Spoilers for ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ below
It’s natural for sequels to go bigger in an attempt to be better, but that’s a much taller order when the first installment already covered something expansive as the Multiverse. That was the creative corner Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which arrives in theaters this weekend, had to break out of. The first flick, 2018’s Academy Award-winning Into the Spider-Verse, already featured a bevy of different Spider-people (including a talking Spider-Pig voiced by John Mulaney). So for the second go-round the only way to go was to include every Spider-person ever.
Across the Spider-Verse delivers on this promise, with more Spiders-Men than ever before—even a few not hinted at in the trailer, like the Spider-Man from the recent (and popular) Sony PlayStation game series as well as long-time Spidey voice actor Josh Keaton’s Spectacular Spider-Man from the beloved 2008 animated series of the same name. What audiences were not prepared for is the live-action cameos—arguably the most talked about of which is Donald Glover.
Glover’s history with Spider-Man spins back to the 2010 online campaign #Donald4Spiderman, which saw fans clamoring for the actor—then most famous for his role on Community— to be the next Peter Parker to take up the mask as Sony rebooted the franchise. Andrew Garfield ended up as Spider-Man, and his Amazing Spider-Man series lasted for two films before getting axed in favor of bringing Peter Parker into the MCU. Glover and Garfield got a cool picture out of it though.
The lingering memory of the campaign was enough to net Glover a role in the next Spidey reboot seven years later: Tom Holland’s first solo MCU movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming. In that film, Glover appears as petty criminal Aaron Davis, who in the comics (but not in this film), becomes the villain Prowler. In one telling bit of dialog, Davis mentions to Spidey that he’s got a nephew who lives in the neighborhood. This is, of course, a winking nod to Miles Morales, the half-Latino, half-Black Spider-Man introduced by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli in the 2011 comic book series., Bendis has said that he drew inspiration from Glover to create Miles.
Across the Spider-Verse finally bridges the gap between Miles’ first big-screen mention to his own big-screen film. As Miles visits the multiversal Spider-Man hub led by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), it’s noted that the events of Into the Spider-Verse have caused some instability and that villains from other realities are crossing over. Once captured, the reality-hopping villains are contained in the hub before being sent to their home universes. One of the captured foes? Glover, in the flesh, as Aaron Davis once more. Only this time, he’s wearing a Prowler costume inspired by the one the animated Aaron (voiced by Mahershala Ali) wore during Into the Spider-Verse.
It’s unclear if this Prowler is the same Aaron Davis from Homecoming (and, therefore, the MCU), but it doesn’t matter. The brief moment is a fun way to pay off a throwaway line and provide another full-circle moment for Glover—. Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t happen without Miles, who doesn’t happen without Glover. It’s always a nice moment when all the strands of a web connect together.—but now, with the opportunities afforded by the multiverse, can we please give Donald Glover more than a cameo?