The film picks up from the mid-credit scene at the end of Into the Spider-Verse – where we're first introduced to Spider-Man 2099 aka Miguel O'Hara (Oscar Isaac), a version of Spider-Man hailing from the futuristic Nuevo York (Earth-928), who has some real beef with our hero's interdimensional shenanigans.
Miguel is the leader of the Spider-Society and their headquarters, in Nuevo York, is where the majority of said cameos take place. We not only get to see some multiversal versions of Spider-Man, but of some of his greatest foes too.
And one of the biggest cameos in this sequence is actually more significant than you may first realise. To explain why though, we need to go into some major spoilers, so look away now if you haven't seen Across the Spider-Verse yet.
Across the Spider-Verse's Donald Glover cameo explained
Into the Spider-Verse ended with the reveal that Miles's (Shameik Moore) own uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali) was the villainous Prowler. This is crucial information.
At one point, in Across the Spider-Verse, Miguel leads Miles through Nuevo York's personal prison complex, where we see what appears to be the MCU's own version of the Prowler aka Aaron Davis, played by Donald Glover in Spider-Man: Homecoming. TL;DR, Glover makes a brief cameo in the movie.
Although the MCU never made it explicit that Glover's Aaron was the Prowler, the movie did at least set up the idea that he was criminally minded. We see him mid-deal on some high-tech firearms before he's apprehended by Spider-Man, who then questions him about the Vulture's plans.
At one point, Aaron admits that he wants to keep weapons off the streets in order to protect his nephew. That nephew is, of course, Miles Morales. (Glover also voiced Miles in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.)
But there's a reason the actor (and rapper and comedian and writer and director) has found himself so closely associated with this universe: he's part of the reason Miles Morales even exists in the first place.
How Donald Glover helped inspire Miles Morales
Back in 2010, Sony was looking to cast a new Spider-Man to continue its franchise on from the Tobey Maguire films. Donald Glover, at that time, was mostly known for his role on the NBC sitcom Community, where he played loveable himbo Troy Barnes. He expressed an interest in the new Spider-Man role.
Fans recognised that he had the right kind of energy – a bright-eyed quality, and an unbreakable determination – to take it on. And so the Twitter campaign #donald4spiderman was born.
Of course, as we all know, Andrew Garfield was the one to eventually nab the role. Still, Community's season 2 premiere, 'Anthropology 101', paid tribute to the campaign with a brief shot of Troy waking up for college while wearing Spidey-suit pyjamas.
If you paid close attention to Into the Spider-Verse, during an early scene where Miles visits Aaron, you would have spotted that same shot on the television in the background.
Community's brief tribute also caught the eye of one Brian Michael Bendis, a comic book writer who'd worked with Bill Jemas and Mark Millar on Ultimate Spider-Man. "He looked fantastic!" he told USA Today (via MTV). "I saw him in the costume and thought: 'I would like to read that book'."
And, in a way, he made that book happen. As part of Ultimate Spider-Man's 'Death of Spider-Man' storyline, published in 2011, the end of Peter Parker's story paved the way for a new character, one he co-created with artist Sara Pichelli, and which was intended to rectify some of Marvel's spotted history with Black and Latino heroes.
"It's certainly long overdue," Bendis said. "Even though there's some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it's still crazy lopsided."
While Miles Morales was already in development before #donald4spiderman even began, Bendis still gives the actor "mucho credit" for proving that he and Pichelli were "on the right track".
And now, with Glover's cameo in Across the Spider-Verse, that story comes full circle.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is in cinemas now.
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