Within the world of Marvel comics, few characters have as many versions as Spider-Man. The most recent imagining sticking in the minds of fans, and earning a standalone series, is that of Spider-Gwen. She is the spider-themed superhero of Earth-65, and an alternate version of Gwen Stacy. In this reality, it's Gwen who gets bitten by a genetically engineered spider and becomes a superhero.
First and foremost, the fact that Gwen is alive in this reality was enough to draw readers in. As one of the most famously fridged characters in pop culture, Spider-Gwen gives Gwen Stacy a chance to reach her full potential as a character. Giving her spider powers on top of that makes for a completely new hero that fans were already rooting for. Also, for fans of Spider-Man, she does deliver.
In most ways, Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man are equals-- both received superhuman strength, agility, and heightened senses. They even have the same sense of sarcasm and wit. However, there are a handful of things that Spider-Gwen can do, but Spider-Man cannot. This list won't argue that one is better than the other, instead, it will simply point out differences displayed in both the comics and television.
Here are the 15 Things Spider-Gwen Can Do That Spider-Man Can't.
Within Marvel comics, there have been several versions of Spider-Man. Spider-Gwen is just the latest in the family. These versions mostly existed in their own dimensions, at least until Spider-Verse came out in 2014.
The arc brought together all versions of Spider-Man to fight Morlun and the Inheritors. At the end of the day, each Spidey went home, but the groundwork for potential future crossovers was laid.
For Spider-Gwen, a crossover is much easier, as she can travel across dimensions as she pleases. This comes thanks to a wristwatch-sized device that accesses an alternate reality gateway as needed. Though the device was later stolen by Cindy Moon of Earth-65, it proved useful for Spider-Gwen and her companions.
In terms of gadgets, Spider-Man has incredible tools, but never something to make dimensional travel so easy.
In earlier Spider-Man stories, a utility belt was a staple of the costume. With it, Peter is able to store Spider-Tracers, a Spider Signal and, most importantly, his extra web fluid cartridges. Later, he even added a camera in order to take pictures of himself as Spider-Man. The belt was never particularly cumbersome, and usually helped him during a tight spot in battle.
However, Spider-Gwen managed to downsize a bit. Instead of a utility belt, she typically relies on her smartphone for all of her super tools. In Spider-Gwen, vol. 2, it's made clear that the phone "contains her entire life."
The lack of a utility belt has proven successful for both Gwen, as well as for her writers. Spider-Gwen's costume is widely considered one of the best in the Spider-Verse, and has quickly become a popular cosplay.
In not having a utility belt, Spider-Gwen had nowhere to store extra web cartridges. Of course, that didn't really matter, because she didn't need them. Spider-Gwen's web shooters are structurally different than Spider-Man's, and thus don't require pre-made web solution.
The shooters, created and given by Janet Van Dyne, used moisture from the air to create webs as needed. So, provided that she isn't in a completely arid setting, Spider-Gwen has unlimited webbing at her disposal.
Sam Raimi highlighted the advantages of unlimited webbing in his Spider-Man trilogy, beginning in 2002. The technology in Spider-Gwen's web shooters made for one less potential weakness to worry about.
Though it isn't often shown, there are a few occasions where Spider-Man runs out of webbing mid-battle. One particularly poorly times instance came when Spider-Man took on the Juggernaut.
Most of Spider-Gwen's fighting knowledge comes from what she saw in kung-fu movies. She was never formally trained in any style, and therefore improvises through most of her battles.
When Peter Parker first became Spider-Man, he had a similar approach. He was considered one of the greatest fighters in the Marvel Universe, given an extra edge with his spider sense. However, he did go on to receive combat training from Captain America. Spider-Man also sought out training from Shang-Chi during the Spider Island story arc.
Like Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen is considered one of the best fighters in the Marvel Universe, being able to use her spider senses and superhuman strength to her advantage. Despite not having any training, she's able to defeat some of the biggest Spider-Verse villains, including an assassin hired to take out George Stacy.
