Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the world’s first-ever theatrically released Spider-Man animated feature film stars the relatively new character, Miles Morales, teaming up with Spider-Men, women and…ham? from across the multiverse. The title and some of the characters that Miles is seen interacting with in the trailers for Into the Spider-Verse are largely based on the event series simply titled Spider-Verse, written by the at the time writer for The Amazing Spider-Man Dan Slott and his often collaborator, Christos Gage, that ran from late 2014 into early 2015. Before there was Spider-Verse though, there was a video game that served as its inspiration: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
With a story also credited to Dan Slott, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was a linear, character action game for consoles and PC crafted by Canadian developer Beenox and an underrated metroidvania title for the Nintendo DS developed by Griptonite Games. The story starts with Spider-Man foiling a heist at a museum perpetrated by his long time foe, Mysterio, who is trying to gain the power of an artifact known as the Tablet of Order and Chaos. During battle, the tablet is shattered and its pieces are scattered across space and time. To reassemble it, four Spider-Men are recruited to gather the fragments that are in found in their home dimensions.
Shattered Dimensions’ big hook was that it gave the player the opportunity to play as multiple versions of Spider-Man: the traditional, Amazing Spider-Man; a younger version of the character from the Ultimate Universe, which was a side-continuity imprint that started at the turn of the millennium; Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099, who exists in the far future of the Amazing Spider-Man and finally Spider-Man Noir, taken from the Noir Universe of stories that reimagined classic Marvel characters in the early decades of the 20th century. While the character was unplayable, Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham, appears in a post-credits scene and both Ham and Noir will be featured in Into the Spider-Verse.
Not only could you play as different versions of Spider-Man across different parts of space and time, but the actors that brought each character to life were all actors that longtime fans associated with the character from animated series throughout the years. Neil Patrick Harris played the Amazing Universe’s Spider-Man after a short tenure as the character in a one season, CG animated series set after Sam Raimi’s 2002 film. Kids from the ’90’-s immediately recognized Christopher Daniel Barnes from Spider-Man: The Animated Series as Spider-Man Noir and children of the ’80’s got to hear Dan Gilvezan come back after Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends to play Spider-Man 2099. Last but by no means not least was Josh Keaton from the beloved Spectacular Spider-Man series that ran on Kids WB for two seasons as Ultimate Spider-Man. With regards to its cast, Shattered Dimensions links itself further with Into the Spider-Verse with how much it celebrates Spider-Man’s many animated incarnations throughout the decades.
A year after its release, Shattered Dimensions would get a poorly received follow-up, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, that halved the number of Spider-Man from four to two. Edge of Time’s story was penned by veteran writer Peter David who helped breath life into the 2099 timeline and has the Amazing Spider-Man teaming up with Spider-Man 2099 to prevent the timeline from being rewritten by Walker Sloan of the twisted Alchemax corporation who wants to start its inception much earlier in the timeline. What’s notable about Edge of Time is that players could for the first time don the costume of a brand new Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Debuting in Ultimate Fallout #4, Miles Morales was the second character to take on the mantle of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe. Miles is bitten by a genetically altered spider similar to the one that gave Peter Parker his powers but is reluctant to use his abilities, that is, until he witnesses Peter die in a battle with Green Goblin. Feeling that he could’ve prevented this tragedy if he had embraced his gifts, Miles becomes the new Spider-Man, effectively making Peter Parker his Uncle Ben.
Miles’ introduction was met with skepticism, but it didn’t take long for readers to embrace him, and after the Secret Wars story in 2015, Miles was folded into the main Marvel Universe, often referred to as 616. Prior to that though, Miles would team up with with every spider powered person ever – well, the ones that Marvel had access too which meant no Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Josh Keaton’s Spectacular Spider-Man – in Spider-Verse. More so than the sheer number of Spider-Man it juggled in its narrative, Spider-Verse is perhaps most famous for introducing characters who will appear in Into the Spider-Verse like the young Japanese Peni Parker who, through a Pacific Rim style neural link with a radioactive spider pilots the SP//dr mech and the character that became so popular in her one-shot debut in Enter the Spider-Verse #2 that it spawned her own solo series: Spider-Gwen.
Spider-Gwen, or Spider-Women and now Ghost Spider comes from a world where Gwen Stacy, a famous character who tragically died at the hands of Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man #121, was bit by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker. Spider-Gwen would make her console video game debut in last year’s LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 which was a mini-Spider-Verse reunion in a few ways. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2’s plot has the time-travelling villain Kang the Conqueror merge parts of the Marvel Universe from across time and space into a world called Chronopolis. Parts of Chronopolis are made up of Neuva York, the domain of Spider-Man 2099 and Manhattan Noir, the home of Spider-Man Noir with both of their guardian Spider-Men being integral parts to the story and playable characters. Peter Parker and Miles Morales also play into the game’s plot and Spider-Ham can be unlocked in the open-world.From the early rave reviews, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks like it’s going to be a great time at the movies, especially if you’re a Spider-Man fan. While we’re long past the days of movie tie-in games, Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t really need one anyway because technically speaking, one came out for it almost a decade before the film even existed. If you come out of Into the Spider-Verse falling in love with characters like Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham, there’s also LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 to satisfy your desire for more spider-powered crossover goodness.