How Across the Spider-Verse sets up the third movie, explained

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Across the Spider-Verse's big reveal explained Sony Pictures

We've known heading into Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse that it is, in fact, part one of two. That means we'll have to wait patiently for next year's Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse in order to learn the fates of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), and the rest of their Spider-Family.

The film picks up from the mid-credit scene at the end of Into the Spider-Verse – where we were first teased the arrival of Spider-Man 2099, aka Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), a version of Spider-Man who exists in the futuristic realm of Nuevo York (Earth-928), leader of the Spider Society, and who isn't exactly Miles's biggest fan.

It takes a while to realise just why Miguel isn't the biggest fan of Miles, but the big reveal when it does come could leave you with some questions to ponder until the release of Beyond the Spider-Verse.

Because there's something all these Spider-People – including Miles's closest friend, Gwen – aren't telling him. A secret that will inevitably determine the direction of Beyond the Spider-Verse and the trilogy's conclusion. Major spoilers ahead.

miles morales, spiderman across the spiderverse
Sony Pictures

Across the Spider-Verse's Miles reveal explained

When Miles arrives in Nuevo York, Miguel tells him that by saving the police captain of Spider-Man India, aka Pavitr Prabhakar's (Karan Soni), world, he's actually disrupted what's called a "canon event" – a fixed point in every Spider-Man's timeline that helps create the hero we all know and love.

The police captain always has to die. It doesn't matter which universe we're talking about. In Miles's world, the police captain is about to be his own dad (Brian Tyree Henry's Jefferson). We're even told the how: The Spot wants to kill someone close to Miles, as part of his plan for revenge. Miles, our Miles, can't let that happen.

But wait. There's more! Miguel tells Miles that he's an anomaly, too – one that needs to be dealt with, once and for all. As Into the Spider-Verse showed us, Miles wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider from his world (Earth-1610), but from another (Earth-42). He was never meant to be Spider-Man.

Miles escapes Nuevo York, pursued by every Spider-Person there is, and makes his way back to what he thinks is Earth-1610. But the multiversal trackers used by the Spider-Society rely on genetic signatures, so Miles's altered DNA actually drops him off in the spider's universe of Earth-42.

A place that has no Spider-Man and where its own version of Miles has become the villainous Prowler.

Across the Spider-Verse's cliffhanger conclusion sets up a lot of moving parts. Miles will have to (1) escape the clutches of Earth-42 Miles and get back to his own universe, (2) defeat The Spot and prevent his dad's death (or, alternatively, accept that it has to happen), (3) get Miguel and the Spider-Society off his back, and (4) hope all of existence doesn't collapse in on itself.

Presumably, Beyond the Spider-Verse will weave together these strands in order to bring the focus back to the franchise's biggest questions: what does it mean to be Spider-Man? And what does it take to wear the mask? A lot of this will come down to what a "canon event" really means.

Miguel is convinced that a Spider-Person cannot come into being without having first suffered loss; he views the mantle as one earned through pain.

He reveals, at one point, that he had travelled to another dimension where its Miguel had died. He tried to replace him and raise his child, only for that dimension to fall disastrously apart. That tragedy has formed his entire philosophy.

jessica drew, miguel o'hara, spiderman across the spiderverse
Sony Pictures

Earlier in the movie, when Miles interrupts the canon event in Pavitr's universe, we start to see that dimension fall to pieces. But, if Miles is truly an anomaly, wouldn't his universe have collapsed, too? Just like the one Miguel invaded?

Could it be that Miguel, blinded by grief, has put too much faith in the order of the universe? And failed to understand that sometimes the unexpected is the most beautiful? And that following the right path sometimes involves rewriting the rules?

That, one can presume, will be the heart of Beyond the Spider-Verse. Miles will find the answer as to what it means to follow your own path. Maybe, too, we'll come to understand the nature of sacrifice. He'll know whether he's right to wear the mask and whether his father has to die in order for him to earn that station.

And, for a character like Miles, whose introduction into the Marvel comics as an Afro-Latino Spider-Man was – depressingly, predictably – the target of a racist backlash, these ideas take on an extra significance.

Into the Spider-Verse told us that "anyone can wear the mask"; Beyond the Spider-Verse, hopefully, will reiterate that point with both wit and style.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is out now in cinemas.

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