‘Across the Spider-Verse’: Black Solidarity vs. The Convenience of Allyship

It’s been two weeks since I saw Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but there’s still so much to unpack. The movie is riddled with numerous themes, and the ones that stand out to me the most center around friendship and solidarity. I’m reminded of a quote from Samurai Jack where Jack’s father, The Emperor, tells him, “The decisions you make, and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you are. You cannot hide from yourself.” I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot in relation to the decisions of Hobie Brown and Spider-Byte and the actions of Gwen Stacy and Peter B. Parker towards Miles Morales. whether incidentally or on purpose, Across the Spider-Verse show us the convenience of white allyship compared against the choice of Black solidarity.

Spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie.

Those that have seen the movie might know where I am going with this. Given their history from Into the Spider-Verse, Gwen Stacy and Peter B. Parker are Miles’ day ones. They each gave Miles a piece of the puzzle to being Spider-Man then saw Miles put it together on his own. Which makes their choices and actions against Miles that much more hurtful when they side with Miguel O’Hara and the establishment that he’s built.

What About Your Friends

Across the Spider-Verse

Before I start, I feel this needs to be said as an internet disclaimer before anyone asks, “Why you gotta bring race into it?” *Looks at the name of the site then stares into the camera like Mr. Eddie from Abbott Elementary* I’m just analyzing some layers of the film interpreted from a Black lens. There’s a lot of subtext within this film that gets added when you look at the race of the characters. We just doing some critical thinking. I ain’t saying any of these characters are bad or racist. We just looking at how the actions of certain characters come across in the film and the experiences I’ve had in the real world with the choices made by friends that aren’t Black or POC.

When Miguel O’Hara tells Miles Morales that a police captain in Spider-Man’s life dying is a canon event that can’t be stopped lest it unravels the entire Spider-Verse, our boy wasn’t taking this news well. Especially when he realizes that when he saved Pavitr’s (India Spider-Man) police captain Singh, Gwen was both trying and not trying to stop him from disrupting this canon event. Miles now realizes the situation that he is in after having a vision of his father being in danger. Miles’ father is going to die in two-days time, and Miguel is willing to physically restrain him from changing that canon event. Miguel will stop Miles from saving his own father, because it’s an event that must happen. If it doesn’t, then that means trillions of lives across the multiverse will be in danger if Miles intervenes in this.

It was wild seeing Peter and Gwen then having to tell Miles that this is the way things have to go. Peter calls him kid, and Miles “stop calling me kid.” response was all we needed to see to know, our guy was not with the shits at all. It’s especially wild when we later find out that they knew Miles was the original anomaly in the Spider-Verse (according to Miguel). This is like when you kicked out the group chat man. They been having a whole ass party without inviting ya boy for fear of what he is. Gwen and Peter just naturally fell in line with Miguel’s anomaly theory on Miles. These mutha fuckas didn’t have one question about that at all tho? Fantastic Frankey said it best, “In a room full of geniuses and no one challenged Miguel’s canon theory?” I understand Peter saw what happened when Miguel inserted himself into a world he didn’t belong, and it came crashing down…but Miles ain’t do that shit. Miles was bitten by a spider from another universe. He ain’t seek it out it happened to him. How is he an anomaly when he didn’t take the actions Miguel did? Gwen and Peter ain’t have any questions on that?

Across the Spider-Verse

Let’s also be real. Gwen and Peter B Parker spent all that time in Into the Spider-Verse trying to get Miles to understand what it means to be Spider-Man. They celebrated Miles when he took that leap of faith. Now, he’s being told he is an anomaly, and that he wasn’t supposed to be. Are those words of encouragement from the previous film only situational? Y’all not standing on that anymore with this new info? That’s the shit that fucking gotta hurt Miles the worse. Also, Miles’ Spider-Man told him to get it out the mud before he died. That should be the only cosign ya boy needs, but Gwen and Peter seem to forget that because this new sexy mutha fucka Miguel O’Hara talking bout they boy crazy. It makes them look pretty fickle as friends. Folks come to Gwen and Peter’s defense by saying, “how do you tell someone that they are a mistake?” To which I say, you find a way.

Look, I’m a creative and when my creative friends send me poems, content, or ideas I gotta be honest with them when that shit ain’t up to par. Telling Miles, “Look man, some folks talking crazy about you. Boom boom boom, this is what it is, I don’t rock with that shit but I’ma spy on’em and see where this shit goes and come up with a plan. So be ready.” I’ve had that exact conversation in corporate America with a co-worker when them cuts were coming round. It’s a simple heads-up. Y’all done hyped this kid to put his life on the line in taking that leap of faith. Least you can do is give’em a heads up.

Will They Stand Their Ground?

