How Doc Ock Got That Gender Swap In Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Olivia Octavius leaping towards the camera

One of the coolest plot twists that dropped in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is the fact that an unsuspecting audience was introduced to a brand new incarnation of a legendary villain in the Spider-Man Universe of Characters. Instead of Doctor Otto Octavius being the eight-tentacled baddie in the Academy Award winning film, we were introduced to Kathryn Hahn’s gender swapped Dr. Olivia “Liv” Octavius. This change happened because one of Hahn's friends just happened to be the film’s co-director.

As Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was the subject of an online watch party this week, several of the important figures in the film’s production were on hand to drop a lot of knowledge. Co-writer/director Rodney Rothman provided some particularly insightful knowledge, in the following Twitter post from the night’s festivities:

If it wasn’t for fellow co-director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Bob Perschietti knowing Kathryn Hahn through their children, we would have had a way different version of Doc Ock terrorizing Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker in their quest to save the multiverse.

Just reading that description of a Big Lebowski type guy” has us thinking about Jeff Bridges taking the role, which might have been way too close for comfort considering Bridges was already MCU baddie Obadiah Stane by this point.

Though funny enough, there was another character attribute that producer/co-writer Phil Lord divulged in talking about the original Doc Ock. In his own commentary on the matter, Lord gave out just how much planning went into this variant of the character, before Kathryn Hahn’s Liv was swapped in:

So instead of the hippie-looking, crazy-haired scientist that showed up in that class video Miles Morales so conveniently interrupted during his first day of school, we almost got a potential Otto Octavius that would have liked slacking, bowling and possibly called everyone “Man.” That’s not a terrible option, especially with the right casting; but even in the light of that potential, the end result we saw come to pass in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is too memorable to even want to go too far down that alternate path.

Not to mention, the big reveal that the movie uses to tell us that Dr. Olivia Octavius is Doc Ock in this universe is still a killer moment of shocked gasps and suspense. It helps kick the film into another gear, truly nailing the theme of how anyone can be a hero or a villain. Plus, the cherry on the top is it gave Kathryn Hahn another opportunity to play a darker, more sinister character than usual. Her casting only lent the off-beat sensibility that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was going for all the more credibility.

Olivia Octavius is one of those characters we can’t see any other way after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse let her do her thing. With all the talk about the sequel film flying about, one can only hope that Dr. Olivia Octavius survived her brush with fate, in the form of a speeding truck within a particle collider reaction. Yes, she was a villain, but she was a really good one, with rumors of becoming a big bad already being attached to her character. I guess you really can’t keep a good baddie down, man.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is currently streaming on Netflix, with Into the Spider-Verse 2 set for an October 7, 2022 release date.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.