Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse is a new Marvel showing how being different can make you special. Being different it is usually perceived and portrayed in a negative way so I was really interested to see how Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse had parallels with those with additional needs. That and The Sensory Seeker is a massive Spider-Man fan so we were very keen to see a special screening.
Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse and Special Needs
Miles Morales is just a regular kid. He struggles to understand his dad and hates the school he is at. But then he gets bitten by a spider and his life changes. Meanwhile King Pin is blaming Spider-Man for losing his family, and opens up a portal to get a variation of them back, but this also lets in various forms of Spider-Man from several dimensions. Each one is different from the rest and of course completely dissimilar from the rest of their societies, with their own special powers. When they come together they realise that they are not the only ones and are able to identify with each other, as they work as a team to beat King Pin, after he kills that dimension’s Spider-Man. Miles is there when Peter Parker dies and promises him he will save the day.
I think it is easy to see the parallels – not everyone is born with a disability, and it can feel very isolating to have one. Just finding others who share experiences like your own can make such a difference.
Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse: Managing your Expectations
The whole theme of Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse for me is about managing your expectations. This is first introduced by the book Great Expectations and then Miles having to write up about his expectations. It is shown through Miles’ relationship with his Uncle and his Dad – and that actually how he expects them to be isn’t always the reality. That sometimes you just need to look at things differently to see them for what they really are. Other times you just expect things to be a certain way but they aren’t always like that (like them discovering that there actually is a Spider-Man costume with a cape!)
Again when dealing with additional needs you sometimes just have to adjust your expectations – of what the person can do, how things may go, how you think, how others may behave, etc. I know, for example, this Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year for The Sensory Seeker so I do not expect him to cope/behave in the same way, I make allowances and just try to keep him as happy as can be.
Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse: Trying and Reassuring
At first when Miles becomes like Spider-Man he doesn’t know what to do in order to help, and gets things wrong. For example when trying to jump off a building he keeps thinking about running down the stairs, and when he finally takes the leap of faith to jump trips on his shoe laces. Another time is when he pulls Gwen Stacey’s hair off because he doesn’t know how to control his powers.New things take time – whether that is learning to deal with things, or to handle being given a diagnosis for example. Sometimes others may be able to help and other times you really have just got to take that leap of faith yourself and give things a go. I know for example with our experience we have really discovered that punishment (such as taking away a games console) does not work (no matter how much that method is used by others) – and to try an alternate way (when so many others tell you it is wrong) is hard.
It is when Mile’s dad tells him that whatever he chooses to do he will be great, which really helps him to learn to deal with his new Spider-Man powers and saves the day. A quote from the film is that, “That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” That’s all we can do – is do the right thing, and that actually, love and nurturing is what is best for everyone.
Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse : Identifying with Others Like You
Several times the message of unity is portrayed during Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse, and of course it is with all the variations of Spider-Man coming together that really makes the difference. When Peter Parker dies his girlfriend Mary Jane says that, “We are all Spider-Man in our own way;” Stan Lee says that the Spider-Man suit “always fits, eventually”; and when Uncle Aaron dies only Spiders are the ones who truly understand. After all it is what makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man.
We may not feel like we fit, but eventually we grow and learn to be happy with who we are and who our tribe is. It is the very reason I write this blog, to help people feel less alone – and share ways I find have helped The Sensory Seeker be happier in life.
Thanks to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for telling us we’re not the only ones.
I was invited to a Special Screening of Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse. All opinions are honest and my own.
Images Marc Berry Reid, provided by Way to Blue.