Since making her debut back in 2014, Spider-Woman Gwen Stacy, or Spider-Gwen as she’s better known, has been a huge hit. Fans loved the idea of an alternate universe version of Spider-Man’s iconic love interest who got spider-powers instead of him. Her stark white costume in particular really captured people’s attention and quickly became a cosplay favorite. And with Spider-Gwen’s inclusion in the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse animated movie, her popularity looks to only keep growing.
Despite appearances though, Spider-Gwen’s powers are a bit more complicated than they seem. It’s not just a simple one-to-one swap with the Peter Parker we all know and love. The source of Gwen’s powers is not a simple radioactive spider and the odd mutations she’s gone through reflect that. She may share some similarities with Spider-Man, but it’s in the details where they differ. Alternate universes are funny like that.
Spider-Gwen is a lot younger than many comic book heroes, so her powers and body haven’t gone through as many radical changes as others. But she has managed to pack in many odd power-ups and power-downs in her brief career. After going through the comics, we’ve put together this list of Spider-Gwen’s weirder powers, abilities, and mutations ahead of her cinematic debut. To show if nothing else, she isn’t just Spider-Man as a girl.
These are the 20 Strange Things About Spider-Gwen’s Anatomy.
20 Her Powers Come From Alien Spiders
Spider-Gwen’s origin is basically the same as Spider-Man’s. They were both bitten by a special spider that gave them amazing arachnid abilities. However, the spider that bit Gwen was way different than the one that bit Peter. Instead of being radioactive, the spider was the result of genetic engineering based on alien spider-parasites.
It was created by the evil Cindy Moon, the Earth-65 (Spider-Gwen’s universe) version of the superheroine Silk, as a weapon against SHIELD. Cindy had bred many special spiders, one escaped into the wild and bit Gwen. The fact that the spider was of alien origin, sort of, explains the differences between Gwen and Peter’s powers. They’re close, but not the same.
19 She’s Lost Her Powers
What mad science giveth, mad science can take away. Spider-Gwen actually lost her powers at one point thanks to the same person responsible for them, Cindy Moon. During the Spider-Women crossover event, where Gwen and several other spider-ladies teamed up, Spider-Gwen encountered her universe’s evil version of Cindy for the first time.
It was here that Cindy revealed that she had created the spider responsible for Gwen’s powers before injecting her with a formula that got rid of them. Technically, Gwen still hasn’t gotten her powers back either. It’s appropriate in a way, every Spider-Man adaptation does a “Spider-Man No More” story where the hero loses their powers. For a little while at least.
18 Wall-Crawling With Only Her Hands & Feet
Aside from web-slinging, wall-crawling is the most spidery power of Spider-Man. Watching a spider crawl up the wall inspired Stan Lee in the first place. So of course, Spider-Gwen can also crawl walls. But it’s in a more limited fashion than Spider-Man. So far, Gwen can only stick to things with her hands and feet.
That’s a far cry from Peter Parker who can stick to things with his whole body. He even once protected his identity by making his mask stick to his face. Spider-Gwen isn’t at that level yet, but theoretically, she could be. Her and Spider-Man’s wall-crawling ability work the same way, so anything he can do she should be able to.
17 That Time She Switched Bodies With X-23
Both Spider-Gwen and X-23 are popular teenage girl superheroes for Marvel. Doing a story where they team up makes sense. Doing one where they switch bodies is just funny. That’s what happened in All-New Wolverine Annual #1. A villain called the Red Hornet caused the two heroes to switch bodies across universes, so they had to team-up to get back in the right bodies. The humor came from the two’s adjustment.
While X-23 had more trouble at first, she quickly adapted to Gwen’s powers. Gwen, not so much. She accidentally stabbed herself in the head with her own claws. Thank goodness for that mutant healing factor. The kicker was that the body swap was an accident.
16 Venom Didn’t Turn Her Evil
Spider-Man fans know how the Venom goes. The Symbiote attaches to Spider-Man and slowly corrupts him into a more ruthless, aggressive person. When Spider-Gwen decided to do their take on Venom, it seemed like they would do the same.
In her quest for revenge on the Kingpin, it looked the Venom symbiote was making Gwen angrier and more reckless. However, writer Jason LaTour was pulling a twist. The symbiote wasn’t making Gwen act like that, it was the other way around. She was feeding her own negative emotions into the symbiote, which actually scared the organism, and it reflected them back amplified. Learning this, Gwen better mastered her emotions and formed a better bond with Venom.