Across the Spider-Verse

A sign of good writing in a story is putting your characters in a catch 22; where they are damned if they do while damned if they don’t and then seeing the choices they make. We judge characters based on the choices that they make, especially when their back is against the wall. Gwen’s back was against the wall the entire film. Her cop daddy pulled a gun on her when she revealed she was Spider-Woman. Captain Stacy was ready to bring Gwen in for a crime she been trying to say she ain’t do. Your girl had to abandon home. I get it. She was goin through it, she’s a teenager, shit is crazy. None of these things absolve Gwen from the actions she took regarding Miles Morales. If Gwen did as she was told by Jessica Drew and did not go and see Miles, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. If she followed orders and just trailed The Spot, she and by association Peter B. Parker would not have been highlights on Spider-Verse twitter and TikTok. I repeat, “The choice you make and the actions that follow, are a reflection of who you are.”

Gwen knew Miles nature, no hero blaming but there’s no way Miles wouldn’t follow up on his friend. Especially when she coming to visit after all these months, being secretive, and is pretty clearly going through it. Miles dove into that portal for Gwen sure because he crushing, but at the heart of it, it’s because that’s his fucking friend and he wanted to help. That’s the action Miles made for Gwen when it came to their friendship. When Miguel had Miles imprisoned, Peter B. Parker and Gwen were telling Miguel he was wyling and that there was another way. That’s all she did tho. She ain’t take any actions to help free Miles (though you can say her saying Miguel was wyling to his face was advocating but that’s the bar being moved up to Barcelona instead of hell). Gwen’s action in going to see Miles set up the events to unfold. This isn’t me blaming her. I’m just stating the hero’s journey we saw taking place.

When Miles escapes, Gwen goes after him along with all the other Spider-Men/Women/People. We don’t know what action she will take in pursuit, but we know she is chasing him. Where Peter B. Parker chased Miles and was trying to talk to him (bad timing, Peter, ain’t nobody trying to hold May right now) and accidentally/intentionally lead everyone to Miles’ location, we saw Gwen launching Jessica Drew forward to capture Miles. Miles spun Jessica whole block after that but that’s here nor there. Miguel pursuit of Miles was getting drastic, and he literally put hands all over Miles. Gotta reiterate that he wouldn’t be in this position if not for Gwen coming to see him. After Miles escapes, Gwen is then essentially left to her own devices, kicked out, and sent back home. She sees her dad stepping down as police captain which means…*oh shit*…Miguel might be wrong about his anomaly theory.

Now, Gwen gets the band together to go find Miles and save him. Cool. Obviously, we’re seeing the hero correcting the mistakes they’ve made. We are going to see Gwen’s redemption. I’m just saying she gets to switch to Miles’ side after being kicked off the home team. Your girl was all with the status quo until she got kicked out. Gwen was doing a lot of fence sitting throughout this movie, and when we see her being an ally of Miles again, it’s convenient for her as she is now ousted by Miguel and Jessica Drew.

It’s so hard to not compare that to real world experience when white or non-Black POC come back to the side of someone being discriminated against when it’s easier for them or isn’t affecting their wallet. To me, a great example of allyship is Tommie Smith and John Carlos recalling how Peter Norman stood in solidarity with them at the 1968 Olympics during their Black power salute. Peter Norman was Australian and had his whole country turn against him for rocking with them Black men. Smith and Carlos talked about how Australia wanted Peter to take back his support of them. Peter Norman didn’t fucking budge. Norman spoke out about Australia’s racism toward indigenous people as well as Asian Immigrants. Even when he qualified for the 1972 Olympics and the Australian Olympic team didn’t select him, even when his life turned tragic. Mans didn’t fucking budge. Only after his death did Australia celebrate that man. Mans lived and died as an ally (Tommy Smith and John Carlos were his pallbearers) and remained so even when it wasn’t convenient. THAT’S WHAT THE FUCK I AM TALKING ABOUT!

Will They Let You Down?

Across the Spider-Verse

Where Peter and Gwen let Miles down, Hobie Brown and Spider-Byte came the fuck through for the young dude. Hobie Brown upon meeting Miles did nothing but root for this guy. Whereas Miles was seeing Hobie at first as perhaps the person of interest for Gwen and perhaps feeling a way about that, Hobie was only ever looking out for Miles. If ya listen close, you can hear him refer to Miles as Peter Pan and Gwen as Gwendy. Hobie spends time trying to get Miles to not want to be apart of this Spider society. He knows how this shit is going to shake down, he sees that Miles wants to belong and be here, so he leaves it. However, Hobie not knowing Miles for more than 10 minutes does what Gwen failed to do. He warns Miles by saying, “Know the war you’re fighting before you enlist.” That phrase alone is ominous but when Miles hears how he has to let his father die and is then trapped in an energy prison by Miguel, he sees that this isn’t what he’s signing up for. Then Hobie, who hasn’t taken his eyes off Miles like everyone else, reminds him, just like he did before, that to drain the prison’s energy field that he is in he needs to use his palms as well. Hobie’s help secures Mile’s escape.