As part of being able to do "whatever a spider can," most Spider-themed characters are incredibly quick and strong. Spider-Man is able to perform incredible acrobatic feats, leaping and swinging through the city. In physical aspects, Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen are almost evenly matched.
Perhaps the only area where Spider-Gwen has an advantage is in agility. Because she has a more slender, lighter frame, she can count on her body to take her a bit further than Spider-Man could. During her appearance in DisneyXD's animated series, it was Spider-Gwen who handled the most extensive acrobatics.
The difference in agility has never impeded either crime-fighting style, and makes little difference in the grand scheme of things, but in short term situations, Spider-Gwen can hesitate a bit less.
In just about every re-telling of Spider-Man's story, his powers are given to him after being bitten by a radioactive spider. In the comics, the same thing happens to Gwen Stacy in Earth-65. However, in DisneyXD's animated series, her spider origin story is flipped on its head a bit.
This imagining sees Spider-Gwen creating the illusion of most of her powers. As a native of Miles Morales' dimension, Gwen Stacy took over the spider mantle after Miles was transported to Peter Parker's dimension. Then, stealing technology from her father's robot program and teaming with Aunt May, Gwen managed to simulate her spider powers, without actually having any.
She uses magnetic grips in her gloves and boots to accomplish wall-crawling, as well as digital sensors in her mask to simulate having spider-sense.
After Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, and discovered his new powers, he had to start from scratch. He made his own costume, he honed his spider sense, and created his web shooters and fluid. He had to figure out what he needed on his own, and usually had to figure out how to make everything, and thus discover how to be a superhero.
On Earth-65, Gwen Stacy has much less of a blind start. After discovering her powers, Gwen is given her web shooters by Janet Van Dyne – formerly known as The Wasp. In this reality, Van Dyne was the creator of the web technology, as well as Spider-Gwen's costume.
Gwen didn't hesitate to start showing off her gifts, and spent most of her early adventures focusing on being in the spotlight, helping people mostly just to get attention.
Not only did Peter Parker have to create his own gadgets, he also had to craft his own persona and learn/earn his place in the world. There was no one to mentor him, like Captain America did for Bucky or Batman for Robin. His only mentor was his Uncle Ben, and Peter learned the hard way that "with great power there must also come great responsibility."
In Spider-Gwen's world, she had some help getting started. Janet Van Dyne provided Gwen with her costume and web shooters, having already retired as The Wasp. Though Spider-Gwen didn't take full advantage of the knowledge she could access with Janet, she at least had the option to take on a mentor. Even so, taking the technology did give Gwen a leg up in joining the super world.
In most imaginings of Gwen Stacy, she excels in science and academics. She and Peter tend to bond over their shared intellects, which lends to a sweet moment in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where the two magnetize Peter's web shooters.
However, in Earth-65, Gwen is more artistic than scientific. She plays drums as part of an all-female rock band called The Mary Janes (indeed led by Mary Jane Watson). In this timeline, Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker bond over their shared love of music, but Peter doesn't actually play the drums in any iteration of him.
Gwen's participation in the band is the tether of what keeps her grounded in her normal life, even as Spider-Gwen. Giving her an actual hobby has made Gwen relatable for fans, and given the Spider-Verse a literal rockstar.
Like DC's Superman, Peter Parker took a job at the paper, but not to keep an ear out for what was happening in the city. As Spider-Man, Peter more often relied on his scientific mind, along with simply patrolling the city. With the occasional help of his world's Gwen Stacy, he is able to solve problems as he goes along.
In the world of Spider-Gwen, Gwen Stacy was more of a creative type. She excelled in music and graffiti, rather than science. However, even in Earth-65, Gwen's father is still George Stacy, Police Captain. As a result, she picks up on several of his techniques from work, along with the lessons he instilled in her since birth.
Gwen ends up being a skilled detective, able to use her knowledge and police expertise to help her fight crime.
