This is the Best Spider
With over 250 Spider-People in 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,' that's pretty impressive.
Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'Of all the roughly 250 spider-people present in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the stand-out new addition has to be Pavitr Prabhakar (Karan Soni), otherwise known as Spider-Man India. While not nearly as prominent in the film as Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), or Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), Pavitr Prabhakar makes the absolute most of his limited screentime. Within the span of about twenty to thirty minutes, Spider-Man India practically cements himself as an instant fan favorite.
Miles wants to learn more about Gwen's new job as a member of Spider-Man 2099's multiversal task force, so he follows her through a portal to her next destination. Spider-Gwen's pursuit of the villain known as The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) takes her to Earth 50101. More specifically, The Spot is wreaking havoc in the city of Mumbattan, a visually stunning combination of Mumbai and Manhattan. While Gwen begins to scold Miles, they're joined by Earth 50101's variant of Spider-Man, Pavitr Prabhakar.
As with many of the other major Spider-variants, Pavitr introduces himself by adding a comic book with his face on the cover to the growing pile and offers a quick montage regaling his backstory. As with most other Spider-people, Pavitr was bitten by a radioactive spider and became Mumbattan's one and only Spider-Man, using his powers to fight all manner of crime in his dimension. His crimefighting skills are certainly useful in Mumbattan, as its chaotic streets are crowded with enough people for any criminal to hide in plain sight. Also, unfortunately, Pavitr also points out that racism is something even the multiverse can't escape from, pointing towards a museum where the British appropriated Indian artifacts.
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We also learn quite a bit about Pavitr Prabhakar's personal life, which, unsurprisingly, is fairly similar to that of most renditions of Peter Parker. Like Spider-people across the Spider-Verse, Pavitr has a true love of his own in his beloved Gayatri. Gayatri is closer to Earth 50101's version of Gwen Stacy rather than Mary Jane. That's because Gayatri's father happens to be a law enforcement captain, with this dimension's equivalent of Captain George Stacy being Inspector Singh.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse version of Spider-Man India is superior to his comics counterpart in virtually every way. That's not to say the outfit of the comic Spider-Man India is bad. It's just very similar to that of every other Spider-Man incarnation we've seen, give or take a few minor tweaks and changes. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse gets a lot more creative with Pavitr Prabhakar's design, especially in how it fully embraces the character's Indian identity.
That's especially true with the unique way that Pavitr Prabhakar's slings webs. As most fans of Spider-Man know, Spider-People typically sling webs via mechanical web-shooters (unless you're Tobey Maguire in the original Sam Raimi trilogy, in which case your webs just shoot directly out of your wrists). That standard method of Spider-Man travel is also how Spider-Man India gets around in the comics.
In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Pavitr Prabhakar doesn't just fling webs, but also the gauntlets that they're attached to, creating something more making to a grappling hook. The gauntlets can also be detached from their webbing, acting as a useful projectile against villains and criminals. We even see Pavitr using his gauntlets as a diabolo - a yoyo-like toy that originates from Asia. The change to the way Spider-Man India's gear may seem benign at first, but the result is a fighting and swinging style that is wholly unique from every other Spider-Person in the Spider-Verse.
After The Spot puts countless lives in danger after destroying the Alchemex Base, a key moment is supposed to happen for Pavitr Prabhakar. As Spider-Man 2099 explains later in the film, every Spider-Person has to go through a "canon event", otherwise known as a consistent eventuality that every Spider-Man in every universe must experience. Examples of events like these include the death of an uncle and contact with the Venom symbiote.
Another canon event that creates a major problem for many of our main characters is the death of a captain. Not only does this give Miles and Gwen cause for concern since both of their parents are police captains. Pavitr Prabhakar also has a close captain figure of his own, with his girlfriend's heroic father Inspector Singh. The Inspector is helping people on the collapsing bridge, and the Task Force instructs Gwen not to intervene in saving Singh. Miles doesn't know about these canon events and instead saves the heroic policeman. Pavitr is incredibly grateful for this and now view Miles as a true friend. While Spider-Man 2099 alleges Miles' actions put Earth 50101 in danger, Pavitr has no qualms with joining Spider-Gwen's new team to save Miles from Earth 42.
Some more mature fans may have noticed that Pavitr Prabhakar's voice sounds a bit familiar. That's because Prabhakar's voice actor, Karan Soni, has appeared as an entirely different character in another Marvel universe. That character is Dopinder from the Deadpool films, the cab driver who gets caught up in Wade Wilson's (Ryan Reynolds) violent escapades. Despite being a relatively minor side character in the R-rated Marvel film, Dopinder quickly became a fan-favorite character in the blockbuster franchise.
Due to his popularity, Dopinder was given a much more significant role in Deadpool 2. He's even given something along the lines of a character arc, expressing to Wade Wilson that he wants to become a contract killer. He feels like he lacks meaning and purpose and thinks that becoming a vigilante for hire could be just what he needs to get out of this head space. Wade consistently declines to teach him the ropes, but Dopinder does get his chance at glory by saving Wade and his friends later in the film.
Karan Soni is set to return as Dopinder for Deadpool 3, but it's still great to see him get a chance to be a bonafide superhero, who we'll no doubt see again in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.
Aidan Kelley is a senior resource writer for Collider, as well as an independent filmmaker and lover of all things cinema.Spider-Man: Across the Spider-VerseKaran SoniShameik MooreHailee SteinfeldOscar IsaacJason SchwartzmanRELATED: Tobey MaguireSam RaimiDeadpoolRyan ReynoldsDeadpool 2Deadpool 3Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse