WARNING: Major Spoilers!
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has its fair share of fun surprise celebrity cameos and pop-culture Easter eggs, but thankfully one of the movie's biggest twists was (mostly) preserved for the theatrical experience. Now that Into the Spider-Verse is now out, fans are buzzing about one particular moment where a classic Spider-Man villain makes a surprise appearance in the movie. According to the co-director Bob Persichetti, it was a tough moment for them to get into the film - but not for the reason you'd probably guess.
We previously reported on a late-game TV trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that revealed Doctor Octopus was one of the villains who makes an appearance in the movie. What the trailer didn't reveal is how Doc Ock factors into the movie: Into the Spider-Verse introduces the female version of Doctor Octopus (aka "Olivia Octavius") onto the movie screen for the first time, with the villain played by comedic actress Kathryn Hahn (Transparent).
How the movie plays the big twist reveal is by introducing the character as "Olivia" early on, the scientist working on Wilson Fisk's particle collider device, which causes the dimensional rift that brings the Spider-Verse men and women together. When Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and alt-universe Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) try to launch a sneak mission to get components to repair a device to shut down the collider, they are discovered by Olivia, who breaks out of her lab coat to reveal her full evil nature as Doctor Octopus! Doc Ock has an epic chase scene through the woods with Peter and Miles, and is a formidable foe in the later fights between the Spider-Verse heroes and Kingpin's forces.
As Bob Persichetty revealed in an interview with Cinemablend, getting Olivia Octavius to be a part of Into the Spider-Verse wasn't at all easy - because the filmmakers wanted to go with a female version of the character!
"I pitched it, and they were like, 'No.' I will say, it was the one moment where I was like, 'Why are you saying no?'... This is the one time where it took a long time to get certain people to come around, and go, 'Okay, it can be a female'...I think it shockingly became a lot of people's favorite sequence. There's so much good in there, and she brings so much interesting performance to the table."
As it turns out, originally the directors were going to go with the usual male version of Otto Octavius - albeit one who was more like The Dude from Big Lebowski:
"Early on it was a male version... he was probably one of the least developed characters in the first draft of the script. He was kind of inspired by The Dude... There was a really crazy, old version where they came all the way to California."
Just when you think films like Thor: Ragnarok and Ant-Man and the Wasp had made the case for why more superhero movies need female villains, you hear this kind of anecdote and just want to face-palm. Not only was Lady Doc Ock (who has appeared in some version in the comics) one of the better surprises of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it also saved the franchise from a serious moment of redundancy. Without dropping SPOILERS, a different alt-version of Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus gets an epic and emotional story arc in Marvel's Spider-Man video game for PS4, so it's even better that Into the Spider-Verse branched out with its interpretation of the character. We would love to see Olivia Octavius show up again sometime in sequels.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is now in theaters.