Is Marvel’s Spider-Gwen trans? The Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse speculation explained

Here’s everything you need to know about Spider-Gwen, the character voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, in the movie explained with plenty of spoilers. In the days since the movie’s release, fans have speculated whether Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen is coded as trans or transgender, but few fans have voiced this idea. The sequel to the animated movie offers plenty of conversation fodder, with cliffhangers and Easter eggs worth exploring from several universes.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Maslany and Tatiana Cheadle made promotional media appearances, wearing shirts that connected them to Marvel. They also appeared on screen in recurring roles. In one shot of the movie, the doorframe of Gwen’s bedroom can be seen with a poster that includes a cold opening, which sparked speculation about Gwen being transgender.

Many individuals who interpret Gwen’s trans acts have cited common sources of inspiration that they share. Some of the most shared posts have been made or deleted by accounts that have been set to ‘private.’

Colors of the Trans Pride Flag

Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

One line of reasoning that many have cited is that Gwen may be trans, as evidenced by the presence of the trans flag colors throughout her home universe and the amplified colors on Gwen’s costume, which come out during a climactic scene where she reveals her identity as Spider-Woman to her father. Additionally, the colors of the trans pride flag, which are pink, light blue, and white, are generally appearing throughout the color scheme of the dimension. This color scheme was designed by Monica Helms.

The visual style of Spider-Gwen #2, which amplified and continued in the interior art, reflected the respective universes of Miles Morales and Peter Parker. The cover of Gwen’s first appearance in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 heavily inspires this aesthetic, using an impressionistic and pastel palette to differentiate Gwen’s universe from the others. It is worth noting that this aesthetic heavily draws inspiration from the source material.

It appears that Gwen’s universe is filled with various shades of color due to the tinges that filter the colors, which incidentally make this badge appear as a different color. However, it is most likely that Stacy, the police captain and Gwen’s father, appeared to be wearing the trans flag on his uniform, which some online individuals have argued to be a representation of being transgender.

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How Spider-Gwen’s journey resonates with the trans community

Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

In the sequence where Gwen reveals her identity as Spider-Woman to her father, the theme of leading a double life and concealing one’s authentic self, which resonates with transgender adolescents who are compelled to hide their true selves from their families, is explored. There are numerous other aspects of Gwen’s journey that parallel the experiences of transgender individuals, particularly those who are in their teenage years, just like the characters in the movie.

In the wardrobe, whether it’s part-time or not, relatable can be both a Spider-Man tale and an archetypical story. It takes emotional labor to accomplish this, as well as the acknowledgment of one’s truth and the necessity of hiding it. Both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, as well as other interpretations of Spidey like Gwen, can be seen in almost any version of the character. The duality is frequently difficult but necessary, reflecting situations where even those closest to them may be forced to conceal their true gender for reasons of safety and depending on their privilege and situation, regardless of age.

The movie serves as a parallel, metaphorical, and straightforward entry into the liminal multiverse. Gwen’s original universe, from which her homes were once exiled, is the prompt for the trans people’s exodus from places across the country. The advent of anti-trans draconian laws in multiple states prompts the release of the movie. Another reason why Gwen’s experience is relatable for trans audience members is the fact that her existence has been deemed illegal.

The Spider-Man Who is Easy to Relate to

Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Another aspect that trans fans are likely to relate to, which seems to be common among all Spider-Heroes, is the constant presence of alleged journalist J. Jonah Jameson. Just like his fixation on Spider-Man, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle also seems to be fixated on trans people, unable to move on from his obsession even across different dimensions of the multiverse. However, there is another aspect that trans fans are likely to relate to, which seems to be common among all Spider-Heroes: the continuous background noise of alleged journalist J. Jonah Jameson.

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The interdimensional movie’s distinctive voice finds parallel presence in this experience. It can seem inescapable that this coverage may be libelous. In recent days, the audience can recognize a reflection of the denigrating falsehoods about us through ostensibly legitimate journalistic outfits. Moreover, when we know the truth about Spidey’s heroic character, we also know that Jameson’s constant cries about the “menace” are a constant reflection of his character.

