Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse went above and beyond the home video call of duty by including a whole alternative film in its special features, instead of just the requisite deleted scenes. The “Alternate Universe mode” features an entirely revised story, pieced together from unfinished board sequences and animatics, that clocks in at a little over two hours long.
Miles’ world was almost a very, very different place full of totally new characters, plot lines, and a whole new origin story. We sat down with the Alternate Universe mode and handpicked some of the most dramatic (and hilarious) differences. They showcase the movie that may have been — and they might just give us a peek at the future of the Spider-Verse.
Meet Ganke Lee
One of the most prominent changes in the Alternate Universe cut is the inclusion of a totally new character: Ganke Lee, Miles’ roommate, who only appears in the background (and one brief gag) in the theatrical version. Fans of Miles who made the jump from the comics will recognize Ganke immediately as a pretty major part of Miles’ life — he is his best friend, constant confidant, and one of the only people who is in on Miles’ secret. Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will also probably recognize him as the inspiration for Ned Leeds in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that’s another issue entirely.
The Alternate Universe cut builds up Miles and Ganke’s friendship right away. Ganke is even one of the main reasons Miles is still a little on the fence about trying to quit Brooklyn Visions Academy. One thing to note is that Ganke’s storyboarded design is pretty dramatically different from the final version of Miles’ unnamed roommate that shows up in the finished film — it’s probably still Ganke we saw there in the background, but maybe it’s not? Maybe the Spider-Verse incarnation of Ganke is being saved for a sequel.
Another origin all together
Jumping from Ganke’s expanded role comes an entirely new origin story for Miles that involves him being bitten by the experimental spider while the two of them are hanging out, not while Miles is working on his graffiti mural with Uncle Aaron. This completely changes how Miles handles his change — he’s less isolated and by extension a little less paranoid about what’s happening to him.
The whole chase scene between Miles and the school security guard is omitted in this cut (which means no hilarious Spider-Man Christmas album gag) in favor of Ganke trying to help Miles understand his new abilities — something that Miles is less than thrilled about. Strangely enough, in this version, Miles absolutely does not want to be Spider-Man while Ganke tries to convince him it’s the right thing to do — almost a complete inversion of the Miles we see in the final cut who has to work hard at convincing Peter to train him at all.
Iron Man exists In Miles’ universe
The theatrical version of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn’t mention any other superheroes or villains outside of the immediate Spider-Man pantheon. But a throwaway line in a deleted scene between Miles and his parents reveals that Iron Man does actually exist in Miles’ universe. This may not be a big deal now, but considering Sony’s plans for Spider-Verse spinoffs, it could mean that we’re going to see some of the Avengers showing up somewhere down the line — at least we know for certain they exist in the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: The Motion Picture
Before meeting Peter, Miles takes most of his cues about being Spider-Man from his universe’s Spider-Man comics, but in this cut of the movie, Ganke pulls a totally different bit of pop culture paraphernalia out to try and get Miles on board: Spider-Man: The Motion Picture. In the movie-within-a-movie, Tom Cruise knock off “Todd Crews” plays a “scientist, entrepreneur, billionaire” version of Spider-Man.
Things get extra ridiculous in this gag when you remember that Spider-Man actually exists in Miles’ universe and rigorously maintains a secret identity, so the movie character is based purely on whatever an in-universe Hollywood studio made up. Ganke assures Miles that the real Spidey probably isn’t a scientist entrepreneur billionaire, but a Russian acrobat from Cirque Du Soleil.
Real life director Will Gluck (Peter Rabbit, Annie) “directed” the fake film, and provides a commentary track on the version Miles and Ganke watch. It’s all a pretty transparent tongue-in-cheek dunk on not only the long legacy of live action Spider-Man movies, but also the first Iron Man movie. Checkmate, MCU.
An Uncle Ben death scene
Into The Spider-Verse almost included the requisite Uncle Ben death scene — as part of Spider-Man: The Motion Picture, at least. Seeing the incident play out on screen inspires Ganke to tell Miles that all they need to do is find “his” Uncle Ben, because this is all the start of a really great origin story. That’s a little too on the nose for Miles’ comfort. He immediately blows up, runs away, and emphasizes that he does not want to be a superhero.
Alchemax vs Roxxon
When Miles finds the spider that bit him — this time in school rather than the subway tunnel — he reads the barcode and logo on its thorax as “Roxxon,” rather than Alchemax (which is what the storyboard actually has written out.) Fans will probably recognize the name as a nefarious “energy corporation” that features prominently in Marvel comics (and in the background of some select MCU stories).
Alchemax, the company that actually made it into the final version of the film, is also part of Marvel’s canon, but is typically considered part of the “2099” alternate future timeline, a fun little link to the theatrical cut’s post-credits scene.
A few words from Fisk
In this cut, Mary Jane’s stirring speech at the Spider-Man memorial is followed by none other than Wilson Fisk. He’s introduced as “philanthropist Wilson Fisk” implying that the world at large has no idea about Fisk’s double life as Kingpin. He explains that he made a donation to the police force to help catch Spider-Man’s killer, which sends Miles into a panic because, well, obviously, he knows the grisly truth.
This scene also helps establish just what the Spider-Man themed benefit was about — and why Mary Jane was there — when the Spider-Crew is on their way to destroy the collider at the end of the movie.
A training montage
Rather than Miles beefing it repeatedly by himself, in this version he and Ganke take to the whole Spider-training thing together, using Spider-Man: The Motion Picture as their guide. Needless to say, it doesn’t go super well.
They even try to develop their very own set of web shooters together out of fishing poles. They don’t work, and Miles ends up pretty beat up by the perpetual failure, which eventually amounts to the Collider key snapping and Miles visiting Peter’s grave.
Peter B. Streaker
Peter’s intro into Miles’ universe almost involved him dropping into a supermarket with no pants on and being chased down by the cops for public indecency.
That’s...really all there is to it. Spider-Verse could have had 100 percent more dick jokes at Peter’s expense. We were robbed.
Peter and Miles’ heart-to-heart
Alternate Universe Mode features a genuinely touching scene between Miles and Peter after Miles dejectedly sulks out of the Spider-Cave. Miles is upset, anxious about not being able to save the world, and worried he’s going to let everyone down. Peter actually provides his first bit of good advice: “You can’t think about saving the world, you have to think about saving one person. You have to think about someone you love.”
Miles gets a little more insight into Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship at that point, which builds to Peter saying that Miles shouldn’t worry about being Spider-Man the way Peter is Spider-Man, he needs to do it his own way. Thematic!
This is also the first time the “leap of faith” mantra gets used in this version, just to really drive it home.
So, what does it all mean?
At the end of the day, the Alternate Universe Cut proves that Spider-Verse’s heart was always in the same place, even when it took a radically different approach to Miles’ journey. If anything, the new version proves just how versatile Miles is as a character, pulling off a compelling arc both as the theatrical version’s eager student and the alternate version’s extremely reluctant hero. The kid has got that relatable Spider-Man charm no matter what.
Alternate Universe mode may not be the finished product, but it is a joyful little gift for everyone out there craving new Spider-Verse content right away. And hey, in keeping with the whole Spider-Verse thesis, who knows just how many other versions of the story are out there somewhere? In some other dimension, maybe this is exactly the Spider-Verse that hit theaters last year. Maybe it even won the alternate reality equivalent of an Oscar.
Meg Downey is a freelance pop culture journalist who specializes in superheroes and fan culture. She loves sidekicks, giant robots, and weirdly specific comics history. When she’s not frantically trying to wrangle her deadlines, you can find her on twitter @rustypolished, where’s she probably having a very public meltdown about something embarrassing.