[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.]
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is such a mind-boggling achievement in animation that about halfway through, you start thinking that the movie has topped itself, there’s no way it could find a new way to mess with reality — and then a whole-ass live-action Donald Glover shows up.
Like so much of what went into the second epic installment of the Spider-Verse films, there’s a ton of thought and meaning in the actor/musician/iconoclast’s brief appearance. Below, we break down not just what it means for this film, but the whole messy expanded universe of Marvel films we now consume, a complicated, tangled web of continuity and canon in which we’re all ensnared…. And grateful for it, because it’s just so much fun.
Where Does Donald Glover Appear in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse?
Glover’s cameo comes as Miles Morales is being shown around the headquarters of the “elite,” universe-hopping Spider-Society. While on the tour, Miles is shown a gallery of captured “anomalies,” villains and other characters who have escaped their original realities through holes in the multiverse caused by the destruction of the super-collider in Into the Spider-Verse.
But Wait, Is Donald Glover Playing Himself?
While we wouldn’t put that past this movie, the answer is no — instead, the Atlanta creator is reprising his role as an alternate version of the Prowler, aka Aaron Davis.
What Do You Mean, Reprise? When Did Donald Glover Play the Prowler Before This?
Glover first appeared as the Prowler in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming — well, okay, he appeared as a shady guy named Aaron. He’s first seen trying to buy weapons from two lackeys (Logan Marshall-Green and Bokeem Woodbine) who work for The Vulture (Michael Keaton). Aaron seems particularly interested in some “anti-grav climbers,” a hint at the Prowler tech, before Spider-Man (Tom Holland, this time) breaks up the deal.
Later, Spidey tries to interrogate Aaron in a parking garage for information about the Vulture’s whereabouts. Glover’s appearances in the film is brief, but he does mention having a nephew in the neighborhood — a clear reference to young Miles. In fact, in a deleted scene, he actually calls Miles to apologize for not making an engagement.