Aunt May.
While it seemed odd at first, tapping Nicholas Cage to voice the dour Spider-Man Noir could prove incredibly smart, as he could play the straight man to the sarcastic Peter and slapstick antics of Spider-Ham.
Web of Life and Destiny
One of the big questions left from the Into the Spider-Verse trailer is where exactly are Peter and Miles when they're seen in the strange room lined with various Spider-Man costumes. While it looks a little different than the comic book versions, we can only assume it's the Web of Life and Destiny — a three-dimensional world in five-dimensional space situated on Earth-001, which acts as a model of the entire Multiverse and enables travel between realities — shown below in the 2016 series Web Warriors by writer Mike Costa and artist David Baldeon. In that series, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-UK, Spider-Ham and load of other spiders team up to save all of reality from Electro. Sound familiar?
The idea of multiple versions of Spider-Man goes even further back to a seed planted by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist John Romita Jr. in 2001. In the Amazing Spider-Man #473, the mysterious Ezekiel Sims, another version of Spider-Man, explains to Peter that he is neither the first or last Spider-Man.
In The Amazing Spider-Man #471 and later issue #489, Ezekiel explains that the Web of Life is maintained by the Master Weaver, who is in charge of weaving and taking care of the web. It is explained that the various incarnations of Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, and others across the Multiverse derive their spider-powers directly from the Web of Life.
In Web Warriors #1, we're given another look at the Web of Life in all its glory as its explained that there are 40,000 different types of spiders throughout the multiverse.
Whatever inspiration Into the Spider-Verse has taken from the comics, we'll be able to see for certain on December 14 when the film finally rolls out into theaters.