If there’s one thing Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse isn’t lacking, it’s Easter eggs. Whether it be the film’s brief trip to the same universe as the Venom movies or its multiple references to Sony’s popular Spider-Man video games, Across the Spider-Verse repeatedly proves that it isn’t afraid to pay homage to the various other superhero films and titles that have come before it. The movie even packs in a brief but noteworthy reference to the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Most of Across the Spider-Verse’s biggest Easter eggs appear during its trip to Nueva York, the home city of Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac). The film’s detour there gives it the chance to dive into the minutiae of the multiverse in a way that neither it nor 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had previously.
It also gives Across the Spider-Verse the opportunity to feature a live-action cameo from none other than Donald Glover, an actor whose on-screen Spider-Man history may be a bit limited, but whose offscreen impact on the Spider-Verse franchise cannot be overstated.
Outside of his cameo in Across the Spider-VerseDonald Glover has only ever appeared in one other Spider-Man movie. The actor famously played the role of Aaron Davis a.k.a. The Prowler in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. He was, notably, never given the chance to don his character’s iconic Prowler suit in the film, but a largely comedic scene he shared with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker did open the door for him to reference his “nephew,” which well-versed comic book fans immediately knew at the time was a nod to Miles Morales.
With all that in mind, Glover appears very briefly in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse as an anomalous version of The Prowler who was captured by Miguel O’Hara and his Spider Society friends. The cameo lets Glover do what Spider-Man: Homecoming didn’t and wear a live-action version of The Prowler’s armor. It also lets him interact on-screen with Shameik Moore’s animated iteration of Miles Morales. The scene, in other words, finally lets Glover’s Aaron Davis share a moment with, at the very least, a version of his nephew that he referenced six years ago in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Of course, the scene’s importance goes far beyond its connections to Glover’s small role in Homecoming. As Marvel fans will likely remember, Miles Morales made his comic book debut in 2011. That same year, Brian Michael Bendis, who co-created the character with artist Sara Pichelli, revealed that Miles was partly inspired by Glover and, in specific, his brief appearance in Spider-Man pajamas in the season 2 premiere of the NBC sitcom, Community.
Glover’s Spider-Man pajamas in that episode were famously a reference to the failed online campaign that was run in the hopes that the actor would get an audition for the lead role in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Glover didn’t, of course, end up getting a chance to play the role in that film, which ultimately went to Andrew Garfield. However, Bendis confirmed in a 2011 interview with USA Today that Glover nonetheless did get to make an impact on the overall history of the Spider-Man mythos.
In that interview, the comic book writer addressed Glover’s Community Easter egg and said, “He looked fantastic! I saw him in the costume and thought, ‘I would like to read that book.’ So I was glad I was writing that book.”
All of this is to say that Glover’s brief cameo in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse carries a lot more weight than it may initially appear. When Miles interacts with the actor in the film, he’s interacting with someone who played a major role in his creation. Much like the brief appearance of Glover’s famous Community episode in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (see: the video above), the actor’s cameo in Across the Spider-Verse is a meta nod on the part of the film’s makers to Miles Morales’ actual, real-life origin story.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now playing in theaters.