This feels like such a small moment, but it was loud as fuck for me in the theaters. Especially, seeing how Hobie was stealing parts while basically reiterating to Miles what his mother Rio had been telling him before he left. Hobie tells Miles he’s good on his own, made his own, and doesn’t need to be part of this system. Essentially, he is telling Miles that this thing you want to be apart of doesn’t value you as it should. This system underestimates you. We know that to be true when Miles leads all them Spider people on what seems to be a thoughtless chase but really he was leading them away from their headquarters so he could go back in in stealth mode to return home. Hobie ain’t doubt Miles and is the only one that wasn’t with Miguel’s anomaly theory. Where Gwen and Peter B. Parker were telling Miles that him being Spider-Man made him apart of something so much bigger than himself, Hobie looking out for Miles shows him that he shouldn’t forget who the fuck he is under the mask either. Fam, Hobie had so much foresight that he even made it possible for Gwen and her rescue team to come after Miles because he made separate multiverse watches for everyone from the parts he was taking earlier.

Across the Spider-Verse

Even Margo (Spider-Byte) had Miles back and she knew him for less time than Hobie. Margo had one conversation with Miles and helped him out in the end. I ain’t pitting two women against each other, but the internet has. A lot of people have been very lenient toward Gwen. She doesn’t have a home due to the issue with her father and is a teenager, so her choices are a reflection of that. Sad story bro, but once again, it doesn’t excuse or absolve her of the actions she made. When it comes to Margo, there has been this confusion on how she helped Miles out or that she sent Miles to the wrong universe. Margo helped Miles but doesn’t get the credit for it, whereas Gwen didn’t help Miles out and folks are way more forgiving of her. We can clear this up right now, fam.

The machine that is used to send villains and anomalies back to their own time is attached to the person’s DNA. Since Miles was bitten by that spider from an alternate universe, it altered his DNA which is why he was sent to Universe-42 and not his own. Margo didn’t send him there. Miles is the one that was firing up the machine to send himself home. Margo was trying to shut it down, but Miles was stealthily too fast in trying getting the machine ready. Yes, Margo was trying to stop it until Miguel O’Hara kicked in the door waving the claws. Margo had the shutdown screen up to stop the machine and as GL2814_3 on Twitter said, “Miles looked at her with the Dwayne Wayne ‘Baby PLEASEEEE'” stare. Margo had the choice to stop the machine, but she did not. That was her contribution to Miles. Gwen’s actions led Miles to be in this predicament. Margo’s inaction led to Miles’ escape. Again, this feels like a small moment but seeing this as a Black person; this shit was Metro Boomin through the speakers.

Hobie and Margo’s moments combined remind me of an instance when I was younger. I was heading to the movies and saw a friend of mine from school working at the theater. I paid in exact cash, and she told me I was 10 cents short. I remembered instantly that I left my wallet in the car and had to walk a good distance back across the parking lot and then all the way back. I give her the ten cents and I go see the movie. A few weeks later my friend’s little sister was working at the same theater. I was surprised and gave her a twenty to see the movie. She did this motion with the twenty that was so quick and so fast with the register then slides me my money back. I notice it’s the same twenty. I…l was so confused cause it should have taken me less time to realized that she was doing me a solid. I was like oh shit, thank you after I realized what happened.

The friend my age was white, and my friend’s younger sister was Black. I’m telling that story because to being Black solidarity is not even having to ask or tell someone that you are looking out for them. I wasn’t asking her to do me the favor, but I also didn’t have to. Margo and Hobie didn’t know Miles, but they both did Miles a solid. However, Black people aren’t a monolith, and Jessica Drew ain’t do Miles Morales any fucking favors. Jessica was out here doing doughnuts and popping wheelies not giving one good god damn about Miles. The case can also be made that she knew Miguel more than Miles and was looking out for her own baby and universe, along with the rest of the multiverse that Miles was allegedly putting in jeopardy.

Or Will They Turn Their Backs on You?

Across The Spider-verse did a great job of putting heroes in hard positions and making tough calls due to circumstances as well as making actions based on their characters. There’s room for everyone to be redeemed for the choices they made. I mean, Miguel O’Hara was really wylin’ so it may take some time to forgive him for his mistakes. Man felt like he was seconds away from dropping a hard -r every so often. There are even more underlying layers in this movie as reflections on race, relationships, and dynamics. For me, at the heart of it, the friendships Miles had and the changes he experienced are at the center of this film. Again, (cause this is the internet) I don’t think Gwen and Peter are racist or problematic or anything. Their actions in this movie have to be held accountable. Despite what Gwen was going through at home, it doesn’t absolve her of the consequences of her actions.

Allyship and Black solidarity felt like glaring themes for me in this film as well. These are themes that impact friendships, and you can’t help but witnessed them when you are Black or POC. I mean when it really comes down to it (If you didn’t know by the headers) the question for Miles is about his friends. Are they goin be low down (Peter B Parker)? Will they ever be around (Hobie and Margo)? Or will they turn their backs on you (Gwen)?

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

  • Show Comments

  • Charles

    So on point!!

  • TM1

    I’m sharing this. This article is the truth and made me think of my own instances where someone I didn’t know “did me a solid”….

  • Robert

    Great review

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