Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits cinemas today, making this the third Spider-film of this year. Yes, I'm counting Venom even though Spider-Man wasn't actually in it. It is a very good film, but like any good superhero film there's a lot more to see than just the story. God damn this film is packed with Easter eggs, and we sat down to try and spot as many of them as possible.
We probably missed a few, which will make someone in the comments rationally angry, but hey. These are all the best ones we managed to spot during our first run through:
The title of the film is an Easter egg within itself, pinching itself from the 2014 comic arc of the same name. That arc saw the spider-heroes (and villains) of the multiverse under threat from the dimension-hopping inheritors who feed on the life force of animal-themed heroes or 'totems'. As the only hero to have previously defeated an Inheritor, it was down to the Earth-616 Peter Parker to lead a multiversal army and save themselves from annihilation.
Spider-Verse also led to the recent still-ongoing Spidergeddon arc, and lent its name to two story arcs from the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series - the first of which is notable for featuring Donald Glover as Miles Morales.
The plot, which features Miles' home-reality being visited by other Spiderheroes, is also similar to the Spider-Men miniseries. That series saw Peter Parker banished to the Ultimate Universe by Mysterio, and he teams up with Miles to get home before it's too late.
Approved by the Comic Code Authority
Into the Spider-Verse's opening credits are essentially one big Easter egg, and the first one to pop up is a logo that appeared on comic covers for decades - declaring the film has been approved by the Comic Code Authority.
Historically the Comic Code Authority was a way for the comics industry to self-regulate, rather than face the prospect of having the US government do the job for them, and many have linked its foundation to the controversy that suggested comics promoted deviant behaviour in children - with the most infamous examples being Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent. The code banned publishers from depicting strong violence, gore, horror, and sexual innuendo, among other things. Distributors often helped enforce the code by refusing to handle work that wasn't CCA approved.
Eventually the CCA became lax with some rules, including strong violence, but eventually publishers started releasing comics intended for adult audiences that didn't adhere to the strict rules. By 2001 Marvel had adopted its own age rating system, while other publishers followed suit over the resulting decade. The CCA was eventually rendered defunct by January 2011, when DC and Archie Comics abandoned it.
The Origin Story
The film begins with Peter Parker running through a recap of his origin story, confirming all the important bits about his Spider-Heroics. Radioactive spider, Uncle Ben, Mary Jane, and so on. This montage features a number of callbacks to past media, including:
- Uncle Ben walking into the light, which is reminiscent of Ultimate Peter Parker's Death
- Peter and Mary Jane kissing in the rain, like the first Spider-Man film by Sam Raimi, though it's revealed here Mary Jane is the one hanging upside down
- A car being flung through a restaurant window, similar to the scene from Spider-Man 2
- That dance from Spider-Man 3
- The train scene from Spider-Man 2
- A shot reminiscent of the ferry scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming, though here it shows he's trying to save two buses from falling off a bridge
- The classic '60s theme song
- Various comic covers
- The rubbish popsicle that looks more like Deadpool. Somehow simultaneously with and without his mask.
The credits also include a shot of a spider with a stamp saying 'Alchemax 42'. Notable because that same spider is responsible for giving Miles his powers in both the comics and the recent PS4 game. The difference being this one came from Alchemax, and not Oscorp.
Featured prominently in the film is the science company Alchemax, which has been heavily featured in the comics - especially in the 2099 timeline. In the future Alchemax is one of the dominant corporate forces in the world, and is responsible for a lot of shady goings on. The company is also responsible for the accident that gave Miguel O'Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, his powers.
In the modern day it's revealed that Alchemax was founded by Peter Parker's former classmate Liz Allan, with some secret help from Norman Osborne. The company is the result of Allan Chemical merging with remnants of Horizon Labs and OsCorp (thanks to stock owned by her and Harry Osborne's son Normie).
With Great Power...
The classic Spider-Man line is alluded to at the start of the film, where Miles' father Jefferson tells his son that "with great ability comes great accountability". Miles tells him that's not right, but he clearly wasn't listening. Later on the elder Peter Parker would say the proper line to Peter Parker, mentioning its origins with Uncle Ben.
Like the comics Miles attends a prestigious private school in Brooklyn, and managed to get in thanks to a lottery system. It's a boarding school, with Miles' roommate Ganke quickly discovering his secret life as Spider-Man. Ganke features in the film, but isn't named as such and has zero lines. He's also a lot thinner here, likely to help differentiate him from Spider-Man: Homeomings' Ganke-esque Ned.
In the mainstream Marvel comics the Prowler is an anti-hero (and sometimes villainous) alter-ego of Hobie Brown, but in the Ultimate line Prowler is actually Miles' uncle Aaron. Aaron is a career criminal who stole a box containing the spider that gave Miles his powers, and quickly deduced his nephew's secret identity. After attempting to blackmail him the two got into a fight, resulting in Aaron's gauntlets exploding and seemingly killing him.
