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Warning – The rest of this article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has arrived and it is the biggest love letter to Spider-Man ever made.
Spider-Man: No Way Home was the live-action version of this movie in a lot of ways and was the payoff of 20 years of Spider-Man at the theaters. There was even a mention of the events of No Way Home in Across The Spider-Verse.
But the sequel to the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse goes toe to toe in paying homage to the movies of web-head’s past.
Dozens of easter-eggs, Marvel references, and animated cameos across the Spider-Verse are featured, but the seven live-action cameos are what break the fourth wall and grab the attention of the Spidey-faithful.
Mrs. Chen is a key side character in the Venom franchise as a San Francisco bodega owner. Peggy Lu’s brief cameo as Mrs. Chen was a part of the marketing campaign for Across the Spider-Verse so it was not a shock, but a welcome surprise.
If fans were given the choice of which character from the Venom universe to be in this film, Mrs. Chen would receive the vast majority of the vote.
This cameo was a major shock for audiences as Donald Glover was back in his role of Aaron Davis 6 years after his first appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Moving forward, it will be tough to find a list of the best comic book movie cameos that does not feature Glover’s live-action Prowler.
The meta importance of this cameo and the seed planted for a potential reprisal in a live-action Mile Morales movie is exciting, but this cameo is bigger than the story. Donald Glover dressed as Spider-Man in the Season 2 premiere of Community in 2010. This bit inspired legendary comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis to create Miles Morales, and the rest is history.
Along with the Roger Rabbit-esque cameos from Lu and Glover, there was also a handful of cameos via archival footage from Sony Spider-Man movies from the past 23 years.
These are shown while Miguel O’Hara is explaining the key moments in every Spider-Man’s life that build the Spider-Verse Canon.
One of those moments is the death of a police captain/father figure that is most often in the form of Captain George Stacy. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was shown experiencing this keystone trauma in a clip from The Amazing Spider-Man.
After Spider-Man: No Way Home, Andrew Garfield fans have been pining for a non-MCU return for the Spidey-actor. This moment will surely do nothing but fuel the fire of the #MakeTASM3 movement.
The other key moment displayed is the death of an aunt or uncle every Spider-Man must endure. There are a handful of shots from the iconic uncle ben scene in Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man.
Any Spider-Man fan born before this century owes plenty of their fandom to Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy and these moments will surely spark a rewatch in many fans.
These canon events not only show Peter Parker’s involvement but also the people lost in these events. Denis Leary’s Captain Stacy is shown in his death scene from The Amazing Spider-Man.
Much like Leary’s Captain Stacy, Cliff Robertson’s Uncle Ben is shown alongside Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker in his death scene from Spider-Man. The original live-action Uncle Ben gets his moment within this decade’s Spider-Man renaissance.
To this day Kirsten Dunst remains the only theatrically released live-action Mary-Jane Watson (Zendaya’s name in the Homecoming trilogy is Michelle).
For as many iconic moments as the Raimi trilogy has, none are more culturally relevant that the moment shown here as Mary-Jane and Peter kiss upside down in the rain.
Throughout this montage of iconic Spider-Man movie moments, Tom Holland does not make an appearance. There are a few theories as to why that is (see below) but the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man was not completely absent from this trip down memory lane.
While Miguel goes through the key canon moments, Alfred Molina’s voice can be heard saying his now iconic catchphrase “Hello Peter”. Chills.
The blend of live-action and animation is one of many bold swings taken in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. While there is no telling what the future holds for this revolutionary franchise, the idea of these movies transitioning into what will be the live-action Miles Morales is more prominent than ever.
There is also a very obvious and exciting lack of Tom Holland. Sony is surely saving their most valuable Peter Parker for Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.
The idea to explain why Holland’s Spider-Man is not a part of the canon-event scene in the Spider-Society is because the core of the MCU Spider-Man is diametrically opposed to the mission statement of Spider-Man 2099’s Spider-Society.
The Spider-Society’s purpose is to contain the structural foundation of the Spider-Verse by making sure canon moments keep the web strong. This includes accepting the death of some of the most important people in Spider-Man’s life to give those wall-crawlers the push they need to become the Spider-People they are supposed to be.
Tom Holland’s Peter Parker spent all of Spider-Man: No Way Home going against that idea. Despite the powerful nature of the multiverse, Holland’s Spider-Man refused to not try to save everyone.
The very ideology that turns Miles from a welcome guest to Spider enemy number one.