Spidey’s obsession with the media is significantly evident, as demonstrated time and again in Marvel comics panels, theaters, television, and even supermarkets. This explains the immense popularity of the character, whose true and tried marketability has been proven. Additionally, there are many other elements of Spider-Man’s mythology that make it relatable to people across demographics, beyond just being a relatable community for the transgender community.

Is Gwen truly transgender?

Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

Did the filmmakers intend for Gwen to be trans-coded in this multiple inquiry? The first question is, did the filmmakers intend for Gwen to be trans-coded or did they intend for Gwen to be trans-coded? These questions further complicate the reality of animated filmmaking by calling for the collective efforts and talents of individual craftspeople, each of whom brings their own personal perspective to the work.

‘Author.’ If there are competing interpretations, one’s own interpretation can be compromised. However, even if there are competing interpretations, nothing can stop the viewer from ultimately deciding how to personally interpret the character as trans. There are plenty of reasons why they might not stop – as analyzed above.

Evolution, in the subsequent five movies of the Dead cycle, intentionally utilized and embraced the subtext of the Dead’s genesis, despite it being unintentional. One notable example is Romero’s reassessment of the thematic commentary on race in the United States, describing the Night of the Living Dead movie from 1968 as an “accident birth.” Furthermore, there is a precedent for filmmakers retroactively embracing subtextual interpretations to uncover the meaning that was not intended during the creative process.

Finally, attempting to ‘prove’ that Gwen is trans by citing physical characteristics of trans Gwen is ultimately unreasonable and deeply flawed, as it is harmful and inaccurate to both trans and cis people alike. Moreover, the movie predominantly features animated characters, but it includes a gamut of minifigures from LEGO, living on a parchment design schematics.

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Can Gwen still connect with trans fans if she is cisgender?

Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

The movie demonstrates the unqualified empathy between the two leading characters, Miles and Gwen, by showcasing how deeply they can empathize with each other despite their different origins and dimensions in the Spider-Verse concept. This fact is demonstrated through a dialogue between Miles, voiced by Shameik Moore, and Gwen in the middle of the movie. Yes, the answer to this question is unequivocal.

Even if the character is not explicitly identified as transgender, the struggle Gwen faces in coming to terms with her father being Spider-Woman can still be relatable, serving as an example. When we cannot see ourselves represented in terms of our transgender identities, it is inevitable that we will relate to cisgender characters for various reasons. Representation of transgender people in mass media will always exist and have always existed, regardless of the reasons.

Is it possible for Gwen to be retroactively portrayed as transgender?

Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation

The impact of the upcoming sequel on fan responses or understandings of the second movie is limited due to the simultaneous production of the third movie, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, set to release in March 2024. It is conceivable that future portrayals of the character may emphasize the transgender allegory, or explicitly establish the character as transgender, despite Gwen originally being intended as a cis character and the trans representation noticed by fans being unintentional.

Another possibility is that this character might be a variant multiversal version of Peter or Gwen, an established hero in the Spider-Verse, who has chosen to wear a mask and become the protector of New York City, just like her fellow Spider-friends. However, this character could also be an original trans character, adding to the ever-growing roster of Spider-Verse heroes.

In the collective awareness, the favorable portrayal of individuals who identify as transgender reinforces the ongoing importance of conveying a powerful message by featuring transgender characters prominently. Instead of having a cisgender actor assume the role, introducing a new transgender character in the Spider-Verse would allow for the casting of a transgender actor in this part.

There is a significant demand in the mainstream media for trans representation, as demonstrated by the large amount of attention given to media superheroes and the social media reaction. This is especially true for Spider-Gwen, whose trans coding may have been unintentional. It is hoped that future installments of the Spider-Verse franchise, specifically in the media superhero genre, will also address this demand for trans representation and receive significant attention from social media.

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