Later, following the Secret Wars event, it was revealed Aaron had survived and was transported to Earth-616. Here he stole a version of the Iron Spider armour and formed his own version of the Sinister Six. He later planned a heist that led to what appeared to be another death, but in reality Aaron had survived and given up his life of crime.
Aaron Davis also appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming played by Donald Glover. While we don't see him get up to many shenanigans, the karen AI reveals that MCU Aaron is also a career criminal that sometimes goes by the alias 'The Prowler'. During his interrogation with Peter he reveals he has a nephew living nearby, and in a deleted scene it's confirmed that said nephew is in fact called Miles.
The Great Web
Every time we see the multiverse show up in the film it appears as one giant spider-web, a concept pulled straight out of the comics. The Web of Life and Destiny, or 'The Great Web' has been a concept in the comics since 2001, and was recently shown to be a living model that represents the Marvel multiverse - and the place where all Spider-powered heroes ultimately derive their powers. Exploiting its power also enables some, including the Inheritors, to travel the multiverse.
When the supercollider activates it shows the current universe linking up with five other parallel universes. They're barely on screen for more than couple of seconds, meaning I missed most of them, but it mentioned that the 'prime' universe of the film is e-1610 - the same designation as the Ultimate universe in the comics. I also managed to grab e-616 (the mainstream universe), likely home to the older Peter Parker (played by Jack Johnson). I would guess that the other three are e-13 (home of Spider-Gwen), e-14512 (home of SP//dr), e-90214 (home of Spider-Man Noir), and e-8311 (home of Spider-Ham).
The Yellow Boxes
After gaining his powers Miles realises that his inner voice is louder than normal, showing up on screen as yellow boxes. Yellow boxes are often associated with Deadpool and his own inner voice, which for a long time was actually the villain Madcap stuck inside his head.
The Blonde Hair
In almost all incarnations Peter Parker is shown to have brown hair, but the Peter of Earth 1610 is blonde - something his counterpart comments on after arriving in that universe. The only Parker that does have blonde hair is Ben Reilly, who first appeared in The Clone Saga. Reilly is a clone of Peter, who then wasn't a clone, and then was suddenly a clone again, who had all the same powers and fought crime as the Scarlet Spider. He also dyed his hair blonde so that people could tell him apart from the original Peter Parker.
The Death of Peter Parker
Like the Ultimate comic line, Miles is set up to be the next Spider-Man after the death of Peter Parker. But things work out a little bit differently on-screen. For starters Peter is killed in a very different situation, having been injured by Green Goblin and Prowler while trying to take out Kingpin's Supercollider. Kingpin himself does the final deed, though in the comics it all came down to the Goblin.
Peter bleeds out while trying to protect Aunt May, Mary Jane, and Gwen Stacy from Green Goblin, while also fighting off a gunshot wound inflicted by the Punisher shortly before. That's what you get for trying to save Captain America's life. But, like the comics, Miles feels guilty since he had his powers and felt he could have done more to help, which inspires him to become a hero in his own right.
Batman The Animated Series
While trying to flee from his school's security officer, Miles finds himself inside the man's office and accidentally activates his streaming playlist. It immediately starts playing part of Spider-Man's Christmas album, with the lyrics:
"Jingle Bells, Goblin smells, [blank] laid an egg"
While I missed the second villain (it has to be Vulture, right?) it's a clear homage to Batman: The Animated Series. Specifically the Joker's own take on Jingle Bells:
Stan Lee's first posthumous cameo features him as the owner of a comic book shop called 'Stan's Collectables', the same comic book shop where Miles buys his Spider-Man costume. He gives Miles some wise advice, about how the costume will fit him eventually. It's almost as though Stan knew what Miles was going through.
Miles' first costume was bought from the comic shop, just like his original suit from the comics. In the comics Miles uses the costume after the death of Peter Parker, but gets some flack from bystanders because it's in poor taste. That's not the case in the film, but he does trade it in for a more unique getup towards the end of the film.
Peter B Parker
Differentiating himself from the Peter Parker of e-1610 that just died (played by Chris Pine), The Peter of e-616 refers to himself as Peter B Parker. Not only is that Peter's actual initial (his full name is Peter Benjamin Parker), the use of B is a clever and subtle way of differentiating him from the dead Peter.
While Miles has the same powerset as the Parker Spider-Man, he't got a few unique features too. For one thing he's able to attack with paralysing strikes dubbed 'venom strikes' and has the ability to turn in visible when threatened. Both powers come right out of the comics, and proved invaluable when he met a dimension-hopping Peter Parker.
