With great power comes great responsibility, and with great Spider-Man movies come even greater cameos. If Spider-Man: No Way Home was any indication that Spidey knows how to rally the troops, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has doubled down on the character’s massive universe full of cameo-able stars.
Spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Across the Spider-Verse begins with Gwen’s (Hailee Steinfeld) big discovery of the Spider-Society: a big, secret world full of Spider-People from different dimensions. Not everyone gets an invite—especially not her pal Miles (Shameik Moore), who has been restricted from joining the society for mysterious reasons. Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), a strictly no-nonsense Spider-Man, runs the group, and he makes the call to keep Miles out of their ranks.
Seeing as the Spider-Society’s futuristic, multiverse-traversing landscape is seemingly made up entirely of different Spider-People, the movie has opened itself up for a bunch of cameos. Of course, we’re going to see (albeit briefly) returning characters like Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), SP//dr (Kimiko Glenn), and the dopey Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), who now has a tiny baby girl (with Spidey powers of her own). But we’re also going to meet Lego Spider-Man, Insomniac’s Spider-Man from the PlayStation video games, and a whole array of other new and familiar arachnid-infused beings.
Those aren’t the cameos we’re most excited about, though. We’re talking about the two live-action actors who appear, breaking the animation’s fourth-wall to show their real faces on screen. But who are they, and where did they come from?
The first live-action cameo to appear isn’t even a member of the Spider Society. She’s just chilling in the Multiverse—you know how things go in the Marvel world. It’s Ms. Chen (Peggy Lu), from Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, who makes an appearance in one scene of the film. Ms. Chen has been a fixture in Sony’s ongoing Venom series, the owner of a bodega frequented by Venom and Eddie (Tom Hardy) who has been possessed by Venom a few times over.
Early into the film, Miles’ new enemy, the Spot (Jason Schwartzman), realizes the full extent of his powers. Spot can slip and slide through different universes using spot-like portals on his body—leading him to Venom and Eddie Brock’s land. Oh, how I wish I could visit the boys! Ms. Chen smacks some sense into the Spot before he steals some of her gum. I’m always grateful to see a bit of the Venom Universe; please, Spider-Verse, I beg you to bring back the toothy fellow for the sequel. Ms. Chen is great, but we want more Venom!
No shade to Ms. Chen, who feels like a dear friend, but the next cameo is definitely bigger, considering this character comes from the MCU. Well, maybe.
A live-action Prowler, played now by Donald Glover and not voiced by Mahershala Ali like his animated Spider-Verse counterpart, is locked in a cage in the Spider-Society. One of the Spider-People has captured the bad guy and locked him up. As Miles walks through the halls of the group’s HQ, he notices this strange-looking figure, stops, and looks at him with wide eyes. Once Glover’s character notices him, he asks Miles—who has plenty of history with the villain; his Uncle Aaron (Ali) turned out to be the Prowler in the first film, leading to his death—not to stare.
Though the scene is so short—definitely not as long as Ms. Chen’s sassy sequence—but it’s still a welcome surprise, and perhaps opens up new possibilities for the future of Spider-Verse. Glover previously had a brief appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming as that film’s version of Aaron, which means he could have come from MCU Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) Earth, Earth-199999.
We’ve only ever seen Glover’s version of Prowler in the MCU—until now. So, is this a Sony exclusive version of the character? Sony characters like Venom and Eddie (it always comes back to Venom and Eddie) have bounced into the MCU, so perhaps it’s time for MCU characters to take their turn at popping into the Sony world. Michael Keaton’s Vulture appeared in both Homecoming and the post-credits scene for Sony’s Morbius. Meanwhile, J.K. Simmons has played J. Jonah Jameson across every single universe in the multiverse, no matter MCU or Sony—so maybe Glover is following suit, and this is a Sony-exclusive version of Prowler.
Even without confirmation that this is the MCU’s Prowler or a Holland appearance alongside him, Across the Spider-Verse is not without its appearances from historic live-action Spider-Men, though. Though not in full-on cameos, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s takes on the character separately appear in flashback sequences, featuring brief clips from their prior movies. As we’re gearing up for the next part of this multiverse mayhem—Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse—hopefully we can expect wild new cameos. Earth-199999, Miles is coming for you.
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