Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. This week we’re checking out a BROTP: Spidercouple.
Who Are Spidercouple?
Okay, so I really wanted to talk about the friendship between Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy that we see in Into the Spider-Verse. But I wasn’t sure what the ship name was. I saw Spidercouple on a Reddit post (I went on Reddit for this, I wanted to know). I’m pretty sure that was intended as a romantic shipname more than a BROTP, but I’m going with it.
Miles Morales is the entirely lovable protagonist of Into the Spider-Verse. He’s a middle school prodigy who has recently tested into Brooklyn Visions Academy, putting him in a strange new world he’s not entirely comfortable with. This will be a hint of what’s to come as Miles encounters an even stranger new world throughout the film.
When he’s feeling frustrated and disconnected at the academy, Miles breaks out and goes to visit his uncle Aaron. Aaron knows how to cheer Miles up and takes him to an abandoned subway station to practice his graffiti skills. A nice gesture, but this changes things forever: while there, Miles is bitten by a strange mutated spider.
Well, we all know how that goes. Miles wakes up with strange new powers, which make his life more difficult. Desperate to find out more, he goes back to the station. While there, he finds Spider-Man in a fierce battle. In between bouts, Spider-Man promises to teach Miles the ropes. Sadly, he then dies, but not before charging Miles with saving the multiverse.
A bunch of strange characters come through a dimensional portal, starting with Peter B. Parker. Delighted to have a second chance at learning from Spider-Man, plus having help to save the day, Miles latches on to the unenthusiastic Parker. They later team up with several other spider-people from multiple dimensions.
The group succeed in saving the day and returning to their own dimensions. Along the way, Miles learns the most important lesson: to have faith in himself. When everyone else leaves, he’s left alone in his dimension as the only Spider-Man. But he’s well suited to keep saving the day, and starts his career as a superhero. And he knows he’s not alone.
Gwen Stacy is another major player in Into the Spider-verse. She is the first spider person Miles encounters, though he doesn’t know it at the time. Instead, he thinks she is merely another new student at the academy and is pleased when it seems like she might be the first friend he makes there. Little does Miles know that Gwen is not what she appears.
See, Gwen is Spider-Woman in her own universe. Her story is familiar, if slightly different: bitten by a radioactive spider, Gwen develops strange powers and begins fighting crime. Instead of losing her uncle, she loses her best friend, Peter Parker.
After losing Peter, Gwen dedicates her entire life to fighting crime, closing herself off and becoming isolated. When a dimensional portal brings her to a new dimension, she sets about trying to save the day and return to her own universe. This puts her in the pathway of Miles, who doesn’t seem to understand Gwen’s “no friends” policy.
Gwen still shows up to save the day when Miles and Peter B., attempting to steal technology to control the portal, run afoul of Doc Ock. This leads to Gwen revealing herself to Miles. He’s thrilled to know the potential new friend he’d found is like him. When Gwen closes herself off, telling Miles she’s here for a mission not to make friends, he’s disappointed.
Over the course of the film, though, the pure sunshine that is Miles breaks through Gwen’s isolation. She sees him try, sees him learn and grow, and knows that he is someone worth befriending. Before she goes through the portal to head home, she tells him they can be friends. Later, she pops up, showing that Miles still has contact with Gwen, at least.
Why Is Spidercouple BROTP?
There was a lot to love about Spider-Verse, and in particular the relationships that form between the various spider-based superheroes that pop up in Miles’ life. His mentoring relationship with Peter B. is particularly sweet, and, although we don’t see them as much, Peni Parker, Spider Noir, and Peter Porker are all good characters who care for Miles.
But the developing Spidercouple relationship between Miles and Gwen is especially interesting. Maybe it’s because they are peers, unlike the nearly father/son relationship we get with Peter B. Or maybe it’s because Gwen’s stoic isolationist policy is no match for Miles’ pure, unadulterated sunshine. Whatever it is, Spidercouple was an excellent part of an excellent movie. However, given that both Miles and Gwen in this movie are middle-school aged, I just do not see this as a romantic pairing. As a BROTP, though, Spidercouple hits all the right notes.
You Don’t Get To Like My Haircut
The progression of Spidercouple is a lot of fun. It almost has elements of enemies-to-friends, but also has hints of a meet cute. It’s an interesting progression that defies an easy categorization, but it adds a lot of fun to both their friendship and the movie.
When Gwen and Miles first meet, it’s two awkward teenagers in an awkward situation. When Miles is late to class, his teacher calls him out. Miles responds with a joke about Einstein’s theory of relativity meaning he’s not actually late; his audience responds with crickets. One person finds it funny though — Gwen laughs.
