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Explainer TV and Movies

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse -- who are all these Spideys?

Let's take a look at Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham and the rest.

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The movie's main Spideys are (from left) Peni Parker, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Miles Morales, Peter Parker and Spider-Man Noir.

Sony Pictures Animation

"Wait, how many of us are there?" quips Miles Morales. And he isn't kidding.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hit theaters Friday and launched a bunch of characters you may not be familiar with.

The title is based on the 2014-2015 Marvel Comics Spider-Verse event, which saw just about every spider-powered character breaching their dimensional barriers to battle Morlun and the Inheritors, a group of beings intent on slaughtering them all.

The movie doesn't stick to that story line beyond the interdimensional aspect, but let's dive into some of the characters' histories and see how the movie celebrates Spidey's 55-year history.

Be warned, this contains full, hard-core spoilers.

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Peter Parker -- 1 and 2

We don't need to explain this guy, right? Bitten by a radioactive spider, his uncle shot to death, "with great power there must also come great responsibility" -- you know this character.

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Ben Reilly, a clone of Peter Parker, was the first blond Spider-Man.

Marvel Comics

The very first Peter we meet in the movie is played by Chris Pine (James T. Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek movies), but he's killed by Kingpin shortly after teenager Mile Morales gets bitten by a genetically modified spider.

This version of the character is a bit of a superstar, beloved by the people of New York and married to Mary Jane (Zoe Kravitz). He's also blond, perhaps as a nod to the comics' Ben Reilly -- Peter's clone who took over as Spidey for a brief spell in the '90s infamous Clone Saga. Ben dyed his hair to differentiate himself from Peter in public and designed a cool new costume to do so in his superhero life, in 1996's Sensational Spider-Man No. 0.

The movie's main Peter is played by Jake Johnson (of New Girl fame) and acts as a mentor to Miles after being dragged into the teen's universe.

"It's Peter Parker at 40, it's Peter Parker with a bad back... and who's not sure if he still wants to be Spider-Man, and what it means to be Spider-Man after the excitement of being Spider-Man," Johnson said during the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con panel.

"That just got really heavy, folks. But that's Peter Parker. It's chubby Peter Parker."

Miles Morales

This Brooklyn teen (played by Shameik Moore) gets spider powers but is left mentorless after the first Peter's death. It's a little different for Miles' comic counterpart, who first appeared in Marvel's Ultimate universe -- an alternate continuity to its main 616 universe. The Ultimate version of Peter appeared to die in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man No. 160. (He later came back because comics are weird like that.)

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Miles Morales' solo comic series will return in December.

Marvel Comics

Miles was created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli and has had his own comic series pretty consistently since his debut in Ultimate Fallout No. 4. After Bendis departed Marvel for DC in May, Miles' solo book took a break.

However, it returned on Dec. 12, with writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Garrón on creative duties, two days before Miles made his movie debut.

There's also comic book precedent for Miles running into an older Peter from another universe. The pair first met in the 2012 Spider-Men miniseries, which sees them taking on Mysterio.

Miles' parents, Rio Morales (Luna Lauren Velez) and Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry), play important roles in the movie. You can also see the family in the Spider-Man PS4 game,

"He's a black Spider-Man -- black and Mexican. I think that that's very powerful and iconic," Moore said of the character.

Spider-Gwen

This character comes from a universe where Gwen Stacy, instead of Peter, was bitten by a radioactive spider. In the main Marvel universe, Gwen is best known for her death at the hands of Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man No. 121 -- a watershed moment in superhero comics.

Fortunately, the movie's version of Gwen (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) avoided that fate and took on the name Spider-Woman. Her comic book adventures have seen her battling familiar characters with neat twists, like a corrupt version of Matt Murdock/Daredevil.

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Spider-Gwen is voiced by Hailee Steinfeld.

Sony Pictures Animation

Created by writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez, she first appeared in 2014's Edge of Spider-Verse No. 2 and her striking design won her an ongoing Spider-Gwen series, but that ended after its 34th issue.

However, she's got a new series by the name of Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider and is also among the central characters in the animated series Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.

"I get to play a female superhero, which was pretty cool -- and not just any female superhero, but the first Spider-Woman," said Steinfeld. "That was so exciting to me, and the fact that she really is the toughest and the coolest and the smartest and the most capable one in the room, and she knows it."

Gwen isn't actually the first Spider-Woman (that honor goes to Jessica Drew, who first showed up in 1977's Marvel Spotlight No. 32), but is the first to appear in a movie.

Spider-Man Noir

This Peter Parker of an alternate timeline is quite unlike the hero we're used to, since he's from 1933 and battles the gangsters of the Great Depression.

