Suit up, Spider-Heads: the Emissary of Hell is here, and he means business.
We might have only just learned last week that the Spider-Verse sequel has an official release date, but now producer Phil Lord may have already given our first bit of news about the heroes we can expect to see when Miles Morales ventures out into the multiverse once more. Replying to a tweet from a fan about the likelihood of Toei’s live-action Spider-Man being in the film, Lord simply said that the character has already been designed for an appearance in the sequel:
— Phil Lord (@philiplord) November 5, 2019
For those unfamiliar, Japanese Spider-Man—sometimes known as Supaidaman—was the version of our webslinging hero created for Toei’s 1978 live-action Tokusatsu series. Born out of a licensing deal between Stan Lee and Toei, the series was originally going to involve Lee and Marvel co-funding and eventually adapting several seasons of Toei’s iconic Sentai franchise for the West in exchange.
While that never happened—leaving it till the ‘90s for the series to be turned into Power Rangers by Saban—it did give us instead an entirely new take on Spider-Man: Takuya Yamashiro of Earth-51778.
A young motorcyclist who encounters an alien from the Planet Spider, Takuya is granted both the superpowers of his Western comics counterpart as well as an honest to god giant robot named Leopardon to battle Professor Monster and his villainous Iron Cross Army.
Spider-Man may have run for just a single season, but its influence is wide-reaching in a particularly weird way: Leopardon built the groundworks for Toei’s Sentai shows to use giant robots of their own, becoming Super Sentai in the process. Basically, without Spider-Man, the Megazord as you know it today wouldn’t exist.
Now, to clarify, Lord simply said that that Takuya has been designed for the sequel—that doesn’t necessarily mean he makes the final cut. Or that, even if he does, it’ll be in a role on a similar level to the alternate Spider-heroes of the first movie. It could be a cameo, he could be as vital as they were, hell, he could come crashing in through realities of the multiverse just to smash whatever the film’s villain is in the face with Leopardon (Peni does need someone to talk mecha design with, after all). We don’t know.
But it would make sense for him to make the swing over to Spider-Verse 2. Takuya might be a weird obscurity in the long history of Spider-Man adaptations, but he’s had a bit of a resurgence in popularity in recent years, mostly thanks to Marvel Comics including him in the original 2014 event series that loosely inspired Into the Spider-Verse in the first place, Spider-Verse.
Since then, he’s made a few more appearances in the comics, including the spiritual sequel event Spider-Geddon, letting him live on a a bit more than just a quirky bit of spider-trivia.
It’s also not going to stop us from gesticulating wildly about one of the greatest, goofiest, and surprisingly most influential takes on Spider-Man in the webhead’s entire, weird history, and speculating how he’ll fit into Into the Spider-Verse 2. If each Spider-hero in Spider-Verse takes on animation styles and techniques from their own Earths, what does that mean for an explicitly live-action hero like Takuya?
Peni already acts as a riff on traditionally overstylized manga and anime aesthetics. Could Takuya somehow attempt to recreate an old school, ‘70s-era TV aesthetic in 3D animation? Will there be dramatic posing and background pyrotechnics for seemingly little reason? Could he just sort of move and animate like he’s a stunt guy in a suit? Could that be how Leopardon animates, less like a mech, more like someone in a bulky costume? Because, c’mon. You don’t bring Takuya over without bringing Leopardon.
We’ve got a very long time to speculate: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 will hit theatres April 8, 2022.