'Into the Spider-Verse' and What It Takes to Be Spider-Man

The gang finally discusses Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and its themes around race, class, values, and the weight of heroism. Does the movie lean on humor to the point of detracting from important character arcs? Does it miss an opportunity with Uncle Aaron's character? Is Jake Johnson's Peter B. Parker akin to the treatment the character received in Insomniac's Spider-Man for PS4? Next, Austin's been getting irate about this story of what happened when the IRS launched a special initiative to pursue payments from wealthy people who were wrongly exploiting loopholes in the tax code, and how those efforts were sabotaged. Finally, the gang is not sure what to make of Bernie Sanders' appearance on a Fox News town hall, but find some things worth discussing about the effort.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnz4q/into-the-spider-verse-and-what-it-takes-to-be-spider-man
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On the town hall discussion, specifically on the point of Fox News audiences being more receptive to leftist programs than conventional wisdom would lead you to believe, I think the recent presidential elections in Brazil were a pretty good expression of how that’s true, and that won’t save us. (I’m Brazilian, to be clear)

One thing about the Brazilian political system that’s different from the American is that there’s a ton of relatively viable parties. There’s like ten different parties who have elected governors last election cycle, probably more than twenty who have at least one congressperson, etc. However, since the mid-90s or so, the presidential elections had stabilized around two parties: the Workers’ Party (PT), originally a borderline revolution-minded party that gradually shifted towards around Sanders’ place in the spectrum, and the Brazilian Party of Social Democracy (PSDB), which despite the name is more analogous to the more corporatist wing of the Republican party. PSDB won in 94 and 98 with PT finishing second, PT won in 02, 06, 10 and 14 with PSDB finishing second. With PT’s popularity on a brutal downswing coming into 18 (for reasons It would take too long to get into), lots of analysts were betting on a upcoming PSDB presidency.

Except PSDB got absolutely smoked in the elections. Like 4% of the vote. Its base was completely swallowed up by, you guessed It, Bolsonaro, the horrible piece of shit who ended up winning.

What that revealed to me, and what ties this back to the Sanders thing, is that very few people actually care for the economic ideology of the right. It’s not actually all that popular to say you should pay boatloads of money for your healthcare or die in the streets, no matter how many coats of “freedom vs spooky socialism” these parties try to put over it. That gets you 4%. That makes you PSDB last election, or Jeb Bush. The rest of the electorate, the one that got PSDB its relevance, the one that elected Jeb Bush’s family, is in it for the racism, for the xenophobia, for the homophobia, for the misogyny. If not explicitly, in the ways these are commonly coded: “welfare queens”, “stealing our jobs”, etc. They will gladly jump ship from the good-mannered corporate suit party insider type, who they often despise anyway, to the perceived outsider who says the quiet part loud. That’s Bolsonaro and that’s Trump.

I guess my point with all this oversharing is that we should be careful getting too excited about the prospects of simply showing committed Republican voters how much sense this different set of economic policies makes for them. The tricky part is to create a class consciousness that can get people on board with the antiracist stuff, with abolishing ICE, etc. We can’t put our relatively meager power to a weak formulation of our principles that can be easily coopted by the right as its new fascist way forward.

PS: Spider-Verse was probably my favorite American animated film of the last 15 years. It rules.


I just want to chime in without any evidence or backing to say I 100% had the same read as Austin. The film didn’t explicitly say “This just happened”, but the hints it dropped read as huge signposts to me. Such that his dad probably knows. At the very least, the next movie will begin with the dad suspecting it, and an early plot point of that movie will be them talking about it.

sees Spider-Verse Waypoints


Still listening but the high point for me is the descriptive adjective? noun? “Wealth Haver”. Really like that.

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To the movie’s credit, Miles’ father is only ever referred to as “Jeff” or Dad in the script, never Jefferson or Jeff Davis. Honestly, this film addresses and averts most of the sins of Miles’ actual backstory from the comics, and this thesis is extremely well presented in Godzilla Mendoza’s video. One detail I do think is interesting and noteworthy about Miles’ history that is retained from the comics is the implication of his last name being taken from his mother. This suggests that at the time of Miles’ birth, Rio and Jeff weren’t together and Jeff’s cop heelturn didn’t happen until after he settled down with Rio again. Jeff’s identity as a cop is likely tied strongly to his identity as a father (yet remember: #ACAB).

Ultimately I think the film repudiates Jeff’s initial worldview in which he became a cop to move up in the world and he pressures Miles to go to this fancy charter school (yikes) to lift him out of the hood. The door scene is Jeff recognizing Miles as a person who can choose his own path.

There are no less than four father figures for Miles in this film, plus a host of other mentoring figures. Even Kingpin gets a contrasting moment where his psychosis is explained as misguided yearning to be a good father (and his personal tragedy is caused by his bad dad-ness). This movie seems to have a lot to say about the topic.


Re: Peter B. Parker’s life and how tough being Spiderman would be at 38, something that stuck with me from long ago was reading an article about how hard it would be to be in a real relationship with Spiderman. Because he’s going to miss anniversaries, birthdays, and other events and it’s never fair to blame him because he’s doing things that only Spiderman can do. If he just saved a bus full of children, it’s hard to be mad that he missed dinner. But that would still put an unbearable strain on the relationship.

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a good companion piece to this waypoint is the most recent citations needed. it’s all about how the rich hide wealth, tax havens, and such. after listening to the two back to back I’m like ohhhhh revolution.gif


That should be your attitude every day

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A cool detail in Spider-Verse that may have been missed: Peter B. Parker is from an “alternate universe” from Miles’s perspective, but (as hinted by his brown hair vs Pine-Parker’s blonde) he is actually “our” Spider-Man, from the mainline Marvel universe. When we see Kingpin’s multiverse chart, PBP’s universe is designated “616”, which has long been the Marvel universe’s number.


I really enjoyed this move. Best spiderman movie yet. Stunning visuals and score.
I was also so tired of Peter Parker, it was great to see miles become his own.
Dad reminds me of that guy from cloudy with a chance of meatballs. Jeff being a cop and Spiderman the role in vigilante justice is a common dynamic but I’m checked in.
Maybe they will have a spider cop joke.

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