People who have seen the trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse typically have two reactions: one, “Gee, that looks awesome,” or two, “what’s the deal with all the Spider-Men.” Now that San Diego Comic Con has rolled around and reports of the footage from the film shown at the Sony panel is making the rounds, there are a few more Spider-Men (and women) for you to keep straight. This article is here to help you know who’s who.
If you are a longtime comic book fan, much of this will be just a refresher to you. But if you need further clarification, read on.
Alternate Universes, Briefly Explained
If you’ve ever watched a CW Arrowverse show or are a fan of Star Trek, then you should already up on alternate universes. However, if you aren’t, simply put, alternate universes are duplicate realities similar to our own in many ways, but much different in others. An example of this in film is It’s a Wonderful Life. Clarence shows George Bailey an alternate reality where he was never born. That reality is far darker and sadder than the one George was currently living in.
Marvel’s alternate realities were tied into time travel. Any time a character went back into time, it caused an alternate reality. This was because the universe does not allow a person to change their own past. When someone goes back in time, a new reality is created, and any changes he makes to the timeline will be reflected in that new reality. When he goes back to the “present,” it won’t be the one he came from, but the “present” in the new reality he created.
Since time travel is fairly prevalent in the Marvel Universe, there are a lot of alternate realities to choose from–hundreds as a matter of fact. Each alternate reality is cataloged as Earth plus a number (for example, the mainstream Marvel universe is named Earth-616).Marvel had a series called What If? that ran for hundreds of issues over several volumes and, with a few exceptions, each issue was in a new and unique alternate reality. So, there are literally hundreds of potential Spider-People for the producers to choose from.
I’m not going to list all the alternate versions of Spider-Man, because I have a life I’d like to get back to eventually. But we’ll go over the characters we know are in the film and the ones who might not have been announced but are most likely to appear in the film as a cameo at least.
Let’s start with the Spider-Man who started it all:
Peter Parker, Spider-Man, Earth-616
Created In: 1962
By: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15
Story: The Peter Parker version of Spider-Man appears to have only a supporting role in this film, but I can’t not list him first. If you ever read a Spider-Man comic in your life, it probably starred him.
By now the origin should be ingrained in your head. Peter Parker was a high school student who was bitten by a radioactive spider at a science demonstration. The bite gave Peter the powers of the spider, which he used to become a celebrity. However, when his Uncle Ben was killed by a burglar Peter originally had the chance to stop but didn’t, he realized that with great power comes great responsibility. From that point on, he fought crime as Spider-Man.
The Peter Parker in the film seems a bit older than the one currently in comics, so he could be another version of him, or an alternate created just for the film.
Miles Morales, Spider-Man, Earth-1610
Created In: 2011
By: Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
First Appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4
Story: The Miles Morales Spider-Man appears to be the lead Spider-Man in the film, which will make a number of his many, many fans very happy.
Miles comes from the “Ultimate Universe,” a line of books Marvel created in 2000 featuring new versions of some of Marvel’s most popular characters intended to serve as an entry-level alternative to the decades-old main Marvel continuity. However, by 2011, this brand-new continuity was just as convoluted as the mainstream one, and thing needed to be shaken up.
Miles Morales was bitten by a genetically altered spider based on this universe Peter Parker. When this reality’s Parker died in battle with the Green Goblin, Morales becomes Spider-Man to carry on with his legacy.
Gwen Stacy, Spider-Gwen/Spider Woman, Earth-65
Created In: 2014
By: Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez
First Appearance: Edge of the Spider-Verse #2
Story: Most alternate realities provide a slight twist on the status quo to make something new. Such is the case with “Spider-Gwen.”
On Earth-65, it was Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s doomed loved interest in the Earth-616 reality, who was bitten by a spider, not Peter. She became Spider-Woman of this reality, and used her spider powers to fight crime.
The character first appeared in the prelude to the 2014 Spider-Man comic crossover, Spider-Verse. That storyline resulted on all Marvel’s spider-characters uniting to fight off a race of beings who are hunting them. Spider-Gwen was one of the characters created for the event, and got her own series not long after. Given the film’s title and Spider-Gwen being a cast member, you might wonder if that comic book storyline will be part of the films plot. There are more clues point in that direction to come.
Peter Parker, Spider-Man (Noir), Earth-90214
Created In: 2008
By: David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico
First Appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1
Story: In 2008, Marvel decided to reimagine some of their heroes as hard-boiled, pulp-tinged adventurers in a 1930s setting with their “Noir” line. Spider-Man was one of the first and most popular characters to be adapted into the line.
In this reality, Peter Parker gains his powers in 1933 as a result of a spider bite from a spider that was hiding in a mystical artifact. He uses his new powers to try and free his city from the grips of a vicious crimelord named The Goblin.
Nicolas Cage will be voicing the character in the film.
Peter Porker, Spider-Ham, Earth-25
Created In: 1983
By: Tom DeFalco and Mark Armstrong
First Appearance: Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #1
Story: Ah, the 1980s, when Marvel would throw just about any concept against the wall to see if it stuck.
