Sony, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Games, and animated spinoffs all pull from the same source material: comic books. And one Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse easter egg might have inspired the Zombie Hunter Spider-Man in the latest What If…? episode.
The ‘Spider-Verse’ easter egg and Zombie Hunter Spider-Man
While Marvel has published thousands of comics since Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, the iconic characters and storylines always bubble back to the surface.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse featured innumerable easter eggs. References to the controversial Spider-Jeep, the oft-forgotten villain team, the Enforcers, and the spider-suits.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), while trying to set himself apart from other spider-people, attempted to add a cape to his costume. Peter B. Parker (New Girl’s Jake Johnson) adamantly stated that Spider-Man does not wear a cape.
However, Miles discovers that another version of Spider-Man wore a cape on at least one occasion.
“Hey Peter, I think this is a cape,” Miles taunted.
In promotional material for Marvel’s What If…?, the same Spider-Verse easter egg seemed to appear once more. Dubbed ‘Zombie Hunter Spider-Man,’ he stands with a red cloak draped over his shoulders.
However, there is some debate over what story this cape could allude to.
What If…Spider-Man had never become a crimefighter?
Besides Zombie Hunter Spider-Man, when else has the web-slinger donned a cape? The most likely candidate is a What If…? story from 1980.
In the issue, Spider-Man stops the burglar before he kills Uncle Ben. However, this results in Peter Parker not learning the age-old “with great power comes great responsibility” quote. He sets out to become famous.
Over the course of the story, he dons a spider-themed cloak. Long, red, sporting a high collar, it is one of the few times the web-slinger sported a cape.
However, the comic cape and the Spider-Verse easter egg are not an identical match.
The collar in the comic does not stand up like it does in the movie. The most glaring difference seems to be the webbing pattern. The original cape had Spider-Man’s classic webbing design like the rest of his costume, while the Spider-Verse version lacks this.
A solid red cloak with a popped collar reminded fans of a certain master of the mystic arts. What If…? episode 5 shows that Zombie Hunter Spider-Man fighting alongside Dr. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation. Did Spider-Verse beat the Disney+ show to the punch?
Is Zombie Hunter Spider-Man a reference to the ‘Spider-Verse’ easter egg?
One look at the cloak in Spider-Verse or the What If…? promotional material, and several fans thought of Doctor Strange’s. His Cloak of Levitation is hard to mistake, with the high collar and design.
However, as of 2018, Spider-Man never donned the cloak and certainly never kept it. So what does the Spider-Verse easter egg reference?
Both the Disney+ show and Spider-Verse might not be referencing comics at all.
In a 2014 episode of Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, Spider-Man teamed up with Dr. Strange to fight Dormammu. Given the Eye of Agamotto, this was actually the first time Spider-Man ever mashed up with the Sorcerer Supreme.
Calling himself the ‘Spider Supreme,’ the cloak in the Spider-Verse easter egg most resembles this appearance and very well may be a reference to the animated show.
With Spider-Man fighting hoards of zombies alongside Dr. Strange’s cloak, Zombie Hunter Spider-Man could be a reference to both Spider-Verse or the animated series.
Alternatively, he could also just be Spider-Man in the Cloak of Levitation. Regardless of how it came about, at least Miles gets to taunt Peter a bit more about Spider-Man in a cape.