15 Controlling Tiny Venom Spiders
Spider-Gwen’s Venom symbiote is very different than the regular one. Instead of being made of black goo, it looks more like a colony of hundreds of tiny spiders. Gwen can control these through her bond, using them at first to intimidate criminals by looking she has a swarm of spiders at her command.
Later she found a better use for the tiny Venom spiders, as surveillance drones. Chalk up this change to her universe’s Venom having a new origin. This symbiote was created by mixing together radioactive isotopes based on the alien spiders Gwen got her powers from and the Lizard formula which… turns people into lizards. How combining those makes a Venom, we don’t know.
14 Temporarily Restoring Her Powers
After Cindy Moon depowered her, Spider-Gwen wasn’t totally out of commission. One of Cindy’s henchmen, who Gwen had persuaded to help her, gave her some special radioactive isotopes based on the DNA of the alien spiders her powers derived from. Injecting these isotopes would restore her powers, for a little while at least.
The trouble was that Gwen only had eight of them and had no way to make more. The Kingpin, actually her universe’s version of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, tried using this as leverage to coerce Gwen into joining his criminal syndicate. He could get her more isotopes, but only if she would work for him. Thankfully, she found a more permanent solution.
13 Venom Restored Her Powers
Bonding with the Venom symbiote was what finally restored Gwen’s powers fully. That makes sense given that half of her universe’s symbiote was created from the isotopes giving her those powers back. Not that bonding with the symbiote was something Gwen wanted to do.
It was more a move of desperation. Originally she was only trying to cure her friend Harry Osborn of the Lizard formula, but mixing her isotopes and the formula together created the symbiote. As the most suitable host, it bonded with Gwen and she used her garage band’s music to keep the symbiote tamed. While their relationship was rocky at first, Gwen and the symbiote have reached a mutual understanding.
12 Perfect Balance
Of all of Gwen’s many abilities, her perfect balance isn’t one that comes up very often. Just like Spider-Man, she is able to achieve perfect equilibrium no matter where she’s standing or what position she’s in. It doesn’t matter how small or narrow the space Gwen’s on is either. She positions herself by instinct.
The trailer for Into the Spider-Verse actually showcases this. When Gwen makes her debut, she lands on a tree branch in a perfect ballet en pointe. Perfect balance is probably the most esoterically spidery of spider powers, but it makes sense. Spiders do sit perfectly still in the center of their webs. Besides, have you ever seen one stumble? We didn’t think so.
11 Withstanding Impacts
Given how fragile the average spider is, it’s kind of surprising that Spider-Gwen can take damage as well as she can. But it seems like she’s really good at withstanding huge impacts. Gwen has been punched by super-strong villains, fallen several stories, been dropped out of the sky, and survived a beating from the Punisher.
The genetically engineered spider that gave Gwen her powers is partly responsible for her durability. Among the other things it bestowed on her, the spider’s bite also toughened Gwen’s skin, allowing her bones to be more cushioned and making it harder to injure her in the first place. She’s certainly not impervious to harm, but she’s doing better than most.
10 Superhuman Agility
While she isn’t going to be giving Quicksilver, if he exists in her universe, a run for his money any time soon, Gwen’s speed and agility is nothing to sniff at. In those areas, she exceeds the physical limits of the human body. She’s quick enough to dodge out of the way of energy blasts shot at nearly point blank range.
This is yet another gift from the spider that bit her. Spiders in the real world are capable of similar feats. Some species can leap more than 50 times their own body length in a single jump. For a human, that would be 300 feet. No wonder Gwen is so good at web-swinging her way around town.
9 Faulty Spider-Sense
Spider-Sense is one of Spider-Man’s more useful powers. Getting warned of incoming danger is handy for a superhero. Gwen has a spider-sense too, but hers has proven a bit more erratic. Sometimes, it’s good enough to warn her when ninja stars are about to hit her and her friend, but other times, it’s not as reliable.
Like when it lets Captain America get the drop on her during a fight with the Lizard. Why is Gwen’s spider-sense not as effective as Peter’s? Spider-sense is one of the vaguest powers any of the spider people have. Writers can decide what does or doesn’t set it off on a whim. So who knows?
8 More Than Just Wall-Crawling
How Gwen’s wall-crawling works is actually really complicated. It’s not just as simple as her having microscopic hairs on her fingertips, like in the first Spider-Man movie. Instead, her body can overcome the electrostatic force of an object to let her stick to it.
Think of when you have a balloon charged with static electricity that sticks to your sweater. So far, Gwen can only do this with her own body, and mostly only with her hands and feet. But potentially, she could use this to make other objects stick to each other in the same way. It’s why Marvel has her rated as a “1” in Energy Projection.
