How The Spot Became Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’s Unlikely Villain

Eric Goldman
Movies Comics
Movies Comics Marvel

SPOILERS follow for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Marvel Comics character The Spot made his debut all the way back in 1985’s The Spectacular Spider-Man #98 and #99 but has never become what you’d consider a top tier supervillain. With his odd appearance and ability to create black spots he can reach through (or pull someone into), he’s been mainly used as comic relief or for visually interesting but fairly low stakes and comedic fights against Spider-Man.

Now though, things are changing for The Spot in a big way thanks to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The acclaimed film makes Spot (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) the central villain, using his innate goofiness as a plot point to motivate him to level up, becoming more powerful and more dangerous in the process, as he learns he can use his spots to travel through the multiverse.

With a rather long list of better known and, traditionally, more formidable Spider-Man villains ahead of him, how did The Spot even end up in Across the Spider-Verse in the first place? Writer/Producer Phil Lord told Fandom, “Believe it or not, it was Avi Arad‘s idea,” referring to the former head of Marvel Studios, who has retained a producer credit on all the Spider-Man films even after departing Marvel way back in 2006.

Lord admitted that initially, upon hearing Arad’s suggestion, “We dismissed it because we were like ‘Spot’s kind of silly,” with his fellow Writer/Producer Christopher Miller noting that typically, Spot has been “Such a dorky villain.”

But then, Lord explained, “We started to think, ‘But that’s a great arc for a villain…’ To start out silly and resist your silliness and want to change your own narrative, which is thematically linked to what Miles is doing. So it seemed like a really good fit.”


Elaborating on their use of Spot, Joaquim Dos Santos — who directed the film alongside Justin K. Thompson and Kemp Powers — told Fandom, “I think from a character perspective, the idea is that he sort of plays a bit from the shadows. Nobody really gives him respect, but he’s got all the potential in the world. So he is, in this film, very much a work in progress. He evolves from the character you see in the beginning to a pretty powerful character by the end of the film.”

Dos Santos added they wanted to depict that work in progress nature of the character visually, pointing out, “You can see, literally, the blue lines, the sketches that the comic book artist would draw on the page, the ink that sort of builds up as his powers grow.”

A spotless Spot

Even with his comedic roots, Spot always popped visually and had a lot of potential in animation — he’d previously appeared in both the 1994 and 2017 Spider-Man animated series — and Dos Santos recalled, “We had one story artist in particular, where before he even knew The Spot was the villain, he was like, ‘Hey, what about The Spot? He’s like the coolest character that nobody knows about!”

That story artist, Wynton Redmond, was still in talks for the project at the time, having no idea Spot already was the villain, and Dos Santos said he was excited, thinking, “Let me tell you, buddy, he’s on his way!”


Across the Spider-Verse has a ton of various Spider-Man variants from across the multiverse in it – including the well meaning but quite antagonistic Spider-Man 2099 / Miguel O’Hara – meaning the filmmakers knew they wanted to avoid, say, an entire supervillain team for Miles to also deal with. As Kemp Powers put it, regarding Spot, “His powers have limitless potential, especially if you’re going to have something where you’re dealing with not one, not two, but like 100 Spider people.”

In the first movie, Into the Spider-Verse, along with a few other foes – and the complicated dynamics involved with Miles’ uncle, ​​Prowler / Aaron Davis – the main threats were Kingpin and Doctor Octopus / Liv Octavius, and Powers explained, “Someone like Doc Ock is such a great villain but to deal with this many [Spider] people, we didn’t want to do the Sinister Six.” While choosing just one villain, Powers said they asked, “What can be a character that can have a personal connection to Miles as well?”

As we learn, Spot was originally scientist Johnathon Ohnn, who blames Miles for his transformation thanks to events in the first movie while he was working at Kingpin’s company, ​​Alchemax (which also mimics the comics, where Ohnn became Spot while working for Kingpin). Powers remarked, “His arc, his journey is so much connected to Miles but then to [have him] become this multiversal level threat was great. And I gotta say, it’s just fun to see him in action executed in the way that we did it. Even though it came out much later, video games like Portal show you great examples of how you can just play around with the idea of portals and inertia. I’m so happy we decided to go with The Spot on this.”

By the film’s end, not only is Spot incredibly powerful and able to control his abilities in ways far beyond when we first met him, but a panicked Miles knows Spot is days away from causing the death of a loved one – one of the big cliffhanger elements we leave off on, setting up next year’s Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.

Miller said he felt Across the Spider-Verse is ultimately  “a coming of age story for the villain, a coming of story for the protagonist, a coming of age story for the parents… Everybody’s growing up and everybody is maturing and Spot seemed like a really fun challenge. Taking a character that you discount and then making him actually really scary.”

Eric Goldman
Eric Goldman is Managing Editor for Fandom. He's a bit obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, theme parks, and horror movies... and a few other things. Too many, TBH.