Miles Morales is about to become a bona fide movie star. Introduced in 2011 in Marvel comics by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, the young Spider-Man will headline Sony Pictures' 2018 animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But if you're wondering just what the Spider-Verse is, the first trailer drops a big hint by stating, "Enter a universe where more than one wears the mask."
Although we do see another costumed figure in the footage (Prowler, Miles' criminal uncle), the mask in question belongs to Spider-Man, and it alludes to the probability that Into the Spider-Man will spotlight not only Miles, but also web-slingers from alternate Earths.
If the thought of multiple Spider-themed characters in one story sounds confusing, we have you covered with an explanation of what the Spider-Verse is, and where you might have seen it before.
Marvel Comics' Spider-Verse
The Marvel Comics published the 2014 storyline "Spider-Verse" that ran through The Amazing Spider-Man #9-15, with tie-ins that included Edge of Spider-Verse, Spider-Verse and Spider-Verse Team Up miniseries. The event was billed as featuring every Spider-Man that's ever appeared in media, including comics, television series and films. Marvel dedicated time and resources over the past 20 years to expanding its Spider-Man franchise beyond Peter Parker, with different men, women and even funny animals suiting up to fight crime.
The draw of "Spider-Verse" was seeing Peter lead a team of Spider-themed heroes against the evil Morlun and his family of power-draining Inheritors, who wanted to feast on the life force of all the Spider-Totems, and thereby make themselves stronger. Aside from Miles Morales, "Spider-Verse" included an impressive array of superheroes, including Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Silk (a new character who was bitten by the same radioactive spider that gave Peter Parker his abilities), Spider-UK, Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy from another Earth, who debuted during the event), Anya Corazon Spider-Girl, Spider-Man 2099, May "Mayday" Parker (Peter and Mary Jane's daughter from an alternate future), Spider-Ham and the Superior Spider-Man.
"Spider-Verse" came on the heels of a controversial, yet successful Spider-Man tale that saw longtime antagonist Doctor Octopus transfer his mind into Peter's body. After traveling through time to the year 2099, Otto Octavius' trip back to the past for "Spider-Verse" took him to a point after Peter regained control of his own body. Hence, two Peter Parker Spider-Men from Earth-616 were able to participate in "Spider-Verse."
When it came time for Miles to join up with his fellow wall-crawlers, it was Otto who actually did the recruiting. The star of Into the Spider-Verse comes from the Ultimate Universe, an Earth where Peter Parker died while fighting his arch-nemesis the Green Goblin. Sometime later, Miles was bitten by a genetically altered spider that granted him abilities similar to Peter Parker's. Miles then chose to carry on the mantle of Spider-Man, and he eventually met not only the original Peter Parker of the Marvel Universe, but also the resurrected the Peter Parker from the Ultimate Universe.
One of the breakout characters of "Spider-Verse" was Spider-Gwen, who debuted in Edge of Spider-Verse #2. The Gwen Stacy that most fans know perished in 1973, in The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122. The "Spider-Verse" Gwen Stacy comes from an Earth where she is bitten by a radioactive spider, and Peter (after becoming the Lizard) is the one who dies tragically. Gwen was originally intended to be one of the few spider characters created just for "Spider-Verse," but her popularity soared to the point that she was given her own comic series.