‘Spider-Verse’ Directors Discuss the Film’s Relationship to the MCU

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies Spider-Man
Movies Spider-Man Marvel MCU

Back around the time Spider-Man: Homecoming came out, Sony boss Amy Pascal told us that the Sony Spider-Man films — which includes Venom — take place in “the same reality” as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel boss Kevin Feige, sitting next to her at the time, said it was the “perfect answer”.

That response has some interesting connotations for the MCU now that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is about to hit screens. The MCU has of late been exploring parallel dimensions, which could well come into play in the eagerly anticipated Avengers 4.

In the meantime, Spider-Verse has blown the concept of alternate realities wide open, introducing a number of different versions of Spider-Man and other related characters to the big screen. We went straight to the film’s directors — Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, and Rodney Rothman — to grill them about Into the Spider-Verse’s relationship to the MCU and beyond, armed with Amy’s quote and some direct questions. Here’s what they said.

Building a Bridge

“If Amy said that, then it’s true,” says Rodney Rothman of Amy Pascal’s assertion that Sony’s Spider-Man films happen in the “same reality” as the MCU.

Bob Persichetti interjects: “[Spider-Verse] is born out of not the MCU but the comics. That’s where we went to. We’re adapting Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Universe introduction to Miles Morales’s Spider-Man. And that’s what we started with, so this movie is born out of that. I think it lives in a slightly alternate universe, and we just sort of ran with that idea, and said, ‘Well, let’s play with it, let’s make it thematic.’”

Rodney adds, “Let’s worry later about building a bridge to this place; let’s just build the place.”

If you’ve seen any of the footage from the film, you’ll know that there are nods to Sam Raimi’s legacy. Raimi directed the original Spider-Man trilogy, released between 2002 and 2007. Rothman admits to all three of them loving the Sam Raimi movies, and explains the significance of the references to Raimi’s Spidey films.

Referencing Raimi

“I would say we were treating the Spider-Man story in this as like a myth, basically,” he says. “Which it is. It’s a story for these times. It’s a story that went around the world, and that people all over the world know. So we were kind of having fun with the idea that this is a story that’s been told many times in comic books and movies. It’s been told in movies multiple times, you know? So, in referencing the [Raimi] movies, maybe we’re having a little fun but we’re also kind of honouring… you know, Spider-Man himself is telling you [in the film]: ‘Let me tell you this story one more time. I’ve done this, I’ve done that.’ We’re kind of acknowledging everything that’s come before us.”

Peter Ramsey likens the movie to hip-hop: “It’s like we’re taking a song, and we’re spinning and scratching it, and then we’re scratching in little pieces of other songs and you’re just getting variations on a theme with little accents pulled from all over the place. So it’s sort of [playing with] the whole idea of the multiverse and variations on a theme and all that. It all kind of weaves together.”

Bob Persichetti adds, “At the end of the day, everything that ended up in the movie is there in support of the narrative for Miles. Meaning Miles lives in a world where Spider-Man exists. We all live in a world where we’re very aware of Spider-Man, we’ve been aware of him for a long time, and we just thought, like, how can we creatively, you know, obviously be comedic because that’s what we want, but also be informative for Miles? And also set up expectations of what he has to achieve? So it all felt like narratively it was baked into Miles’s story.”

Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man Exists

The train sequence in 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.'

So the question remains, that train sequence that features in the trailer — does that directly reference the same moment in Spider-Man 2?

“I think we’re just saying Spider-Man did this,” says Ramsey. “You know, the larger Spider-Man myth encompasses all of these things.”

Rodney explains: “When we’re talking in this story about parallel universes — so, universes where different versions of the four of us exist [motions to the four of us in the room] — each universe has its own version of Spider-Man. In some of those universes, Spider-Man stopped a train, in some he stopped a bus, in some he stopped a blimp.”

“And in some moments, Andrew Garfield’s stopping the train…” adds Ramsey.

“I think it [points] to the statement that’s on [Miles’s] car ride to school which is: ‘We all make choices, Miles’. And so what we’re saying is, in parallel universes, those little subtle choices sort of steer the path in slightly different ways, but there are moments where they all sort of overlap and then they separate,” concludes Persichetti.

All clear? Perhaps not — but then the multiverse is mind-boggling stuff.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits screens in the UK on December 12, Australia on December 13, and the US on December 14.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.