How ‘Across The Spider-Verse’ Resonates The Theme Of Family Through Gwen, Miles, And Others?

As the second entry in the widely acclaimed “Spider-Verse” franchise, Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse expanded the scope of the multiverse immensely and presented the viewers with a mind-boggling spectacle consisting of a staggering number of Spider-Characters. However, even amidst the crazy, over-the-top universe-hopping shenanigans, the core of the movie aligns with the strong emotional connection most great Spidey-oriented media focuses on. The treatment of the connection has been enunciated through a familial bond between characters and their close ones, which has added a certain depth to the story.


Spoilers Ahead

Miles And His Relationship With His Parents

In the first installment of the Spider-Verse franchise, and also in this one, for a major portion, Spider-Man of Earth-1601, Miles Morales, has always retained a sense of identity in his bond with his family. In the previous movie, his camaraderie with his uncle Aaron was an avenue for him to assess his individuality and strength. Miles’ father disapproved of his company, and unbeknownst to Miles, his uncle was a murderous supervillain known as Prowler. After Miles received his powers and started his crimefighting career, he incidentally found himself facing his uncle, and both of them ended up discovering each other’s secret identities. As fate would have it, Aaron breathed his last with Miles by his side; his final moments were of reassuring his nephew of him faith in him and of shame for not being able to be a good role model for him. Later, Miles’ father, Jeff, expressed his regret for not being there for his brother when he needed him the most, which led him to go down a dark path in life, and he didn’t want that to happen to Miles. These two incidents left a deep impact on Miles as a person and the hero he would soon become.


In Across the Spider-Verse, we find Miles going through his adolescent period, a particular age where differences in opinions with parents and efforts to assert individuality are common, and Miles is no exception as well. Add to that the responsibility of a teenage superhero who has to maintain his secret identity, and it is clear why Miles is having a tough time connecting with his parents. However, in the absence of Uncle Aaron, the only person who can understand Miles is his mother, Rio, but even she is getting anxious seeing her boy grow up and keeping secrets from her. At times, Miles starts fumbling to balance his personal life with his superhero career. Later, Rio senses her son’s dilemma and encourages him to trust his own instincts, much like Aaron did previously, which leads Miles to realize his true potential.

However, during his time in the Spider-Society, Miles soon finds out that his family—his father—is in impending mortal danger, which is supposed to be unavoidable as it is somehow connected with the intricacies of the web of destiny and reality. It’s a obvious choice that he wishes to save his father but finds out the entire Spider-Society is against him, as undoing the event will result in the death of an entire world. Miles is at his sensible best in that given situation, as none of the other considerations will ever be nearly enough to put his loved ones in harm’s way. Ultimately, Miles decides to tell his mother about his secret identity.


Unfortunately, while escaping the Spider-Society, Miles ends up on Earth-42, a world that is seemingly a cruel replica of his own. The world is without a Spider-Man of its own, as the designated radioactive spider of this world came to Miles’ world and gave him superpowers, resulting in the former Earth being submerged in chaos and tragedy. This Earth’s version of Miles has turned into the villainous Prowler, and his uncle Aaron lives while Jeff Davis, his father, has passed away. Although the conversation Miles has with an alternate version of his mother, unknowingly, makes it seem the bond between mother and son has remained intact in this world as well. In the upcoming installment of the series, it will be interesting to see whether Miles figures out the complex family dynamics of the new Earth he has ended up on and how his love for his family eventually alters the course of reality.

Gwen’s Estrangement From Her Father And Reconciliation

Even more than Miles’ arc, Gwen’s complicated relationship with her father left a more lasting impact on the course of the movie. Gwen’s secret identity, kept from her father, has even more of a consequential stake. Gwen’s identity as Spider-Woman was unknown to any of her peers, including her family. However, the accidental death of Gwen’s friend Peter Parker left a serious scar on the bond between Gwen and her father, Police Captain Stacy. Seeing Peter breathing his last in the arms of Spider-Woman, Officer Stacy misunderstands her to be the killer and sends his force in her pursuit forever.


Being a superhero comes with the unwritten clause that not everyone can be saved despite the most desperate efforts to do so. Gwen realizes that after Peter’s death. Aside from a strained relationship with her father due to her secret identity, she pushes herself away from him even more, fearing losing yet another close one. This reaches its worst when Gwen is forced to reveal her identity to her father but only receives disapproval in return, as her father is still determined to prioritize his job and arrest the person he thinks is responsible for Peter’s death. Aghast at this gesture, Gwen parts ways with her father, and somehow her estrangement from him creeps into her other relationships as well, as she doesn’t tell Miles about the impending crisis and even regrets returning to meet him, only to later feel ashamed for all of it.

It is only after Gwen makes amends with her father that she starts to realize that she should have stood by Miles’ side, and she eventually does so by recruiting a Spider family of her own. The insanely beautiful color palette, with blues and reds dripping in the background while Gwen and her father hit a low point in their relationship, to the canvas turning colorless to signify things starting anew, deserves special mention as well.


Miguel O’Hara And Peter B Are On Opposite Ends Of The Spectrum 

Aside from Gwen and Miles, two other characters were significantly motivated by their familial relationship or the lack thereof. In Into the Spider-Verse we saw how defeat in personal relationship had made Peter B, one of the most quirky and optimistic versions of Spider-Men out there, depressed, callous and unsure of himself. However, by the end of the movie, Peter B was convinced by Miles to give his life a second chance – and in this entry we see the proof that it was a brilliant advice after all. Peter B mended his relationship with Mary Jane and the duo had a baby, Mayday Parker. Peter started a family, prioritized it over his crimefighting career, moved on with his life, and fans should be more than happy for him. On the other hand, Miguel failed to have such a life that he desired, as his family were taken from him by the machinations of web of destiny. He never recovered from this and the movie showcases just how much it affected and changed his perspective and worldview from that point on.

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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