Another Spider-Man Variant Has Been Revealed In Across The Spider-Verse
We knew he'd show up eventually.
At the end of July, pictures of merchandise for the upcoming animated sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse confirmed one of the alternate versions of Spidey we can bet on seeing in the film is Hobart Brown of Earth-138; aka Spider-Punk. This week merchandise for the movie has again revealed another Spidey variant and this one predates Spider-Punk by almost 40 years. And unlike Hobart Brown, this one is introduced in what–in some corners of fandom–is considered one of the most hated Marvel stories of all time.
As reported by MovieWeb, pictures surfaced of the Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse edition of the board game Trouble. Along with characters already confirmed for the sequel–Miles Morales, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Gwen, and the villain Spot–the game art reveals you can also play as Ben Reilly, aka the Scarlet Spider. You can see the images below.
The one nice thing–from an entertainment journalist’s point of view–about this reveal is that while we don’t yet know all the voice talent that we’ll hear in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, in this case it’s pretty easy to figure it out. There’s a good chance Jake Johnson will voice Ben Reilly, because it’s Johnson who voices Peter B. Parker. In the source material, Ben Reilly isn’t a Spidey variant, but a Spidey clone. In the controversial and often confusing nineties crossover The Clone Saga, we ultimately learn that Ben Reilly is a clone of Peter Parker who originally appeared way back in 1975’s Amazing Spider-Man #149; though for a while it’s believed the clone is the real guy, and the real guy is the clone. We’re not going to get into it all now, but it all works out eventually and there’s just a few more Spider-People swinging around Marvel by the end of it.
Ben Reilly isn’t the only hero to call himself Scarlet Spider, and his reveal makes us wonder whether or not some of the others might show up. In fact, during Spider-Verse–the 2014-15 Marvel Comics crossover from which the Spider-Verse films take their inspiration–it was another Peter Parker clone, Kaine Parker, who was calling himself the Scarlet Spider. Kaine falls a lot heavier on the “anti” side of “anti-hero” than most Spidey spinoffs and has not always played nice with the other Spider-Folk.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is set to hit theaters in June 2023, with Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse expected in 2024. Fans’ minds were blown with the announcement that over 240 characters would be in the 2023 sequel, but as reported by IGN Across the Spider-Verse co-producer Christopher Miller clarified that this didn’t mean there would be 240 variant Spider-Guys or Spider-Gals, but “240 unique characters that had to be designed and modeled.” Most, however, will be “minor or background characters.”
Still it’s impossible to not hope for more variant reveals in the days to come. Some examples of Spidey variants from the bizarre to the hilarious include Spiders-Man (nope, not a typo) who is literally millions of spiders imbued with the consciousness of Peter Parker; Spider-Ma’am, who is the product of Aunt May getting bitten by the radioactive spider rather than Peter; the undead Spidey of Marvel Zombies; various animal mash-ups like Spider-Cat, Spider-Monkey, and Spider-Wolf (we’re still not kidding); Arachknight, a fusion of Spider-Man and Moon Knight; and many, many, many, many (etc.) more.