7 Superhuman Reflexes
The spider bite that gave Gwen her powers super-charged all her physical abilities, but especially her reflexes. They’ve been estimated to be about 40 times sharper than an ordinary person’s. Her reaction time is quick enough to avoid sneak attacks and ninja throwing stars. Combined with her spider-sense, Gwen can even avoid gunfire.
This is helpful when the Punisher is the one hunting you down. It’s a good thing she can react so quickly too, because Gwen isn’t any kind of trained combatant. She learned all her fighting moves from Kung-Fu movies and doesn’t even know how to throw a proper punch. That’s okay though. Dodging while cracking jokes is more a Spider-Man tactic anyway.
6 She Sometimes Hallucinates Spider-Ham
After banging her head on a pile of garbage the Vulture dropped her into, Gwen began having hallucinations of Peter Porker, the Spider-Ham. In case you were not aware, this a version of the web-slinger from an alternate universe of cartoon animals. Gwen met him during some inter-dimensional traveling.
Anyway, this Spider-Ham is actually her inner thoughts which Gwen sometimes argues with. Her Jiminy Cricket, if you will. Okay, but why Spider-Ham? According to him, it’s because he’s the only version of Peter Parker that doesn’t cause Gwen any guilt. Given that her universe’s Peter Parker died trying to make himself like Spider-Woman, that’s understandable.
5 She’s Radioactive
Her comic wasn’t called The Radioactive Spider-Gwen for nothing. Yes, just like the line from the classic 60s Spider-Man theme song, Gwen has radioactive blood. Not enough to set off any Geiger counters, but enough to give her superpowers. This was yet another result of the genetically engineered spider that bit her and why she needed special isotopes to get her powers back.
Her radioactivity is also key to Gwen’s relationship with the Venom symbiote. It feeds off the radiation in her blood and in turn, helps fuel her powers. They keep each other in check. The symbiote can also amplify this radiation to lethal levels if an unsuitable host tries to bond with it.
4 Lifting 10 Tons
Lifting big heavy things is kind of a prerequisite for superheroes in general, and spider-people specifically. Gwen certainly has the strength to do it. Marvel has officially noted her limit at 10 tons and they’ve shown it. She’s thrown a man into a dumpster one-handed, smashed the Punisher into a car hard enough to dent it, and was able to pull down the ceiling of a sewer.
Though granted, she needed Captain America’s help with the last one, but that’s just her sheer strength. Adding in her wall-crawling stickiness, and Gwen can hold several tons with a single finger from the strength of the hold alone. She wouldn’t even need to put effort into it. That’s all the more impressive considering she’s not some musclebound bruiser.
3 No Organic Webbing
Ever since the release of Sam Ramie’s first Spider-Man, there’s been a debate in fan circles. Should Spider-Man have mechanical web-shooters or organic ones? Well, the Spider-Verse crossover let them explore that question in many alternate universes. In Spider-Gwen’s case, she doesn’t have organic webbing.
But unlike many Spider-people with mechanical web-shooters, hers have unlimited webbing. This is thanks to Janet Van Dyne, the former crimefighter Gwen got them from. Janet developed a formula that collected moisture from the air and turned it into web fluid. Gwen can also shoot the webs out as nets or globs if she wants, not just ropes. Or into gliding wings if she finds herself falling through the air.
2 The Web Of Life And Destiny
Spider-Gwen made her first appearance during the Spider-Verse crossover story, where several different Spider-People from across the multiverse teamed up to save themselves from a cosmic threat. That’s appropriate because that same story revealed that all these characters were connected by more than they knew. Every person with spider-powers is connected to a mystic force called the Web of Life and Destiny.
The Web is just that, a web that connects all the different universes together and which is protected by totemic spider figures. Gwen, Peter Parker, and the others are just some of those protectors. The Web is also the source of spider-sense, and those close to it can even see into the future.
1 No Healing Factor
Gwen and Peter mostly have the same powerset. Peter can take his a little further, but that’s only because he’s had more experience than Gwen. There is one power of Peter’s that she doesn’t seem to have though. A healing factor. It’s nothing on the level of, say, Wolverine, but Spider-Man does have one.
His eyesight improved after getting his powers and he’s recovered from blindness in mere hours. Even third-degree burns only slow him down for a little while. Peter’s immune system is also more resistant to toxins. Why he has this healing factor and Gwen doesn’t is unknown, but the differences in the spiders that bit them seem likely. Then again, Gwen hasn’t been injured enough to need a healing factor yet.
Do you have any other fun facts about Spider-Gwen’s anatomy? Let us know in the comments!