Disclaimer: This article will contain spoilers for “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
Illustration by team illustrator Sakura Siegel.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (ATSV) has been out for less than a month, and it’s still the buzzing topic on social media — even Variety has dubbed it one of the best movies of 2023.
ATSV continues to receive praise from comic book and movie fans; most even agreeing that this sequel somehow managed to outdo its 2018 predecessor, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (ITSV). Its unique art styles for each Spider-Person, the continuation of an already stellar multi-versal storyline, and captivating performances by new and returning voice actors — such as Oscar Isaac’s Miguel O’Hara and Shamiek Moore’s Miles Morales — have all been listed as a reason for the praise. However, one aspect of the film is garnering much acclaim online for its relatability to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Spider-Gwen, voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, is expanded on in ATSV much more than she was in ISTV.
The film spends the first 10-15 minutes of the movie with her where we learn about her time between her departure at the end of ITSV and her meeting up with Miles in ATSV. We even learn about the specifics of her losing her Earth’s Peter Parker — whom she accidentally kills — and a lot about her relationship with her father, Captain George Stacy.
Captain Stacy is dedicated to hunting down Spider-Woman, the alias that the people of Gwen’s Earth have given to her superhero alter-ego, because he finds her fleeing the scene of Peter Parker’s death, leading him to believe that Spider-Woman killed Peter.
Captain Stacy comes face-to-face with Spider-Woman in an event that leads to an alternate version of classic Spider-Man villain, Vulture, from an alternate dimension, entering Spider-Gwen’s dimension, which in turn leads to Jessica Drew and Miguel O’Hara entering her dimension to capture the Vulture.
Faced with a difficult decision, Gwen decides to unmask herself in front of her father in an attempt to prove her innocence and confess to her father the complicated double-life that she leads.
Conflicted, Captain Stacy opts to try and arrest Gwen, reading her the Miranda Rights. This puts a heavy strain on their relationship, where Captain Stacy has a hard time accepting Gwen’s double-life as a high school student and vigilante.
This has provided many members of the LGBTQIA+ community with a sense of relatability to Spider-Gwen’s character.
Her desire to be understood and accepted by her father, and her father’s stubbornness and inability to accept his daughter for who she is is being interpreted by many fans to say that perhaps Spider-Gwen is transgender.
Beyond what her arc has to offer, many fans back up this theory with context clues provided in the film. Each Earth within ATSV has its own unique art style, and Spider-Gwen’s art style consists of many dripping water colors made up of various pinks and blues — the same colors of the transgender flag.
Gwen also has a small trans flag above her doorway, visible for only a brief moment, with the phrase “Protect Trans Kids” written on the flag.
For a brief moment, it can also be seen that Captain Stacy has a transgender flag pin on his police jacket.
At the end of the film, Gwen and her father reconcile, making it a happy moment for the both of them, and a propelling force for Gwen to help find Miles, who is currently lost in the Spider-Verse.
Regardless if the character is transgender or an ally, she has seemingly provided many members of the LGBTQIA+ community with a sense of comfort and relatability in her character’s arc, art style and clear ally status.