Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) has an unmistakable hand in the success of Miles Morales. Although the actor/writer/musician never wrote the character in the comics, he inadvertently helped make the character's debut even bigger than it might otherwise have been. It makes sense, then, that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse pays tribute to Glover with a subtle shout-out, specifically reminding people about the time the actor ran a campaign to play the wall-crawler on film.
In 2011, Donald Glover was starring in the NBC comedy Community, while his rap career as Childish Gambino was taking off. This was when he threw his support behind a fan Twitter campaign to get Glover cast as Peter Parker in Sony's then upcoming Amazing Spider-Man.
Although the part ended up going to Andrew Garfield, the campaign raised GLover's profile considerably, and received a shout-out in the next season of Community. During a montage when all the characters are waking up for the new school year, Glover’s character Troy Barnes was shown wearing a full set of Spider-Man pajamas.
The online reception to the idea was mixed, and it’s unknown whether Glover was ever actually considered for the part, but the discussion had a clear impact on at least one other person: Brian Michael Bendis. Not long after the campaign, Bendis introduced Miles Morales to Ultimate Universe, and while the character was already being developed by Bendis and Sarah Pichelli before Glover's push to play Spidey, the writer told CBR that seeing the pajamas bit on Community "made me feel like we were on the right track."
Glover later spoke about the campaign in his stand-up special Weirdo, which can you check out below.
Glover went on to both appear as Aaron Davis (Miles’ uncle) in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and has also voiced Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, helping solidifying the connection between him and the character even more. And now, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse continues to strengthen that bond between the two.
While visiting his Uncle Aaron early in the film, as the two joke around and reveal the tight-knit bond between them, a television can be seen playing an episode of Community. Specifically, the TV is airing the episode where Troy was dressed up like Spider-Man, with the screen showing Glover in his Spidey pajamas. It’s a clever and subtle nod to a man intrinsically identified with Miles Morales, and a perfect Easter egg for those of us who have been following their weird little saga from the beginning.
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stars Shameik Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Liev Schreiber, Luna Lauren Velez, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney and Kimiko Glenn. The film opens on Dec. 14.