How ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ pulled off that surprise live-action cameo (spoilers)

(Everett Collection/Getty Images)

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” included a crowd-pleasing cameo from a key “Spider-Man: Homecoming” star and Spidey superfan. (Photo: Everett Collection/Getty Images)

Warning: Major Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse spoilers ahead!

The animated, live-action Spider-Verses have officially crossed streams.

There are not one but two appearances in the flesh of live-action actors Spidey movies in Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Versethe new hit animated sequel that follows the multiverse adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and their friends Spider.

The first cameo comes early, as Miles’ tough new adversary, The Spot (Jason Schwartzman), traverses a live-action dimension that finds him face-to-face with Ms. Chen (Peggy Lu), the shopkeeper who trades beards with Tom Hardy’s titular anti-hero in 2018 Venom and its 2021 sequel, Venom: let there be carnage.

The second surprise, however, had fans frenzied following Through the Spider-VerseThe heroic $120 million opening weekend – especially as to what that could potentially mean for future live-action Spider-Verse entries.

As Miles and Gwen are introduced to hundreds of spiders (and even a few spider animals) in the alternate dimension of Earth-928, home to the Spider-Society led by Miguel O’Hara, they come across a few imprisoned figures waiting to transport in their respective worlds.

One of them is The Prowler aka Aaron Davis aka Miles Morales’ uncle – but not the animated version we were shown in 2019 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, voiced by Mahershala Ali. It’s the live-action embodiment, played in full costume by Donald Glover, who appeared as Davis – in street clothes and never before seen as his alter ego – in 2017’s Tom Holland starring Spider-Man: Homecoming.

“It’s rude to watch,” Davis says to a gob-smacked Miles as Gwen and Hobie, aka Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), bicker over which of them captured him.

Glover’s first appearance in Back home was itself a very layered Easter egg. The actor’s love of Spider-Man led to a fan campaign for him to replace Tobey Maguire on the big screen – a role that ultimately went to Andrew Garfield. At the time, Glover was acting on television Community, which paid tribute to the love of fans by featuring Glover in Spidey pajamas. One of the viewers of this episode was a Marvel Comics writer who was inspired to create the character of Miles Morales… who Glover eventually voiced in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man. Do you have all that?

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Through the Spider-Verse Co-director Kemp Powers explained how the filmmakers pulled off the Glover scene – and which live-action Spider-Man they heavily considered for the cameo as well. (Watch our full interview with Powers above.)

“At first there was a lot of excitement about someone from the live-action movies making an appearance,” says Powers (One night in Miami, Soul), who directed the film with Joaquim Dos Santos and Justin K. Thompson from a screenplay written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. “And animation is iterative. It’s an iterative process, so you work on storyboards and that’s just what keeps us entertained. So we’ve shipped versions where Andrew Garfield is there and he’s talking. And it was like, ‘OK, that’s kinda cute.’ »

(Garfield and fellow former Peter Parker Tobey Maguire, who both showed up in 2021 Spider-Man: No Coming Homeappear in archive footage in Through the Spider-Verse; we also hear the voice of one of Peter’s most feared villains, Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. As to why we don’t see Holland? Remember, Doctor Strange’s sorcery created everyone forget its Peter Parker was Spider-Man at the end of No coming home.)

Powers continues, “But then we lined up a version where they see The Prowler and it was Donald Glover. Something about it clicked in a very, very funny way. And of course, one of the first things we wanted to do was reach out and see if Donald was okay with it. And luckily he was.

Powers says Glover’s cameo was filmed during a day in New York.

“Chris Miller flew over there, me and Phil Lord were on the other side, on camera. And then we just worked over the course of a day where we gave him a few lines and explored a few different gags with Miles who was passing. And I think that’s great. We like people to guess the guests and then get it wrong, and the surprise is just as entertaining as what you think you’ll encounter.

So what does Glover’s cameo as The Prowler mean for the actor and character’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Unsurprisingly, speculation has run wild, especially in light of recent comments from producer Amy Pascal that a Miles Morales live-action movie is on the way.

But as Powers, Lord, and Miller all told Yahoo, they had no conversations with Marvel boss Kevin Feige about any residual effects or MCU ties spawned by Through the Spider-Verse.

“It just comes from this being like, ‘Okay, if we’re going to do a live-action character appearing in this world, who should it be? ‘” Powers adds. “And we tried a few different ones and that’s just the one that made us all smile.”

Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse play now.

Watch stars Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Issa Rae and Daniel Kaluuya discuss the film:

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