Note: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the final season of Star Wars Rebels.
For the past few months, critics and audiences everywhere have been enthusiastically praising Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and with good reason. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, pushing the boundaries of animation and reinvigorating the superhero genre.
From the amazing soundtrack and outstanding visuals to the inspiring story of how anyone can wear the mask, there’s so much to love about this movie.
I love it for those reasons, but I also love Into the Spider-Verse because certain parts of the story remind me of Star Wars Rebels. While sitting in the theater multiple times, I couldn’t help but see the comparisons between Peter B. Parker and Kanan Jarrus as reluctant teachers and the parallels between Miles Morales’ crush on Gwen Stacy and Ezra Bridger’s crush on Sabine Wren. Little details like that caught my attention and made the movie all the more enjoyable.
Here are 8 similarities between Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Star Wars Rebels that stood out to me.
Fallen on hard times
Peter B. Parker and Kanan Jarrus both had it good. Peter made a name for himself as a hero and married the woman he loved. Kanan grew up in the Jedi Temple and had one of the best Jedi Masters around to train him. Things looked pretty good until they started to fall apart. They both withdrew from society and kept to themselves.
Peter cried to himself in the shower and found comfort in junk food. Kanan jumped around from system to system, drinking, fooling around, and never sticking around long enough to grow any roots. In other words, they weren’t the best role models. When life got rough, they became a shell of the person they used to be.
Kanan manages to get out of his funk when he meets Hera Syndulla—his Mary Jane, if you will. Still, he goes about his business without acknowledging his Force abilities. He’s not the inquisitive, bright-eyed kid he used to be and neither is Peter. Life and the tragic events that came with it molded them into something they’re not.
That is, until a series of events tosses them into brand new territory. The last thing either of them ever expected was to train a kid who shared their abilities.
Mentor and apprentice
Both Miles and Ezra have powers they don’t understand. Like with anything else in life, they need a teacher to show them the ropes. The thing is Miles gets stuck with the “janky, old, broke hobo Spider-Man” and Ezra’s only option is a man who never completed his own training.
Peter and Kanan are far from perfect and it shows, especially through their teaching methods. Miles needs to learn how to swing, so what does Peter do? He pushes him off the edge of a building and says, “Everybody knows the best way to learn is under intense, life-threatening pressure!”
At the same time, Ezra needs to learn how to wield a lightsaber, so what does Kanan do? He pushes Ezra into an intense and life-threatening practicing session without teaching him the basics. Kanan repeatedly tells him to focus, just like Peter is spitting out all of these tips on how to shoot web, “Aim with your hips. Look where you want it to hit. Square your shoulders. Don’t forget to follow through. Don’t shoot off your back foot.”
It’s all too much, too soon. Once Miles stops listening to Peter and focuses, he’s able to swing like a pro. In a way, it’s kind of the opposite for Ezra because not paying attention to Kanan is what gets him and those he cares about into trouble. As the series progresses, however, Ezra gets the hang of his abilities and excels at them, thanks to Kanan’s growth in teaching.
At the end of the day, Miles and Ezra are young, outspoken, and impressionable. They will make mistakes and they will do stupid things. Most importantly, they will get back up when the going gets tough because their mentors taught them that. Peter and Kanan may not be perfect, but they’re the perfect influences in the lives of these young men and vice versa.
What I love most about their relationships is that the learning experience is a two-way street. Miles and Ezra help their teachers grow as people. Miles encourages Peter to realize he isn’t a total loss and that he’s more than ready and capable to raise kids with Mary Jane. Ezra helps Kanan get back onto the path of the Jedi and it results in him being recognized as a Jedi Knight.
Miles and Ezra are two teenage boys embarking on a new journey. Along the way, they meet two young women who are pretty, smart, and way out of their league. To make things more amusing, both boys have no flirting skills whatsoever. Miles miserably fails at the shoulder touch, while Ezra tries too hard to impress Sabine and capture her attention throughout the first two seasons.
Gwen and Sabine are also slightly older in age. They’re more mature, handle things with confidence, and have impressive fighting skills. Most importantly, they both know and accept Miles and Ezra’s extraordinary traits: Miles has Spidey powers and Ezra is Force sensitive. It’s no wonder why Miles and Ezra have heart eyes for them. Gwen and Sabine are the ideal person to be with, since they’ve seen Miles and Ezra at their worst and at their best.
At the end, they all settle on being friends, even though there’s the potential for something more. After all, the best kind of relationship is the one founded on friendship.
Miles and Sabine use art as an outlet, especially when they feel an immense pressure to live up to expectations. Miles’ parents want him to excel at Visions Academy, a school that could provide him with more opportunities. Visions Academy has students wearing uniforms, following strict schedules, and working on tons of homework every evening. Brooklyn Middle has a more casual setting as well as a variety of students from around his neighborhood. Miles feels out of place at his new school and he turns to graffiti art as a means to express himself.
Sabine comes from a strict Mandalorian household and with that comes high expectations. She once told Hera, “You know what happened when I was a cadet at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore. I trusted the Empire, followed its orders blindly, and it was a nightmare.” She left and eventually found herself with the Ghost crew, where she was able to express herself freely on the walls of Hera’s ship.
What’s even more beautiful is how they introduce art to those around them. After things settle down in Into the Spider-Verse, Miles and his dad create a mural in memory of Uncle Aaron. And after Sabine reconciles with her family, she decorates their armor with colors and abstract designs. Art is such a therapeutic activity. It allows us to put our thoughts out there in a productive way and step back to analyze what we just created. There are no expectations when it comes to art, except just being yourself. Miles and Sabine understand that.