Spider-Ham was part of Marvel’s stab at creating anthropomorphic versions of their favorite characters (others created at the same time: Captain AmeriCat, Hulk-Bunny and Goose Rider), The character appeared in the debut one-shot listed above, had his own series for a brief period time and was regularly revived whenever Marvel attempted a humor magazine.
Spider-Ham is a spider who was bitten by a radioactive pig–scientist May Porker. The spider morphed into a pig while retaining its spider abilities. He decided to use his abilities to fight crime as Spider-Han.
The character’s appearance was confirmed at the Sony panel at SDCC 2018 and John Mulaney will be voicing him.
Peni Parker, SP//dr, Earth-14512
Created In: 2014
By: Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt
First Appearance: Edge of the Spider-Verse #5
Story: There is some confusion about which “Penny/Peni Parker” will be in the film. Many sites covering the Sony panel claimed that it was Penny Parker on screen in the footage Sony showed at SDCC, others Peni. They are not interchangeable and are in fact two separate characters. I’m leading towards “Peni” being in the film, but will throw a blurb for Penny down below to be safe.
Peni Parker is a 14-year-old girl who volunteers to bond with a radioactive spider in order to pilot SP//dr, a mechanized suit of armor. Peni’s father died in the suit years earlier, but Peni follows in his footseps because her DNA is the only one compatible with the suit and the spider.
This character was co-created by My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way as part of the Spider-Verse crossover.
There are plenty of obscure spider characters confirmed to be in the film. The question is, will there be more? And if so, who? Here are what I think might be some likely candidates for screen time in the film, if there are most Spider-characters involved.
Penelope “Penny” Parker, Spider-Girl, Earth-11
Created In: 2014
By: Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos
First Appearance: Spider-Verse #1
Story: Yet another character created for the Spider-Verse comic book crossover, which hints that that storyline will at least be partially at play in the film.
Penny Parker is an 11-year-old girl who was bitten by a radioactive spider on a class trip. She decides to use these powers to fight crime, even thought she thinks they are gross.
Some websites state that this character was the one shown on screen during Sony’s panel. I’m 99% sure it will be Peni Parker (listed above), but I’ll cover my butt by listing her here.
Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099, Earth-928
Created In: 1992
By: Peter David and Rick Leonardi
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #365/Spider-Man 2099 #1
Story: In another attempt to wring money from its fans through alternate versions of their most popular heroes, Marvel started the 2099 line in 1992. The line promised to be a look at the future of the Marvel Universe in the far-flung future. A new version of Spider-Man was one of the flagship titles in the line.
This Spidey is Miguel O’Hara, a geneticist working on creating a super-powered army for his employer, Alchemax. However, when he tries to leave, his boss doses him with the highly addictive drug Rapture. Miguel attempts to recode his DNA to get rid of his addiction, but the process is sabotaged by a jealous coworker. Miguel’s DNA becomes recoded to include 50% spider DNA. The end result is Miguel gaining the powers of Spider-Man. His assumes that name as he fights his corrupt employers and crime in general,
Spider-Man 2099 is arguably the most popular Spider-Man offshoot not to appear in footage from the film. I can’t see them including Peni Parker or Spider-Ham and not giving Miguel at least a cameo.
Peter Parquagh, The Spider, Earth-311
Created In: 2003
By: Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
First Appearance: Marvel 1602 #1
Story: In 2003, Marvel gave superstar writer Neil Gaiman free reign to play in the Marvel Universe, the result was 1602, an alternate reality tale where all the heroes created during Marvel’s Silver Age first appeared back in the 1600’s.
Peter Parquagh was an intelligent boy who was drafted into the service of Sir Nicholas Fury, acting as his assistant. When he was bitten by a spider dosed in magical dimensional energy, he gained the powers of the spider. Calling himself The Spider, he decided to fight crime.
It is Peter Parquagh’s death that sets the Spider-verse crossover into motion. If that is the road the film goes down, then we might see him on the big screen.
May Parker, Spider-Girl, Earth-982
Created In: 1997
By: Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz
First Appearance: What If Vol. 2 #105
Story: Spider-Girl comes from another examination of a possible future for the Marvel Universe, this one called MC2.
May Parker is the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson who starts developing powers like her father while in high school. Initially against her parents wishes, she goes into the crime-fighting business.
The character had a pretty long run in a number of different series, garnering a small but loyal base of fans. It would provide an interesting dynamic if she would appear in the film.
Cindy Moon, Silk, Earth-616
Created In: 2014
By:Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man Vol 3 #1
Story: Cindy Moon was a classmate of Peter Parker’s who was bitten by the same radioactive spider that Peter was on the same class trip. She was taken from her parents when she was unable to control her powers and was only freed when she became an adult. With a handle on her abilities, Cindy became the hero known as Silk and began a career as a crimefighter.
Sony intends to feature Silk in a live-action film, so whether she appears in this film might come down to whether Sony wants to expose her to audiences before her film or to keep her a mystery.