Those screams you just heard? Spoiler alert: they are your own screams, after watching the end of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse on VOD (Video on Demand). They’re also the same screams heard in movie theaters across the country when the hit animated sequel to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse rolled its “To Be Continued” before cutting to the end credits. Sure, we knew there was a sequel coming (that would be Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, which should be released at some indeterminate point in the future). But not like this! Not like this!
That said, even with all the high-pitched screeching, you might be a little confused about exactly what was going on with Across The Spider-Verse‘s multiple cliffhangers. Good news: you clicked an article with “ending explained” in the headline, and unlike Sony’s franchise we won’t leave you hanging for long. Here’s exactly what went down with Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) and his amazing friends.
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Plot Summary:
Picking up a little under a year after the end of Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales is now his Earth’s one and only Spider-Man. He, along with Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) and Peter B. Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson) managed to shut down the Kingpin’s collider, closing the gaps between dimensions that brought all the Spider-people together in the first movie.
…Or so they thought. After Gwen reemerges in Miles’ universe, it becomes clear that the whole multiverse — or Spider-Verse, as Miles dubs it — is very much in play. And in fact, Gwen is part of an organization called the Spider Society run by the hulking, extremely serious Miguel O’Hara (voiced by Oscar Isaac), aka Spider-Man 2099, aka Glazed Honey Buns, who is desperately trying to close any holes in the space-time continuum before they erase entire branches of the multiverse. As Miguel reveals, these crises are caused when someone intervenes with a “canon event,” which in Spider-Man terms is something iconic like getting bit by a spider, watching his uncle die, or watching, er, a “Captain” die — usually whatever version of that universe has a Captain Stacy (aka Gwen’s dad). If someone does intervene with a canon event, as Miles does at one point in the movie, the universe starts to glitch; and we’re told eventually gets erased entirely.
When Miles hears this, he remembers that his father will be made police captain tomorrow, and furthermore realizes that his dad is going to die. Naturally, Miles can’t let this happen, and a heated chase ensues between Miles, Miguel, and the rest of the Spider-Society. In the process, Miguel reveals that Miles becoming Spider-Man was caused by a spider traveling from one universe (Universe #42) to another, and Miguel considers Miles the original non-canon event. Miles became Spider-Man, while whoever was supposed to become Spider-Man in Universe #42 never did.
Miles escapes, but… Well, more on that in a second.
Meanwhile, a villain called The Spot (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) emerges. He was the guy hit by a bagel in the first movie, who got caught in the collider explosion at the end of Into the Spider-Verse and can now create black-hole-style spots that let him travel anywhere both in space and across the multiverse. As he gains enormous power, he stays focused on his main goal: to become the arch-enemy that Miles deserves by killing Miles’ father.
And also meanwhile, Gwen has been wrestling with the fact that her father wanted to arrest her for seemingly killing her version of Peter Parker (she didn’t), as well as lying to Miles about knowing about the whole “canon event” thing. Like Miles, she’s felt alone since the events of the first movie and thought the Spider Society could provide that group she’s been looking for.
All of that brings us to…
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Ending Explained:
Let’s go from the simplest to the most complicated. The Spot, now insanely overpowered, travels back to Miles’ Earth in order to destroy Manhattan, killing Miles’ father in the process, and becoming the villain he thinks Miles deserves.
Before that, though, Gwen gets exiled back to her own universe after getting kicked out of the Spider Society for defying Miguel and standing by Miles. There, she reconciles with her father, who quit the police force because he couldn’t uphold the law by chasing down his own daughter (in what could be a trans metaphor for parents accepting their trans kids, if you want it to be). He also has a gift for her: a dimensional travel watch cobbled together by Gwen’s friend Hobie Brown (Daniel Kaluuya) out of parts stolen from the Spider Society. She uses this to build a team to go and stop The Spot and save Miles’ Dad. That team includes Peter B. Parker, his daughter Mayday, Hobie, Spider-Man India, Spider-Byte, and a few returning characters from the first movie including Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker.
Opposing them is what you could characterize as the “bad” Spider-team, led by Miguel. They’re searching for Miles, also on his Earth, in order to stop him before he wrecks his canon event: the death of his father. Miguel’s team includes Jessica Drew (voiced by Issa Rae) and Ben Reilly (Andy Samberg).
There’s only one problem, which Gwen is aware of, but Miguel isn’t: Miles isn’t on his Earth. When he commandeered a machine in the Spider Society headquarters to send him back, it scanned his DNA and assigned him to the universe it matched with: Universe 42, aka the home of the spider that bit him in Into the Spider-Verse. It becomes abundantly clear he’s not in his own universe — and is trapped there — when his Uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who died in the first movie, is alive… And Miles’ dad is dead, instead.
Things get way worse from there! Since this is the universe that has no Spider-Man, most of the Manhattan skyline is on fire, it looks like various areas have been taken over by members of classic Spider-Man villains the Sinister Six, and worst of all, The Prowler — Uncle Aaron’s villain identity from the main universe — is very much in play. Only in Universe #42, The Prowler isn’t Uncle Aaron… It’s Miles (voiced by Jharrel Jerome).
Though this is the sort of thing that will presumably be made abundantly clear in Beyond the Spider-Verse, it seems like the spider was supposed to bite the Miles who became The Prowler (let’s call him “Miles-42” for short). When the spider was transported to “our” universe in Into the Spider-Verse, “our” Miles got bit, “our” Peter Parker died, and then you watched two great movies. Back in Universe 42, though, since Miles-42 isn’t Spider-Man, some unknown circumstances led to his father dying, which presumably led to Miles-42 taking on the villainous identity of The Prowler, instead (and villains taking over the city). There are a few assumptions/logical leaps in there, but based on a quick frame shown in one of The Spot’s visions of the future in the movie, it sure looks like Miles-42 was supposed to be bitten by the spider, and wasn’t. We’ll find out how accurate this is when Beyond the Spider-Verse is released on [DATE REDACTED BY SONY PICTURES ANIMATION].
We leave Miles tied up to a punching bag, face to face with his alternate universe double. Miles is activating his bio-electrical powers secretly in order to break out… And that’s it.
So to review:
- The Spot is about to destroy New York and kill Miles’ father.
- Gwen is leading a team to stop The Spot and save Miles’ father since Miles isn’t in his own universe.
- Miguel is leading a team to stop Miles (who he doesn’t know isn’t in his own universe), and also Gwen’s team.
- Miles is the prisoner of Uncle Aaron and The Prowler, aka Miles-42, trapped in a New York conquered by villains with no Spider-Man.
Yikes! That’s a lot of cliffhangers.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now streaming on VOD.
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