The Other Spiders
Joining Miles and Peter are a selection of other spider-heroes from across the multiverse, almost all of whom got their powers from a radioactive spider-bite. They are:
- Spider-Woman, also known as Spider-Gwen, who is the Gwen Stacy of her earth. She became a hero after failing to prevent the death of Peter Parker, her best friend who became that universe's lizard in an attempt to gain powers for himself
- Spider-Man Noir, aka Peter Parker from a universe where it's 1933. He claims to be a private detective, which is new to the film and not from the comics, and became a hero after failing to top the death of his Uncle Benjamin. He also happens to be played by Nicholas Cage
- Peni Parker, a hero from the year 3145 who shares a psychic link with a radioactive spider who helps her control a robotic mech suit (called SP//dr) developed by her late father. Peni was originally co-created by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way. The same Gerard Way who wrote Umbrella Academy that is being adapted by Netflix
- Peter Porker, a spider who was transformed after being bitten by a radioactive pig (his Aunt May, believe it or not). He's a cartoon character from a universe of anthropomorphic animals
The Comic Covers
Each hero's origin comic cover mention their creators, the most obvious of which is the mention of 'Bendis' on Miles' cover. Bendis being Brian Michael Bendis, the man who created Miles and wrote all but his most recent solo series.
Speaking of which, once Miles gets his powers he refers to an in-universe comic for guidance. That comic features Spider-Man's origin, and is styled after Amazing Fantasy #15 - the comic where Spider-Man made his real world debut. A cover featuring 'Spider-Men' also appears on screen, clearing taking its name from the comic miniseries of the same name. Sadly that artwork seems original, and not based on of Spider-Men's covers.
The Suit Tips
Peter, with his 22 years of experience, gives Miles a bit of advice, including some tips on how to keep the suit clean. Just like Peter did in Spider-Men, among other things.
One of the film's twists is that Doc Ock is in fact a woman, called Olivia rather than Otto. As far as I can tell she's a completely original creation, with some organic-like tentacles. Like the standard Doc Ock she's a renowned scientist, though that's where the similarities end. Her closest existing counterpart is the Doc Ock of 2099, featured in the Shattered Dimensions video game. The costumes are similar, and the two are both lead scientists for a division of Alchemax, but that's about it.
The only other major female Ock from the multiverse is Octavia Otto, a hero from Earth 1104 - a universe where all the heroes are villains, and the villains are heroes. The rest of the Ocks seem to be the same fat dude we all know and love to hate.
The Spider Buggy
Featured in 1610 Parker's spider-shed is a version of the original Spider Mobile, an infamous addition to the comics from 1974. It made its debut when a car company approached Spider-Man to be a spokesperson for their new clean car engine. Things didn't work out so well, especially since Peter never learned to drive, and it wasn't seen for years. A copy of the original made its way into the Smithsonian, and Spider-Man made an upgraded version a few years ago when Parker Industries made him Tony Stark-level rich.
1610 Parker has a number of costumes in his Spider-Shed, many of which we've seen before. In there are:
- A red suit modelled after the Scarlet Spider suit worn by Kaine
- A take on the Advanced Suit from the recent PS4 game. It looked like this one appeared twice in different cabinets, unless my eyes were deceiving me
- Spider Armour Mark I and II
- The suit from the Secret War arc
- The Stealth Suit that first debuted in Big Time
- The Iron Spider from Civil War (not to be confused with the one featured in Infinity War)
That's All Folks!
Spider-Ham's final line of the film is Porky Pig's famous line from Looney Toons - a line Peter points out as being legally questionable
The Desk Meme
The Into the Spider-Verse credits are well worth watching for great art sequences, but one sticks out. It's Spider-Man sitting behind a desk from the '60s TV series, which has been turned into the above meme. It was also referenced in Web Warriors when Spider-Gwen crashes through the Daily Bugle window.
The Stan Lee Quote
In the middle of the credits the film flashes up a quote from Stan Lee on heroism, saying:
“That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero. ”
It's reminiscent of scenes earlier in the film where Mary Jane iterates that anyone can be a superhero, and it was just circumstance that Peter had the Spider-powers. The quote pays memoriam to Stan Lee, who died last month, and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko who died last year.
The Post-Credits Scene
Arguably the most famous Spider-Man after Peter and Miles is Miguel O'Hara, the Spider-Man of Earth-928 and the year 2099. Here he makes his big-screen debut in the post-credit scene, played by Star Wars actor Oscar Isaac, where it's revealed he was watching the multiversal tomfoolery going on as a result of Kingpin's supercollider.
He's seen conversing with someone, presumably his holographic AI assistant Lyla, and it's revealed that he has a wrist-gadget that lets him traverse the multiverse at will. A similar gadget was used an inter-dimensional Spider-Team in Web Warriors - a spin-off of Spider-Verse that featured the likes of Spider-Gwen, Miles, and more.
But that's not all. Miguel uses the device to travel to Earth-67, which is "where it all began". He's then transported to an episode of the '60s Spider-Man series, where he engages in a version of the scene that gave us the 'pointing' meme.