One of the core messages of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is that “anyone can wear the mask.” To be a hero, in this case, a Spider-Hero is democratic. From Miles, to Peter, to Gwen, Peni, and beyond, anyone of any background can be a Spider-Hero. The most uplifting phenomenon that encapsulates this is the #Spidersona hashtag. With it, Into the Spider-Verse fans from around the globe have made their own versions of Spider-Heroes. The Spidersona has become a canvass for artists expressing their personality and even cultural identity in the Spider-Verse. Fans have strongly responded to the film’s message of inclusivity on all fronts, including on representation. Even when the film has shown only a few Spider-People, the emphasis on this inclusive element has invited fans to be part of the Spider-Verse as well. Twitter user @Masked__Artist was the one who kicked it all off.
I was fortunate enough to interview a few Spidersona artists for But Why Tho? and ask them how the message of the film resonated with them. I interviewed Fara (@hateehateeyo), Bailee (@undivineshepard), and Minty (@tinymintywolf) via Twitter DMs. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity. Go check out their work, and find other amazing artists through the #Spidersona tag.
How did you first find the hashtag #Spidersona? What did it mean to you to see this?
Fara: I found out because I saw a comment on my post talking about it. I didn’t know about it at first but now I do and I think it’s pretty cool! I also think that it allows people to be creative and imaginative in coming up with their own Spidersonas.
Bailee: I first saw the hashtag two days ago on my timeline after someone I follow began retweeting people’s art. I usually don’t participate in things like this, but the whole message of Into The Spider-verse was “anyone can wear the mask” and I had just saw the film and was really inspired.
Minty: I think I first saw a couple of friends using the tag on twitter, and it got me really excited! After seeing the movie I thought a concept like that would be so much fun, so it was great to see people had the same idea.
How does your Spidersona reflect you?
Fara: I think my Spidersona reflects me in a way of being comfortable with who I am by having the hijab on. Seeing a lot of support and people liking the Muslim representation just shows so much more about the importance of these kinds of representations for others.
Bailee: My characters not only reflect me on the basis of race and ethnic background, but they have the same interests, childhood, etc. as me. Basically, I asked what if when I was a teenager I got bit by a radioactive spider and then ran with the idea. Seeing Miles on screen made me so happy and also kinda sad. Happy because I instantly connected with the character and was emotionally invested front the start. I felt like I was watching my little brother on the screen and it was fascinating. I was a little sad because I wish Miles were around when I was a kid, and I could’ve felt this earlier in life.
what if i took spider man and made him…black?
but now what if i took black spider man and made him…twins?
— lee (@undivineshepard) December 22, 2018
Minty: I know the main idea of a Spidersona is basing a character off of yourself, but mine has sort of already taken on a life of her own, haha. I think most of all, her design reflects my personal aesthetic– I used my favorite colors on her costume and wanted it to look like an outfit I would feel comfortable in myself! It was cool to see Spider-Gwen and Peni on the big screen too! I mainly care about characters that are well-developed, gender is sort of secondary to that for me, but it’s definitely exciting to see more variety within the superhero genre these days.
What’s your favorite aspect of the phenomenon of #Spidersona, and how do you think it shows the message of Into the Spider-Verse?
Fara: My favorite aspect would be what I’ve stated before; allowing one’s creativity to flow and evolve. Some create their Spidersonas for fun, some do it and put little things about themselves into their sonas. This results in the creation of a lot of different and unique Spidersonas, just like in Spider-Verse where different spider people came from different dimensions and each possessed different traits about themselves.
Bailee: My favorite aspect is how encouraging it is. I feel as if it is a direct reflection of the message and the intent of the filmmakers. Anyone can wear the mask and be a hero and this is the fans responding to the message in a positive way.
Minty: I just love seeing how many different ways people can interpret the concept of Spider-man for themselves. It really highlights creative individuality, but also gives people opportunities to contribute to the idea as a community. “What makes you different is what makes you Spider-man” is one of my favorite quotes from the movie, and I think the Spidersona trend really reflects that idea.
What do you imagine your Spidersona’s daily routine to be like?
Fara: I imagine her daily routine would basically just be filled with regular everyday things. She would do most of the spidey work at night if she has time. As much as she likes to play vigilante, she’s still a student and students have homework to do, hahaha.
Bailee: As for their daily routine, since they are teenagers they wake up at like 7 for school and then they have extracurricular activities (cheer and lacrosse). I think it’s really cool since there are two of them they don’t both need to be off saving the city at the same time, makes it easy to keep cover. Their day to day reflects my own when I was in high school: in class all day and then extracurriculars till like 6 pm.
Minty: My Spidersona is definitely a night owl, like myself! I imagine that she’s a bit of a loner too, she works from home as a website/graphic designer during the day and does her crime-fighting at nighttime.
If I could draw, I’d give my Spidersona a blue and black suit. Like me, he’d be a data analyst and political nerd, whose daily routine includes work and fighting crime with friends. Using his data skills, he’d use historic crime data to set up an algorithm that could track where the bad guys would strike next. He’d also obviously be brown and Middle Eastern like me. I’d be able to see myself represented in the Spider-Verse as the film has invited many others to.
There are now hundreds, if not thousands of Spidersonas on social media. Thank you @Masked__Artist for jumpstarting this movement that personifies the message of Into the Spider-Verse on such a fundamental level.
This article has been updated at 1:16 12/25/18 to properly credit the Twitter user who started #Spidersona.