Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-people
What happens when a portal opens to multiple Spider-people? The directors of Spider-man: Into The Spider-verse introduce their six distinct webslingers
1 miles morales/spider-man
(Shameik Moore) Peter Ramsey, co-director: A few years ago, Marvel created this whole other line of comics, with alternate versions of classic characters. The Ultimate Spider-man version was Miles Morales.
Bob Persichetti, co-director: The movie is an origin story for Miles. He’s a young Brooklyn teen, half African-american, half Puerto Rican. He has a very different life history to Peter Parker. We introduce the Spider-verse, but we kind of use the Miles Morales origin story as our vehicle to do that.
Rodney Rothman, co-director: When we meet him, he’s basically an average 13-year-old kid. He just started a new school. His relationship with his dad has been getting more complicated. His life has become more complicated. And it’s about to get a lot more complicated.
2 PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN
(Jake Johnson) Rothman: Our guideline was to treat Peter like a retired 40-year-old athlete. He’s carrying a lot of life mileage. He’s carrying a little extra weight. We [took] a beloved character and [imagined] what his life would be like ten to 15 years later. Ramsey: We had a little fun with the idea that everybody knows Spider-man. We’re not literally saying this is the same universe as the Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield movies — it’s more a commentary on the ubiquity of Spider-man in popular culture. A lot of our movie is about the pressure of stepping into the role of a legend when that legend already exists.
3 gwen stacy/ spider-gwen
(Hailee Steinfeld) Ramsey: In the classic Spider-man comics, Gwen was of course Peter
Parker’s girlfriend who ultimately dies. Spider-gwen is a more recent addition. Persichetti: She comes from an alternate universe where Peter Parker dies and she ends up getting bitten by a spider instead. She’s kind of a peer for Miles, but she’s been Spider-gwen for much longer, and has already had her origin story happen off screen. She’s intimidating to him, and he has to earn her respect.
4 PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN NOIR
(Nicolas Cage) He’s 1930s Spider-man. All black and white.
Ramsey: He’s prone to dark emotions and brooding — and Nic Cage can embody those attitudes and add a little humour to them. It was one of those instances where the casting kind of added a meta-level to the character.
Persichetti: Nic Cage is the ultimate voice actor to deliver those Raymond Chandler-esque lines. He’s like pulp Spider-man.
Ramsey: We encourage the actors to bring whatever they can to make these characters sing in their own voices. This character was written with a very specific voice — but Nic took it and made it his own.
5 Peni PARKER/SP//DR
(Kimiko Glenn) Persichetti: She’s from future New York. She’s a Japanese-american girl with a robot built by her father. She has a psychic link to a radioactive spider [in the robot].
Rothman: Visually, she comes from a kind of anime world. Her powers are in tandem with her robot, which makes perfect sense in the future.
Persichetti: She’s a nine-year-old girl with a robot. If you can’t have fun with that, there’s something wrong.
6 peter porker / spider-ham
Persichetti: There was a lot of debate: “Do we do the pig? Do we not do the pig?” Rothman: He’s from a cartoon world. We drew a lot of inspiration from 1940s and 1950s 2D cel animation.
Persichetti: He’s a product of old What If ? Marvel comics. Our challenge was really, “Okay, he’s fun, but we have to treat him like a real Spider-man.” It became more entertaining and layered and complex when we started to put the attributes of Peter Parker on top of the silly cartoon-world pig. In his universe, he is Spider-man. He’s got to be as heroic and self-sacrificing as any of the others. It really helped ground him. In a totally ridiculous way.
The Spider-verse directors spoke to Empire on the phone from Sony Pictures Animation’s offices in Culver City, California, on 10 October.
The colourful characters of the alternate Spider-verse.