Phil Lord and Chris Miller have a long history in animation, and while they are now best known for films like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and The LEGO Movie, it was with the cult television series Clone High that they got their start. Obviously they've come a long way since they, but they definitely haven't forgotten their roots, as evidenced by the special Easter eggs that they included in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse:
It was because of Clone High that I first became a fan of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, so I was delighted when it came up in conversation when I sat down with them a few weeks ago at the Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Los Angeles press day. Knowing that there were many little hidden details featured all throughout the film, I asked if they had any particular favorites. After acknowledging the special nod to writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli -- the creators of Miles Morales -- the duo made special mention of the references back to their first television show.
Clone High -- which was an animated series following the high school adventures of the clones of historical icons -- only lasted one season, never seeing its main characters graduate, but Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse has a special callback to an institute of higher learning from that series. Specifically, there is a poster for Clone College, featuring the visage of Abraham Lincoln (voiced by Will Forte in the show), located in Times Square.
But that's not all. One of the weird trademarks of Clone High is that it had either a dolphin or a dolphin sound in every episode, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller have kept that tradition going during their movie career. All of their movies, both animated and live-action, have included the sound of a dolphin, and that includes Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (even though they didn't actually direct it). It's not immediately noticeable, as I actually didn't catch it during my first viewing of the feature, but according to the writers/producers it can be heard during all of the massive chaos in the big climactic third act fight sequence.
The Clone High references are clearly close to the hearts of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, but they definitely aren't the only ones featured in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. As we've written about, there are fake Seth Rogen and Edgar Wright movies that are advertised -- titles Hold Your Horses and From Dusk Till Shaun -- and if you pay attention you'll notice that the number 42 appears a lot, which is a number important in the history of Marvel Comics, but also itself a reference to A Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Hell, if you look at the television being watched by Uncle Aaron when he is introduced you'll notice he is watching Donald Glover on an episode of Community, which was a huge source of inspiration for the creation of Miles Morales.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is a film that is going to be immensely rewarding when watched over and over again, as there are tiny, special little details littered throughout that you're not paying attention to as much while you're trying to follow the plot. It's a little extra special in that way, on beyond just being a truly phenomenal experience.
Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is in theaters everywhere now.