1930s Peter was created by writers David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky, along with artist Carmine Di Giandomenico. He made his first appearance in 2009's Spider-Man Noir No. 1. Unlike the other characters we've looked at, he hasn't had an ongoing series. His story was told in a self-titled miniseries and its sequel, Eyes Without a Face. Both lasted four issues.

Gamers will know him from 2010's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, where he was voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes -- who played a more traditional Peter in the '90s animated series. The game teams him up with Spider-Men from three other parallel universes.

This movie sees Nicolas Cage swinging into the role, and the B-roll of him recording his lines is a delight to watch.

Cage is getting to live out all his comic book dreams this year, since he finally played Superman in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.

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Spider-Ham will swing into action in the animated movie. He's seen as depicted by late artist Mike Wieringo on a variant cover for Amazing Spider-Man No. 528.

Marvel

Spider-Ham

"It CAN get weirder!"

Comedian John Mulaney plays porktacular Spider-Ham, the most ridiculous member of the crew.

Peter Porker is a parody character created by writer Tom DeFalco and artist Mark Armstrong. He made his first appearance in 1983's Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham No. 1.

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This was followed by a 17-issue series, which saw dozens of other anthropomorphic versions of familiar characters showing up with amazing names including Ducktor Doom, Captain Americat (Steve Mouser) and Goose Rider.

Since his series ended, Spider-Ham has shown up in wacky guest appearances through the years.

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SP//dr is piloted by the teenage Peni Parker.

Marvel

SP//dr

Peni Parker, created by writer Gerard Way (formerly the singer in My Chemical Romance) and artist Jake Wyatt, is the 14-year-old daughter of the SP//dr mech suit's original pilot.

After her father was killed in action, she took his place by letting the radioactive spider that formed the other half of the suit's CPU bite her -- forming a psychic link.

Her first appearance was in 2014's Edge of Spider-Verse No. 5, and she's voiced in the movie by Kimiko Glenn (known for her role as Brook Soso in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black).

Villains

The movie's big bad Kingpin, also known as Wilson Fisk, is played by Liev Schreiber. Kingpin will be familiar to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans as the vicious arch-nemesis of Daredevil in the recently canceled Netflix show, where he's played by Vincent D'Onofrio.

This crime boss was created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita Sr. for his first comic book appearance in 1967's Amazing Spider-Man No. 50. Kingpin has been a recurring villain ever since, but the current Marvel Comics status quo has him as New York City's democratically elected mayor.

In the movie, a flashback shows that Fisk's wife Vanessa (Lake Bell) and son Richard fled when they happened upon him attacking Spidey, only to be killed by a truck as they left. He's determined to replace them with their counterparts from another universe, at any cost.

Vanessa Fisk first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man No. 70 back in 1969, while Richard first appeared in the 83rd issue of the same series in 1970. He went on to become a crime lord himself, going by the lame Schemer and more refined Rose.

Fisk is backed up in the movie by the purple-hooded Prowler. The first person to take on this identity was Hobie Brown, in 1969's Amazing Spider-Man No. 78, and he became an ally of Spidey.

However, this Prowler is based on the Ultimate universe version, where the mask is worn by Miles' morally questionable and antagonist uncle, Aaron Davis. He first appeared in 2011's Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man No. 1, and Mahershala Ali plays him the movie.

Mind-bendingly, Aaron was played by Donald Glover in Spider-Man: Homecoming, six years after the actor inspired Miles' appearance (along with then-President Barack Obama).

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The first female Doc Ock battles the Scarlet Spider (aforementioned Spidey clone Ben Reilly).

Marvel Comics

Fisk's other henchmen are Scorpion (Joaquin Cosio) and Tombstone (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III) -- classic comics goons who first showed up in Amazing Spider-Man No. 20 in 1965 and Web of Spider-Man No. 36 in 1988.

Doctor Octopus is one of the movie's surprise villains. Olivia Octavius (Kathryn Hahn) is a new version of the classic Spidey villain (who first showed up in Amazing Spider-Man No. 3) working for Fisk.

However, she's not the first female Doc Ock we've ever seen -- that honor goes to Carolyn Trainer, who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man No. 406 in 1995 and took over for the original while he was dead. She later played a role in his resurrection, because comics.

Peter also faces off against demonic version of the Green Goblin, Spider-Man's greatest villain, at the start of the movie. The original costumed Goblin first showed up in 1964's Amazing Spider-Man No. 14, but the monstrous version's first appearance was in Ultimate Spider-Man No. 4.

Both versions are Norman Osborn, the father of Peter's best friend Harry, driven to insanity by his experiments in a quest to gain superpowers.

A post-credits scene reveals another pair of Spider-people, and late Marvel Legend Stan Lee has quick cameo that'll make you miss him even more.

Originally published July 20.
Update, Dec. 19 at 9:23 a.m. PT: More details have been added since the movie's release.

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