If you were like many kids, you might have imagined yourself to be Spider-Man. It’s pretty easy to imagine, actually. The brilliance of the character is that he is just like us. Peter Parker and the other versions of the character aren’t the biggest or strongest. They’re not the wisest or the most powerful. They’re kids (for the most part) like we were. Spider-Man was heroic in spite of his size and personality, not because of it. That’s one of the things the upcoming Sony Pictures Animation film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse shows us; the different versions of Spider-Man.
The other big thing about the character is that there is a mask involved, and that was a huge check mark for myself and many other girls. For all anyone knows, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man wasn’t a man at all, or of any gender in particular. He might not have been a white kid, or straight or young. Heck, he might not have been human at all! (Spider-Ham is a whole separate article.) Spider-Man could have been you or me, so when the character of Spider-Gwen was created back in 2014 by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez (and imagined first by Dan Slott), she was manifesting a long-held dream of those of us who felt disenfranchised like Peter Parker or Miles Morales. She was our superhero.
In Earth-65, it’s Gwen Stacy who is bitten by a radioactive spider and is transformed into a superhero. If you’re not familiar with her — though we suspect you are — she was Peter Parker’s girlfriend, but later dies to push his narrative forward. (If you haven’t heard the term “fridged,” this is a good example.) This time around it’s Peter who dies, and Gwen is blamed for it. She’s got to hide her super-identity from her father and everyone else, and in her world, she’s known as Spider-Woman. (She’s also known as White Widow and Ghost Spider.)
If you haven’t read her comics yet, you really should. Spider-Gwen got her own series in 2015 and has appeared in others. She’s also got a pretty darn cool costume design, and you can’t ever discount that when talking about the popularity of a character. If it makes good (and easy) cosplay, it’s probably going to do well. Spider-Gwen is smart. She’s part of the band The Mary Janes with Mary Jane Watson (another recognizable name), Betty Brant and Glory Grant. She’s also not sure of herself all the time, and struggling to deal with more than one side of herself. She, like Peter and Miles, is very relatable. We all have a side of ourselves that we don’t show to everyone else. Women often have to be so many different things to so many different people that we lose who we really are. At least, it gets buried sometimes. What we see in Spider-Gwen is that side trying to burst out.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, in which Hailee Steinfeld voices Spider-Gwen, is going to show us a number of different superheroes under the mask. We’re also getting a sequel and a female-fronted spinoff. It’s nice to see studios finally recognizing that many of us want to see more female superheroes. The film hits theaters on December 14. Are you guys going to see it? Let us know in the comments!