Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a ton of Spider-People in it. Six universes worth, in fact. In this animated movie, fans meet Miles Morales, a kid from Brooklyn who got bit by a radioactive spider. This all sounds familiar so far, but he has to learn how to be Spider-Man while the Multi-verse is on the verge of collapse. That’s a lot of pressure. Luckily, he has Peter Parker, Spider-Woman (aka Gwen Stacy), Peni Parker, Spider-Ham and Spider-Man Noir to teach him the ropes. All of these Spider-Man spin-offs wouldn’t be possible without the late Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
(There are mild spoilers for Into the Spider-Verse below.)
Ditko died in June at the age of 90, so he didn’t appear in Into the Spider-Verse. If you look closely though, his name does pop up on a cell phone contact list about halfway through the film in a small homage to the Spider-Man creator.
His co-conspirator, Lee, passed away a few weeks ago in November. He’s cameoed in just about every Marvel movie since before the Marvel Cinematic Universe started. Of course, fans were expecting him to be in Sony’s animated movie, and they’re not going to be disappointed.
His cameo does feel like a punch in the gut, though. It’s perfect. Most of Lee’s cameos are funny and very short, but in Into the Spider-Verse he gets a full scene with young Morales.
“He’s so integral to the spirit of this movie that we didn’t want to just give him a little passing cameo,” Producer Chris Miller told Fandango. “We wanted him to be more important and carry some emotional weight to the movie.”
Lee appears as a costume shop owner. After Spider-Man dies and Morales has to take up the mantle, Morales buys a cheap Spider-Man costume from Lee. Instead of just a quick one-liner, Lee gives some sage advice to the new hero and says something about the deceased Peter Parker that might make some fans tear up.
“We certainly felt really happy to do it with him [Lee], and obviously this last week [with Stan Lee’s passing], it made it extra meaningful and moving to watch the movie get finished and just know that he gets to be such a resonant part of it,” Phil Lord, who wrote the screenplay, said. “And we showed some fans the feature maybe two or three days after he passed away, and it was really emotional just watching everyone engage with it and collectively salute him.”
At the end of the movie, the filmmakers acknowledge Lee’s death, thanking him for the massive new world he created for generations of people. Into the Spider-Verse truly works comic book elements into its animation style, so it’s fitting that this ground-breaking film houses Lee’s best cameo.
Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on December 14.