Note: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is bringing the web-slinger’s multiverse to the big screen in an even bigger manner than its 2018 predecessor. Given the scope of its multiversal exploration and the fact that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker fought alongside two of his variants in Spider-Man: No Way Home, audiences wondered whether or not Across the Spider-Verse would tie into Sony’s live-action Spider-Man franchises.
Well, the film does indeed feature multiple direct connections to the studio’s other Peter Parker iterations. Below are the ties the sequel has to its live-action counterparts.
Following a mishap with his powers, Spot (Jason Schwartzman) finds himself inside his own portal world, surrounded by doorways to different dimensions. He then starts exploring the worlds, going into one which was seemingly inspired by ’40s animated films (or old comics), as well as a Lego realm. However, arguably the most notable world he visits is Venom‘s.
Blending animation and live-action in a manner akin to Mary Poppins and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, an animated Spot enters the store of Mrs. Chen (Peggy Lu), one of the most prominent supporting characters in the Venom franchise. For those unfamiliar with the series, Mrs. Chen is a convenience-store owner who befriends Eddie Brock and eventually his alien alter ego. In 2021’s Let There Be Carnage, the Venom symbiote even takes up Mrs. Chen as a host following a fight with Eddie.
Upon realizing that Mrs. Chen isn’t surprised to see him, Spot asks her if she lives in a universe where beings like himself are commonplace, referencing the increasingly populated universe Eddie Brock finds himself in. Though the franchise so far only consists of two Venom movies and Morbius, the saga will expand with Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web.
Tom Holland’s Spider-Man
The MCU Spider-Man is referenced fairly early on in the film, when Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) and Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman (Issa Rae) travel to Gwen Stacy’s world to capture a universe-displaced Vulture. As he talks about the state of the multiverse, Miguel delivers the now famous line from Across the Spider-Verse‘s second trailer:
"“Don’t even get me started on Doctor Strange and the little nerd back on Earth-199999.”"
That, though, does not seem to be the only connection Across the Spider-Verse has to the MCU’s Peter Parker. As Miles is introduced to the Spider Society’s headquarters in Nueva York, he is shown an area where villains from different worlds are kept before being sent back to their respective universe. One of the baddies is Donald Glover in live-action, reprising his role as Aaron Davis, Miles Morales’ uncle, following his debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
This time, however, he is dressed in a Prowler armor. He later makes another brief appearance, still inside his containment unit. As for how he ended up there, it’s explained that he was caught by Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya). While this seems to be the MCU Prowler due to him being portrayed by Donald Glover, he could also be another version of Aaron Davis.
It’s tricky to speculate on the possibility of the cameo pointing to a bigger role for Glover in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ultimately, his appearance could have just been a fun moment for the actor to suit up as the character without the need to have an entire live-action storyline setting up his costumed alter ego.
Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man
In the film, it’s explained that every Spider-Person is destined to experience the death of a police captain, a tragedy dubbed a “canon” event. Miles is then shown a series of spider heroes enduring such moment. One of them is Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker in front of a dying Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) following their battle against the Lizard in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
The moment is footage taken directly from the film, but colored orange, as a hologram. The camera then zooms in on Garfield’s face as he mourns Stacy.
Despite being the biggest, that was not the only reference to the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. When Miles witnesses the many deaths of Uncle Ben across the multiverse, one of the death scenes is taken from Beenox’s 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a game tie-in to the 2014 film of the same name, which pitted Spidey against Electro, the Green Goblin and Rhino.
Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man
Another canon event in Spider-Man’s history is revealed to be Uncle Ben’s death. Among the many Ben demises played, one of them is Tobey Maguire’s Peter crying for his father figure as he dies on the street, from 2002’s Spider-Man.
There is also a very minor reference to Maguire’s Spider-Man franchise when, earlier on in the film, Spot does a variation of Doc Ock’s (Alfred Molina) often-quoted line from 2004’s Spider-Man 2: “The power of the sun in the palm of my hand.”
In Across the Spider-Verse, however, Spot refers to his dimensional-portal abilities. Though not a visual reference to Maguire’s world, it’s still a clever nod showing just how connected Spider-Man’s various universes are.
J. Jonah Jameson
J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson seems to be one of the few consistent characters in the Spider-Man multiverse. Following his appearances in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and No Way Home, Simmons is back in Across the Spider-Verse, voicing everyone’s favorite grumpy newspaper editor/podcaster in three different universes.
His voice can first be heard in Spider-Woman’s (Gwen Stacy) universe; he is later heard again in the aforementioned Lego world, with reused lines from Sam Raimi’s films. His last cameo is on Earth-42, where Miles is revealed to have become the Prowler. Though brief, Simmons’ presence serves as a major connective thread between the Spider-Verse films and their live-action counterparts.
When Gwen and Miles reunite after over a year apart, she tells him about the multiverse group of Spider-People she is a part of. When she gets to Miguel O’Hara, the leader of the Spider Society, she describes him as a vampire who’s actually a hero.
This prompts Miles to state that he would watch a movie about a vampire who’s a hero, which could be a reference to 2022’s Morbius, starring Jared Leto. Of course, the line may simply be a non-related quip. Yet, given Sony’s attempted use of Morbius as one of the building blocks of its nascent franchise, the bit of dialogue could be taken as Sony referencing its world-building efforts.
It’s important to mention that, while these are all the references we found, considering Across the Spider-Verse‘s intricacy, the film is likely filled with many more nods to Spider-Man’s previous live-action entries.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now in theaters.
What did you think about Across the Spider-Verse‘s connection to Sony’s live-action Spider-Man universe? What did you think of the film? Let us know in the comments!