New Spider-Verse Short Features The Freakiest Moment Of Any Spider-Man Project, And I Dunno How It Took This Long To Get Here

 In The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story.
In The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Story.

Anybody who’s ever engaged in Spider-Man adventures knows that great power comes with great responsibility, but the franchise always manages to steer clear of the arguably more universal perspective: spiders can be some of the freakiest, fear-sparking creatures on the planet. Well, some of the team behind the massively successful Spider-Verse features have once again shattered expectations in the form of the new animated mini-movie The Spider Within: A Spider-Verse Short, which features possibly the most harrowing moment in any Spidey project, all thanks to the eight-legged sources of Miles Morales’ powers.

Maybe “thanks” is the wrong word, even if I’m quite grateful that Sony Pictures Animation gave fans a chance to touch base with Shameik Moore’s Miles Morales and Bryan Tyree Henry’s Jeff again ahead of Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse and other upcoming Spider-Man projects. Because for as awesome as anything Spider-Verse-related can be, this short is meant to raise awareness for mental health, and thus features a few highly stressful moments for Miles that will no doubt spark anxiety in anybody who suffers from even an iota of arachnophobia. Check out the full short below, and take heed that the 4:30 mark is where the creepy-crawly elements are turned up to 11.

Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope nope. That’s one nope for every spider eyeball that needs to look somewhere else right now, instead of at my wide-eyed disgust. While I don’t necessarily fear spiders the way one might be afraid of a slasher movie monster, there’s something about being covered in tiny skittering creatures that immediately sparks cold sweats and jaw-stretching grimaces.

Do I realize that they’re all animated spiders and definitely cannot leap from my screen to attach themselves directly onto my eyeballs? Of course. I also know that there aren’t actually any spiders in the real world that would stand taller than Miles, and equally none that have the knowledge to know how to traverse a subway car. But does that make me any more comfortable with the idea of an arachnid crawling around on my tongue? Not for a Gwen Stacy-saving second.

Honestly, it's kind of bonkers that it took until 2024 to see a fully produced Spider-Man sequence go all Fear Factor by covering its main character in spiders in such a menacing way. I dunno if this is evolution, exactly, but I'm into it.

Outside of giving me the skeevy-jeevies — the gangly second cousin to the heebie-jeebies — The Spider Within is a well-crafted side trip to a more average day in Miles’ life that doesn’t involve saving the city. (Yet.) It’s the result of a partnership between Sony Pictures ANimation and the Kevin Love Fund, an organization dedicated to removing stigmas surrounding mental health. The short will be used within the org’s newest lesson plan focusing on mental health, dubbed “The Hero Within,” which is described as a way for “students to tell their own story through the lens of mental health awareness via an interactive curriculum.”

Within this franchise, it’s clear that Miles Morales is changing with the times and is striving closer to becoming a functioning adult. So it’s important for him to be able to talk out the wild variety of things going through his mind and body. And the same goes for anybody whose lives weren’t forever altered by radioactive spider bites.

Miles shooting webs on top of a moving train in Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.
Miles shooting webs on top of a moving train in Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse.

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A lot of people might not be comfortable expressing the idea that they turn ghostly pale at the thought of thousands of spider legs tiny-trampling across their skin and beyond. But I’m here to say it’s okay to say you mentally dry heave about it, but it’s also okay to not feel comfortable saying so, because I’m also here to loudly preach that thought out for everyone anyway.

I’d also like to stay at the pulpit to say this short, along with other moments within the Spider-Verse films so far, serve as definitive proof that the world could really use a straightforward horror movie with the webslinger front and center. A teen summer camp movie with a masked killer, with Peter or Miles as one of the counselors? I need to jump over to the universe where that exists.

Continuing one of comic book cinema’s most complex arcs, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse is one of many upcoming superhero movies that audiences can anticipate, though it will likely arrive beyond the 2024 movie schedule.