Why Some “Across the Spider-Verse” Fans Think the Movie’s Gwen Stacy Is Trans
In “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” the sequel’s story moves to the universe inhabited by Gwen Stacy, aka Spider-Woman (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) for the first time. In the original movie, “Into the Spider-Verse,” viewers learn that Gwen (often referred to as Spider-Gwen by fans) was friends with her version of Peter Parker when she was bit by a radioactive spider. She used her new powers to protect Peter but, ultimately, he got jealous and turned himself into the villainous Lizard. Peter died, but Gwen’s dad George Stacy (Shea Whigham) thinks Spider-Woman killed him. Gwen has to keep her identity a secret from him while he leads the hunt to capture Spider-Woman once and for all.
George eventually learns Gwen is Spider-Woman and she flees to another dimension before he can arrest her. When she does return home in the film, she gives him a speech about how she didn’t kill Peter, how Spider-Woman is her real self, and how she had to use her powers for good. They embrace (and George vows to leave the police force).
Gwen’s story is automatically emotional no matter what, but in the days since the movie was released on June 2, it’s gained increasing relevance for LGBTQ+ (and especially trans) “Spider-Verse” fans who see a trans arc in Gwen’s tale. The theory has continued to spread on social media as fans dissect the film.
There are quite a few clues the theory is based on. There’s the plot itself, about being one’s true self and fearing rejection from your family. Gwen essentially has to “come out” to her dad as Spider-Woman. Then there’s the fact that Gwen has a trans flag that says “Protect Trans Kids” on the wall of her bedroom, and she wears a trans pin on her jacket. Plus, her dad even has a trans flag badge on his uniform jacket.
Then there are the colors of Gwen’s world, which are constantly changing throughout her scenes there. “Gwen’s world is like a mood ring,” Steinfeld said in a TikTok posted by Sony on May 26 about what the creative team told her. “It visually will shift with her emotions.” And in the scene where she explains to her dad how she’s Spider-Woman, the colors literally shift to the colors of the trans flag – white, pink, and light blue.
So, is the theory that Gwen is trans true? The creative team did not immediately respond to POPSUGAR’s request for comment on the speculation. In the comics, Gwen is not trans but pretty much every character in the “Spider-Verse” films is remarkably different than their comics counterpart, so that doesn’t really affect the theory either way. As for this version of Gwen’s on-screen future, we’ll see more of her life and journey in “Beyond the Spider-Verse” next year and, possibly, in a “Spider-Woman” spinoff film.
But ultimately, the meaning of any movie or story is in the eye of the people who see it, and it’s a credit to “Across the Spider-Verse” that so many trans and queer fans see their own journeys reflected in Gwen’s. If the theory is true to you, that’s what counts.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is in theaters now.