At some point, almost every superhero has to reveal who they really are. More often than not, owning up to their true identity doesn't happen by choice. Such is the case for Spider-Gwen. However, even though it is forced, it ends up working in her favor.
One disadvantage Spider-Gwen faces over Spider-Man is that her father is a police captain. George Stacy is in charge of running the NYPD investigation to capture Spider-Woman. Matt Murdock, who in this reality is right hand to the Kingpin, catches wind of this and sebds hitman Aleksei Sytsevich to kill George, hoping to make an ally of Spider-Gwen.
Though Gwen overtaks Sytsevich, she ends up being held at gunpoint by her father, and is forced to reveal herself. In the short term, this reveal proves problematic, but long term, she is able to use her father's knowledge and pull to her advantage.
Part of keeping a secret identity, well, secret, means being virtually unable to pick the brains of those around you. As Spider-Man, Peter Parker had to hide a lot from Aunt May, which created some tense moments, and meant he couldn't get her help. Granted, in the original stories, Aunt May was depicted as fragile and weak; she likely wouldn't have been heavily involved in his work even if he had told her his secret.
In Spider-Gwen's storyline, though, several popular characters known from Spider-Man's story are different. Mary Jane is an unlikable diva, Matt Murdock is a villain, and Peter Parker himself (spoilers) dies. In DisneyXD's animated Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man series, even Aunt May is different. When DisneyXD introduced Spider-Gwen, it was also revealed that she works closely with Aunt May.
The revelation shocks Peter, and amazes fans, knowing he could never do the same.
Since the very first introduction of Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy has existed as a romantic interest for Peter Parker, who later becomes his life shattering motivation when she's killed. This was part of what made Spider-Gwen's series so appealing to fans; readers were ready to see how far Gwen Stacy could go.
On Earth-65, the script is flipped, making Peter the heartbreaking motivation for Gwen. In fact, Spider-Gwen is the driving factor behind Peter becoming a villain. In an effort to "be special" like Gwen, Peter creates and injects himself with a serum that turns him into the Lizard. The two end up in battle and, like the original Spider-Man comics, Peter dies in Gwen's arms.
However, in this world, Peter Parker and Gwen were just friends. His death resonates because she could have helped him by just being there for him, not because a romance put him in harm's way.
In Spider-Man's origin story, it is just a genetically enhanced spider that gives him his abilities. It's never revealed that the spider targeted Peter (or Miles), instead, it is just viewed an odd turn of fate. The same is initially thought of Spider-Gwen. However, in the Spider-Women crossover event, it's revealed that Earth-65 Cindy Moon is actually directly responsible for giving Gwen her powers.
On Earth-65, the spider that turned Cindy Moon into Silk on Earth-616 was killed by a newspaper. After this, Cindy's life headed downhill until S.H.I.E.L.D. recruited her. There, she started researching spiders and cured Jesse Drew after his radiation poisoning.
Eventually, they both rebel against S.H.I.E.L.D., forming S.I.L.K., and fight Captain America. This leads Cindy to release that one of the spiders she had developed escaped into the wild. The loose spider then made it its way to Gwen Stacy and bit her.
Spider-Gwen could face Cindy head on, which is a scenario that would never present itself for Spider-Man.
In this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming, all Peter Parker wanted was to become an Avenger. The arc mirrored Spider-Man's early goals in the comics. He consistently worked to prove himself to the Avengers, often serving as a reserve member of the team (much like in Captain America: Civil War). When he wasn't trying to prove himself, he often had to worry about getting disciplined by the Avengers.
On Earth-65, the Avengers were never actually formed. Captain America is a woman named Samantha Wilson, Peggy Carter runs S.H.I.E.L.D. (eyepatch and all) and Iron Man doesn't exist. Spider-Gwen doesn't have to consistently try to live up to Earth's mightiest heroes, or worry about the Sokovia Accords.
Aside from her introduction in the Spider-Verse crossover, Spider-Gwen mostly works independently.
Can you think of any other abilities or talents that Spider-Gewn has that Spider-Man doesn't? Let us know in the comment section!