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How one note from Dan Slott radically changed Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

“My note was a pebble in a pond that caused ripples”: Dan Slott talks about his contributions to Across the Spider-Verse.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Animation

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Is there a version of the butterfly effect with spiders? You know, that theory that an action as small as a butterfly flapping their wings can start a chain reaction, resulting in a big action like a tsunami halfway around the world.

In this case Dan Slott is the butterfly. A butterfly who has won an Eisner award and regularly topped the comic sales charts. But enough with the metaphors…

In 2014 Dan Slott wrote ‘Spider-Verse,’ the comic book crossover that featured a gathering of numerous Spider-Men from throughout the multiverse. This storyline inspired Sony Animation’s Spider-Verse film franchise. As a result, Dan Slott has served as a creative consultant for the film series. Speaking to Popverse for an exclusive interview, Slott shared his experience consulting for the films, and how one of his notes radically changed the trajectory of the 2023 blockbuster Across the Spider-Verse.

“I gave them the beat that was the 42 spider,” Slott revealed.

If you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in a while, Miles Morales is bit by a spider who has the number 42 written on it. Notably, the spider glitches. According to Slott, that particular glitch had no deeper meaning.

“I said to them in a note that the spider that bit Miles glitched, that meant by your rules, it had to come from another dimension. They didn't have this, they just thought it looked cool to have the spider glitch in the first movie.”

Once Slott picked up on that, he began to unpack the implications.

“I said to them, the spider glitched, that means the spider came from another dimension, that means Alchemax pulled it through the collider, that means if it had a number 42 on it, someone from Alchemax put 42 on it, which means it's the spider from Earth-42,” Slott said.

Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

“If you follow this further down the rabbit hole, that implies that's a spider that shouldn't have bit anyone from Earth-1610, which means that the Chris Pine Spider-Man was their one and only Spider-Man. Miles was never meant to get bit. When Miles got bit, he went back for the spider. If he hadn't gone back, Chris Pine wouldn't have had to stop to save him. He would have put the goober in the machine, he would have shut it down. There never would have been an explosion.”

Yes, this is everything Miguel O’Hara yelled at Miles during their tense battle in Across the Spider-Verse. That entire plot thread was a result of Slott observing the 42 spider glitching. “I wrote that four years ago. Everything in Spider-Verse is Miles' fault. So, everything that Spider-Man 2099 yelled at Miles was because of my notes. He pretty much yelled the note,” Slott said with amusement.

In fact, Slott’s note is the reason Miles ended up on Earth-42 during Across the Spider-Verse’s exciting cliffhanger. That plot twist inspired another note from Slott. “I'm watching a cut of the movie, and I love how they did that beat where you think Miles and Gwen are on the same Earth. It's the Silence of the Lambs beat, where Clarice is going one way, and the FBI guys are going the other.”

“Okay, so I'm watching this, and I'm loving it, and it's new to me. And I'm like, 'Oh, this is so good.' And then I went, 'Wait a minute, they're not playing fair. Because whenever you go to a different Earth, they immediately flash the sign.' I made the note, I'm like, 'You're not playing fair with the rules that you set up. It's a great beat, it's awesome, here's what you need to do. The second Uncle Aaron shows up, you need to flash on the screen, Earth-42 Even though you show it on that monitor, but that's only for the people who are paying attention, you need to make sure that the eight-year-olds who are watching this aren't lost. You need to flash Earth-42 on the screen, and the second you cut back to Gwen, you need to put the editor note, still on Earth-1610.' That's what we would do in the comics. That was one of my final notes, and that made it in there, and I was like, 'Holy shit, that's really cool.’”

Some of Slott’s notes also resulted in some of the film’s best gags. “On one of the last set of notes, they had a scene where baby Mayday was swinging around. I wrote them a note saying, 'Peter B. Parker has to wear a watch so he doesn't glitch. He comes from a different universe. Baby Mayday doesn't have a watch, she should be glitching, so she needs a watch or a day pass.' And then I come back, and they've animated the day pass onto her. And then they've even added the line, 'I've got your day pass.' And then Miles is like, 'The baby got a day pass?' That's cool,” Slott recalled.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

“My note was a pebble in a pond that caused ripples. Different creative people got to add to it, and then it became a different thing,” Slott said with pride. “I had such a fun time working with everybody there. I got to see like five or seven different cuts of the movie over the course of four years. There's always that kick of ego where you go, 'They use my bit! That's my thing! Yay!' That's fun too, when you spot stuff like Peter Parkedcar, Webslinger, Spider-Punk. That's kind of cool.”

“I have an immense sense of pride of being one of the pebbles of the hundreds of pebbles that went into that pond that caused ripples that everyone played off of,” Slott said. “[Directors] Lord and Miller were so open to everyone contributing. That blue sky document had a million things in it that they didn't use. And a lot of it I looked at it, and I'm like, 'Oh yeah, that was a bad idea. That was a bad idea.' They were really good at looking through all the chaff and finding the wheat in that document.”

The saga will continue in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, which Sony Animation hopes to release sometime in 2024. The film will pick up where Across the Spider-Verse left off, as Miles Morales tries to escape Earth-42. It’s wild to think that we wouldn’t have that cliffhanger if it wasn’t for Dan Slott’s notes.

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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.
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