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Spider-Verse’s wheelchair-using hero started out as a fan-art ‘spidersona’

From Dayn Broder’s pen to Marvel Comics’ pages to Across the Spider-Verse the movie

Gwen and Miles stand in the lobby of the spider-persons’ headquarters in Across the Spider-Verse. Image: Sony Pictures
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

There’s a new Spider-Verse in town, and the thing we’re most excited to see is the resurgence of the “spidersona” — the joyful explosion of art as fans and artists show off how they’d like to look if they were a part of the Spider-Verse. We’ve got goo spiders, and dewspiders, and spiders with cool spooky fingers, and man-spiders, and… hm. This one is a pelican? I love that for them.

But the biggest fan-art spidersona out there is undoubtedly Sun-Spider — because she actually made it into Across the Spider-Verse.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.]

Miles Morales falling through a portal in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse Part 1 Image: Sony Pictures

If you’ve seen Across the Spider-Verse, then you know — when Miles is fleeing from an entire multiverse of spider-persons, the group includes a wheelchair-using spider who clocks Miles with one of her crutches. Then she makes a joke about how Spider-Mans tend to use humor as a crutch, followed by an apology for that joke being so terrible. (Which shows a real understanding of Spider-humor.)

That’s not just any spider — she’s Sun-Spider (originally Sunspider), created by cartoonist Dayn Broder.

A comics editor, designer, and freelance writer, Broder first tweeted their Sunspider art in the wake of Into the Spider-Verse’s 2018 release. A year later, when Marvel was readying a new Spider-Verse miniseries, the company reached out to more than a dozen spidersona artists to commission new art of their inventions and feature them in the pages of the series — and Broder was on the list.

“As a disabled person, I almost never get to see any disabled super heroes,” Broder wrote in the issue. “l wanted to create someone like me: an ambulatory wheelchair user, who can still kick butt in her own modified way. Sun-Spider is hyper-flexible, though this does have drawbacks since it means she requires extra stability, and the crutches help with that.”

The crutches also shoot webs — because that rules.

Dayna Broder’s character designs for Sun-Spider in and out of costume. In costume, Sun-Spider has crutches, a backwards webbed baseball cap, a jacket, and a X design over their spider-mask. Out of costume, she’s got a backwards baseball cap and sits in a wheelchair, in Spider-Verse (2019). Image: Dayna Broder/Marvel Comics
Sun-Spider, Spider-Ham, and Spider-Mobile on the cover of Edge of Spider-Verse #4 (2022). Image: Josemaria Casanovas/Marvel Comics

In 2022’s Edge of Spider-Verse, Sun-Spider (aka Charlotte Webber) got her own story from writer Tee Franklin and artist Jethro Morales, in which she went to prom, battled her own universe’s Doc Ock, and was recruited into a group of spider-persons trying to — what else? — save the multiverse.

And now Charlotte is voiced by comedian Danielle Perez, herself a wheelchair user, and she’s bumping shoulders with the likes of Ben Reilly and Jess Drew in Across the Spider-Verse. It’s a lovely full-circle moment for fandom: Into the Spider-Verse inspired its fans, and fans in turn participated in inspiring the sequel. It all shows a real commitment to the power of the idea that anyone can be Spider-Man.

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