The home video release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – out today on Digital and March 19 on physical media – includes a special feature called “Alternate Universe Mode” which is an extended cut of the film featuring alternate scenes, deleted storylines, additional characters (like Ganke!), and more. One of the more interesting alternate sequences involves Miles Morales training to become Spider-Man…by watching a Spider-Man movie.

Sitting down with filmmakers Rodney Rothman, Bob Persichetti and Pete Ramsey, I learned about this original subplot. Instead of Miles learning about how to be Spider-Man from an old comic book, he originally learned how to become the webslinger from an audio commentary featuring Tom Cruise and James Cameron.

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Rodney Rothman: There’s a lot of stuff that we took out of the movie for good reasons, but that give you a window into the creative process behind the years that were spent on the movie. So an example of stuff they are talking about… There’s a line from Doc Ock that’s a very direct reference to Doc Ock’s most famous line in Spider-Man 2. Is the Tom Cruise stuff in the alternate universe version? So there was a whole period of time where Miles, rather than learning about being Spider-man from a comic book, learned it from watching the films. There was a movie version of a movie about Spider-Man in Miles’ universe about the real person Spider-Man, but it was a James Cameron-directed movie with Tom Cruise as Spidey. Yes. Spidey. And it was James Cameron and Spidey and Tom Cruise on the audio.

Peter Ramsey: Yeah, it was literally the director’s commentary with guest star, Tom Cruise

Rodney Rothman: And guest star real Spider-Man.

Peter Ramsey: He was the technical advisor on the movie.

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For those of you who don’t know, James Cameron was originally developing a movie version of Spider-Man in the mid-’90s before Sam Raimi came on board. Cameron’s 47-page scriptment (part script, part treatment) has been online for years. Many people at the time speculated that Leonardo Dicaprio would be Cameron’s Peter Parker and that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be Doctor Octopus. Tom Cruise was in line to star as Peter Parker in the late ’80s when Cannon Films was developing a big screen adaptation of the comic book. It would have been a fun reference for hardcore fans, but as the filmmakers note, the concept as a whole was a bit much to explain to general audiences.

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Rodney Rothman: And the fact that it’s taken us almost three minutes to explain this idea to you, it gives you an idea of why it didn’t make it in.

Bob Persichetti: But oh my God, it was fun to do.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is out today on Digital, and will be available on physical media on March 19 2019.

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