Spidersonas: Anyone Can Wear the Mask
Sony’s 2018 academy award-winning, animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, explores a world where many variations of Spider-Man exist. This is made possible through the existence of multi-verses which all have their own spider hero.
The film introduces the general audience to fan favourites such as Gwen Stacy (Spider-Gwen), Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham, Peni Parker (SP//dr), and its protagonist, Miles Morales. It also features an alternate version of the original and best-known Spider-Man, Peter Parker, who is older, more pessimistic, and bored of his heroic duties.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s main message is that “anyone can wear the mask”. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do, the film highlights that everybody has the ability to adopt the mantle, whether that be literally or figuratively.
Artists from around the world have taken the film’s message literally and have managed to create a trend that successfully puts it into action. Across various social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, artists have created the ‘spidersona’ trend.
Started by Twitter user @Masked_Artist, spidersonas are original characters who take on the mantle of the Spider-hero. They exist in their own parallel universe which was influenced by the idea of the multiverse in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse where multiple heroes can take on the mantle of Spider-Man.
The term ‘spidersona’ derives from the words ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘persona’. These spidersonas often have spider-like abilities and powers, and are usually based off the creator’s personality, interests, and traits.
The ‘spidersona’ trend encourages creativity as artists are given the opportunity to create their own personalised interpretation of a Spider-hero. Artists can base their spidersona off existing spider-hero designs such as spandex suits, hoods, and masks, but can also use entirely original designs that have not been seen on a spider-hero before. Artists have also used real life spiders as design inspiration. An artist is not limited to any creative boundaries when it comes to creating their spidersona.
“A person’s race, ethnic background, and personal experience can be easily integrated through the artist’s costume design.”
Moreover, spidersonas are created in different ways and for different reasons. Some artists create one for fun, others create it with the intention of adding their own personality into the character, while some create to join in on the trend. This results in a diverse and wide array of spidersonas that are all personalised, unique, and imitable, but also still closely linked together through spider aesthetic.
As most spidersonas embody their creator’s personality, it has acted as a medium where people can express their identity in a creative way. Yes, it is possible that some artists may create their spidersona purely through aesthetic taste, but many posts have shown that the majority of spidersonas reflect the artist in one way or another. A person’s race, ethnic background, and personal experience can be easily integrated through the artist’s costume design. This emphasises how personal spidersonas can be and how they can easily represent the artist behind them.
What makes the trend of the spidersona so powerful is that is encourages a sense of community online. The trend is extremely encouraging, inclusive, and successfully sheds a positive light on internet trends. For example, artists online have created spidersona templates for non-artists to use, allowing non-artists to participate in the popular trend even if they believe they lack artistic skill. Small acts like this show how the spidersona community can be extremely supportive of one another, reflecting the message embedded in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Spidersonas also further encourages a sense of community between artists on various social media platforms. The trend allows people to be creative and imaginative, but also allows creators to show support to other artists through social media. As we live in a society where it is easy to put others down through online comments, it is refreshing to see the positivity towards spidersonas.
“Comic book publishers have been searching the spidersona hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram to find new and talented artists.”
Additionally, spidersonas are not only limited to the average superhero fan. Many celebrities have also joined in on the trend that celebrates creativity and diversity. Artist Tony Siruno has created a spidersona for Tony award-winner and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda’s spidersona sports his distinct hairstyle and features a design that is inspired by the Puerto Rican flag. Furthermore, co-creator of The Walking Dead Tony Moore has also created his own spidersona that is inspired by Colonel Sanders of KFC fame.
The spidersona trend has also opened up opportunities for young artists. Comic book publishers have been searching the spidersona hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram to find new and talented artists.
Brian Michael Bendis, the creator of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s protagonist Miles Morales, has also commented about the spidersona trend, “The #spidersona hashtag is my happy place”, indicating his endorsement on the movement.
The narrative of Spider-Man has always been about self-discovery and the spidersona trend has successfully brought this to life. Spidersonas have enabled fans to personalise their own version of ‘Spider-Man’ that closely reflects their interests, personality, and identity. Through the creation of diverse and unique spidersonas, the message in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is clear:
“What makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man”.