Also, while it wasn’t featured heavily in the series, Ezra is also an artist. He spent his younger years on Lothal sketching away at his journal and documented his early Ghost crew experiences with a few drawings, as seen in the Rebels Journal by Ezra Bridger.
While the mentors play an important role in the lives of our heroes, there are also other characters who step in to offer the occasional piece of advice and comforting touch. For Miles, it’s his Uncle Aaron. For Ezra, it’s his Uncle Hondo. Technically, Hondo isn’t his uncle, but he does act like a lovable space uncle when it matters most.
Aaron and Hondo walk that fine line between good guy and not-so-good guy. When he’s working, Aaron disguises himself as the Prowler and does morally questionable things for Wilson Fisk. During his free time, he teaches his nephew the shoulder touch and helps him with his graffiti art.
Hondo is the kind of guy who thinks of himself first. He’s a businessman and tries to figure out how to turn his situations into profit, except for when Ezra needs him. In the series finale, he says, “For that boy, there is nothing I would not do.” The same could be said about Uncle Aaron. He knew his life was at stake when he covered Miles’ face and let him go, but he did it anyway because he would do anything for Miles.
With his final breaths, Uncle Aaron said, “I wanted you to look up to me. I let you down, man, I let you down. You’re the best of all of us, Miles. You’re on your way. Just keep going.” Although Hondo never expresses it in words, his loyalty to Ezra comes across the same way because Ezra represents the best parts of Hondo. Hondo knows and admires this. He also appreciates the friendship he shares with Ezra because Ezra sees the good in him. At the same time, Miles represents the best of Aaron and all of the others out there who veered off their paths in the hopes of making a better life for themselves.
Even though Aaron and Hondo can’t change who they are and what they’ve become over the years, they see a future and a legacy through Miles and Ezra, and they’re willing to protect that at any cost.
Losing loved ones
The road to progress is paved with stories of joy, love, doubt, sadness, anger, and loss. During their individual journeys, Miles and Ezra lose the most important people in their lives. Miles watches his uncle get shot and die in an alleyway. Ezra discovers his parents died in prison. Not only that, but he experiences another heartbreaking loss when Kanan dies.
Moments like this will either make you or break you. For Miles, he needed to hear his dad’s encouraging words, “Look, I know I don’t always do what you need me to do or say what you need me to say, but I see this spark in you. It’s amazing, it’s why I push you. But it’s yours and whatever you choose to do with it, you’ll be great.” After the touching moment between father and son, he can’t just sit around and let others do the job for him. Instead, he summons his powers on command and finds Aunt May to get what he needs.
For Ezra, he had to think back to what Kanan told him before he died, “You’re a good listener, Ezra. It served you here and it will serve you again in the future.” Over the years, he’s learned when to listen and when to apply his training. Like Miles, Ezra can’t just sit around and waste time. He has to listen to the warnings from the Loth-wolves and the Force. In doing so, he knows what he has to do next with the Jedi Temple.
Both Miles and Ezra rise to the occasion. They can’t let their loss define them or break them because if they do, they let the bad guys win and continue to hurt more people.
Moment of truth
It’s the moment of truth. Our main heroes have to act as soon as possible because if they don’t, a black hole could erupt underneath Brooklyn and Lothal City could be wiped off the face of the planet.
But first, Miles wants to know when he’ll be ready to be like Peter and the others. Peter tells him 3 words: leap of faith. That’s all it is. You’re ready when you’re willing to make that jump. Back on Lothal, Kanan found the right moment at the right time when he was needed most. In sacrificing himself, he showed Ezra the way. And in that final realization, Ezra knows what he has to do with 3 words: one last lesson.
They’re simple words, but they carry so much weight and meaning. Both Miles and Ezra are at the highest point of their journey and they both have to make that leap. They both have to let go and put their lives on the line to save everyone else. It’s beautiful and incredibly scary all at the same time because letting go is the hardest part.
I also want to point out how during these leap-of-faith moments, Miles breaks the glass as he lets go and Ezra has glass floating around him when he himself is prepared to let go and let the purrgil take him and Thrawn away. They’re both RISING above their fears in such visually captivating ways.
All good things eventually come to an end. Miles’ new friends can’t stay because they don’t belong in his universe. Ezra can’t stay because he has to see his mission through to the end. They’re all gone in an instant. Slowly but surely, things go back to normal. Miles thrives as a new and young Spider-Man, while Sabine helps rebuild Lothal.
At the end of Into the Spider-Verse, Miles is feeling pretty good about life. He’s on his bed and ready to go to sleep when he suddenly hears Gwen’s voice. A portal opens up above him and you get the impression they get to be together again. Assuming Spider-Man 2099 (from the post-credits scene) gets to Gwen first and introduces his cross-dimensional technology to her, she ultimately uses the technology to reach out to Miles. It’s not Peter or any of the other Spideys reaching out to him. It’s Gwen. She went looking for him.
Sabine plans to do the same. Granted, she won’t be jumping from one reality to another to find Ezra, but there’s no doubt she’ll cross various systems to find him.
There you have it! Two amazing works of animation with brilliant storytelling and captivating characters, and one kooky article bridging them together.
What similarities did you see between Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Star Wars Rebels? What were your thoughts about the movie? Who’s your favorite Spider-Verse character? We want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below.