Across The Spider-Verse: You VS. The World
Updated: Nov 29
In a foreign world. Out of your element. Everyone around you has come to a belief of something you absolutely cannot support. Disagreeing with the people around you can lead to your downfall.
This describes not only Miles Morales, but also 3 young anomalies known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We’re going to swing a bit deeper into both their stories.
Miles and Gwen spent a lot of their time after Into the Spider-Verse longing for a community. Longing to be part of a group. Longing for somewhere to belong.
As Gwen states; “I always wanted to be in a band. Guess I just never found the right one. In this line of work, you always wind up as a solo act.” Miles echoes similar thoughts; “Sometimes I just wish I wasn’t the only one.” Isolation can be a killer emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That’s why when we get the opportunity to join a group or community, it can be so empowering or enthralling, because we see it as a chance to finally be free of isolation.
We see this forcefully put on the young Israelites in the book of Daniel. Jerusalem was besieged and young leaders were taken into the community of the king.
“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.” - Daniel 1: 3-5
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were 4 of these young men, and they suddenly found themselves part of a group and collective they never anticipated. After blazing their own trail and setting themselves apart, they were able to move forward in their journeys.
“Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.” - Daniel 2:48-49.
These were young men that found themselves suddenly part of an organization they never imagined and while they weren’t there on the best of terms, they were there none the less.
This is similar to how Gwen found herself as part of the Spider Society. She was the fallout of a battle, not only with the Vulture, but also with her father. She was brought reluctantly by Miguel and Jess, she was part of the group, but also clearly not fully welcomed.
When Miles learned of the society though, it was all he could hope for. A community of people that understood him. A chance to see his friends, and most importantly Gwen. He would have the chance to prove himself among the ranks of Spider-Men, but he wasn’t welcome as he would soon find out.
Gwen tells Miles that there aren’t really a lot of slots. She tells him that it’s a small elite strike force. She tries to gently dissuade him, but after the canon is disrupted in Mumbattan, Miles finds out first hand just how unwelcome he is. Even in the process Miles is still pining to be part of the group. To be part of the family. Part of the community.
Hobie asks Miles an important question, “Why you wanna be part of this lot?”
Miles didn’t fully understand who these people were, or what they were about. What he did understand is that he didn’t want to be alone.
Hobie further warns Miles before things fall apart, “Don’t enlist till you know what war you’re fighting.”
Isolation is painful, but the wrong association can be equally dangerous.
Back to our Israelites.
Daniel has secured his place in the royal court and the other 3 are off administrating over Babylon. It’s at this time things get a bit rough.
“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” - Daniel 3:1-6
All of Nebuchadnezzar’s leaders had to be part of this action, including Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It was an idea that everyone else seemingly just decided to go along with, without any complaint.
Miles found himself in a similar place of tension when he found out the Spider Society’s perspective on canon events, and their willingness to just watch people die so the narrative may live on.
“They are the canon. Chapters that are part of every spider’s story. Every time. Some good. Some bad. Some very bad.... Canon events are the connections that bind our lives together, but these connections can be broken. You break enough canon, save enough captains, and we could lose everything” - Miguel.
Miles responds not surprisingly, “What is this, is this an intervention or something? Is that why you’re here? To let me down easy? ...You can’t ask me not to save my father!”
Miles later goes on to say, “I wanted to be with you guys so badly, but this isn’t what I thought it was.”
These young men across the board are facing this overwhelming pressure from the people they have connected and found identity in. They are expected to fall in line. To believe what everyone else believes. Just like Miguel knew Miles would be trouble, other leaders of Nebuchadnezzar’s regime knew Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would be trouble too.
“At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king,” - Daniel 3:8-13
The three Israelites found themselves bound and threatened with death before a king. Miles finds himself bound in a cage, and then later pursued and pinned to a moving train with an army in pursuit. The four of them were considered the enemy and in the place to be destroyed because they didn’t fit the way others agreed. They were the anomalies. As hard as being lonely and isolated is, they were willing to face that isolation and being antagonized to reject what others tried to force on them. We often find ourselves in places of conflict. Whether it’s cultural, ethical, political, or maybe even multiversal. You find yourself just seemingly being the one person who sees the situation differently and you just have to refuse to fall in line.
Miles gave the famous line that captured the entirety of who he was, and who he was going to be.
“Everyone keeps telling me how my story is supposed to go. Nah. I’mma do my own thing.”
Miles faced overwhelming odds, and what seemed like sure defeat, and still refused to bow down.
His line, and that delivery were absolutely iconic, but the three Israelites still have one of the most punk rock responses in the history of history.
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” - Daniel 3:16-18.
These guys said, our God can save us, and even if He doesn’t, we still won’t bow. That’s punk rock. Even Hobie would be proud.
That’s the kind of integrity and tenacity that we should strive for daily in our lives. To be that bold. To have enough confidence in who we are, and who our God is, that we stop trying to fit into places we don’t belong, and to choose those brief moments of human isolation and aggression over compromise and compliance.
While we still have to wait for Beyond the Spider-Verse to release to see how Miles’ story plays out, we do get a fantastic conclusion to the bold Hebrews.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” - Daniel 3:19-28
The three Israelites bold declaration of faith and integrity paid off, and it did so in such a way that it changed the entire landscape of a country.
Miles’ boldness may very well prove to change the concept of the canon event and how it plays in the multiverse.
What I do know, is that if you live confidently in the knowledge of who God called you to be, and who He is, without conforming to the world around you, that you will in time change the world around you. It may not require pyrotechnics or multiversal travel, but it will be in ways that impact the world you live in, and the Kingdom of God.