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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Read on at your own risk!
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a film jam-packed with Spider-People. Miles Morales is the headliner, but he's joined by two Peter Parkers, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Noir and the adorable Peni Parker -- each of whom have their own special part to play in the movie. It's a group that works well together on screen, and all have origins in the comics, but during production there was consideration for one more Spider-Man, as I learned from co-director Rodney Rothman:
We created an Australian Spider-Man. He showed up with the other Spiders, and he said he was 24 hours ahead, and then he glitched to death. So everyone was going to be like, 'Oh, it's going to be 24 hours.' That was the official ticking clock.
Yup: there was some thought put to an eighth prominent Spider-Man featured in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and his entire gag was going to center around him being Australian, and thus a few time zones ahead of the rest of the ensemble. As noted by Rothman, the joke was also designed to be a specific plot element, forcing the Spider-People to act quickly and stop the Kingpin from re-activating his Super Collider, but it never wound up being a part of the actual film.
Rodney Rothman spoke about Australian Spider-Man when I sat down with him and co-directors Peter Ramsay and Bob Persichetti during the Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse press day late last month. Not only did he reveal the bit, but he also explained -- with hearty laughter -- why it never ended up being in serious consideration for the story. According to Rothman, the idea really just came too late into development, as it was included as a change in a draft of the script way too far into production:
When I handed that draft of the script in I was nearly fired, mainly just because it was at a time in production when the idea of adding another Spider-Man... it demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of film production. [laughs]
Of course, we can still lament that the gag doesn't exist, if not just because it's an idea that makes the imagination run wild. Australian Spider-Man would presumably don an Aussie hat over his mask, and perhaps he could have special webshooters that allow him to curve his web fluid in a boomerang-like arc. His origin story could even have a special angle given the reputation of arachnids down under.
Then there is the casting opportunity that goes to waste, as we could have had an Australian great join the lineup that includes Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Chris Pine, Hailee Steinfeld, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Kimiko Glenn, and more. Chris Hemsworth or Hugh Jackman would probably be the obvious choices given their extensive comic book movie backgrounds, but Eric Bana, Joel Edgerton, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke, or Ben Mendelsohn could have been excellent too.
The fact that the idea wasn't outright rejected, however, means that perhaps Australian Spider-Man could live on in a future project. We already know that there is going to be a sequel to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse that will further explore the vast infinity of the multiverse, so perhaps there might be a way to implement Rodney Rothman's idea at some point in the future.