As Miles heads to his seat, he and Gwen share a quick, sweet conversation before they’re shut down by the teacher. When Miles goes to his uncle’s house later, they talk about the new girl Miles met and how he might have a shot with her. Aaron gives Miles advice, and he’s eager to put the moves to the test. Unfortunately, the next time he sees Gwen, Miles is freaking out in the wake of his newly discovered spider powers. He is too nervous to focus properly, not even noticing that Gwen — who introduced herself as Gwanda — is herself nervous. Of course, things then get bad when Miles’ newly sticky hands attach to Gwen’s hair, necessitating cutting her hair.
It’s not a great start. The meet cute seems more like a false start, and that they’re now destined to an awkward enmity. Even after Gwen reveals her truth and saves Miles, things seem frosty. As Miles learns, however, and comes into his own, Gwen helps him along. By the time she returns to her own universe, she’s declared them at least friends. It’s a sweet progression.
I Don’t Do Friends
The thing about the relationship progression in Spidercouple isn’t just that it’s cute and fun to watch. It represents a lot of character growth, on both parts. In order to get to the point where Gwen and Miles can be friends, they both have a lot of developing to do, and it’s fun — and, at times, poignant — to watch.
Gwen has to open up. From the moment she reveals her identity, Gwen is clear: she doesn’t do friends. She lost her best friend, failed to save him, and she can’t get over that. So she decides the only way to continue is to just close herself off and protect herself from any future pain. No friends means she won’t have to deal with losing anyone else, in her mind at least.
But that’s a lonely life. Crime fighting doesn’t fill a whole life, and Gwen needs friends. So Miles is good for her. Miles gets her to open up. When Gwen tries to rebuff him, keep him at arms’ length, Miles isn’t having it. He wants to befriend Gwen, saw something in her when they met at school, and he’s not going to leave it be. And he manages to get her to open up and make a friend again.
For his part, Miles needs to learn who he is. At the start of the film he’s lost. He’s in a new world and doesn’t know what to do. But over the course of the movie, Miles learns how to be Spider-Man. More importantly, he learns how to be himself. Until Miles gets himself sorted out, he can’t be the friend Gwen needs. She doesn’t need to worry about losing Miles because he doesn’t understand his powers. In the end, they can be friends because they grew together.
What’s Next For Spidercouple?
Into the Spider-Verse was a massive hit (hello Academy) and people are already clamoring for more. Even before the film released, Sony announced both a sequel and a spin-off, so fans are sure to have more fantastic spider-y good content ahead. But what can we expect for our favorite Spidercouple?
A lot, as it turns out. Although Gwen returned to her own dimension at the end of Spider-Verse, she pops back in right before the conclusion of the film, saying hi to Miles through a smaller (and hopefully less destructive) dimensional portal. So it seems they’re not destined to be forever parted, which is great news for fans of this pairing.
Now, we know that there is more Spidercouple in the works — with some interesting developments, too. Amy Pascal, one of the producers for Spider-Verse and a big name at Sony who’s been working on Spider-Man for awhile, spoke with Vanity Fair about the sequel and what we can expect.
Firstly, we’ll definitely see more Spidercouple. Miles will reunite with Gwen (although Nerdist does point out that it’s not clear if it’s the Gwen we saw in Spider-Verse or the Gwen from Miles’ dimension). More specifically, according to Pascal, we will see Spidercouple morph from a BROTP to a developing romance.
So in terms of what’s next for Spidercouple, it’s all coming up roses. Not only do we know for a fact that we’ll see them again in a sequel, which promises more excellent content, we have the joy of seeing their relationship develop even further. I, for one, can’t wait. Seriously. Sony: when?
Is Spidercouple Canon?
If we consider Spidercouple solely as a BROTP, then yes, it is canon. Although it took some work, transitioning through various stages of cool dislike and interest, on their respective parts, Gwen and Miles eventually sort things out. Miles broke through Gwen’s walls and Gwen opened up to Miles. By the end of the film, they are solidly friends.
In terms of anything more, then no, Spidercouple is not canon. There are hints that there could be more. Miles definitely seems interested in Gwen. He tells his uncle Aaron that there is a new girl when Aaron asks Miles if he’s got any game. Miles could be posturing for his uncle, but it does genuinely seem like he likes Gwen.
For her part, Gwen is not at that point. She thinks Miles is funny, but won’t even allow herself to have friends, let alone a romantic relationship. She gently rebuffs Miles, jokingly reminding him that she’s older than him, before accepting that they are, at least, friends.
So at the moment, things are stalled at friends with maybe some interest, at least on Miles’ part. But that’s okay. They are both children (babies to this old person) and it’s good to see them have a solid, lovely friendship. Plus, a relationship that develops from friendship has more potential to last (plus it’s so much fun to watch).
We may yet get canon Spidercouple, if we take Pascal’s words to heart. The sequel should give us that delicious developing friends-to-lovers content I crave. But as it stands, I can’t be disappointed with what we have. Platonic Spidercouple is just as fantastic and just as fun to watch. I love both Gwen and Miles, and their relationship is too cute, whatever form it takes.