Is Scarlet Spider A Villain? The Identity of Scarlet Spider Explained, Plus Powers, History

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Thanks to teased merchandise for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (the upcoming sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), we now know that Scarlet Spider will be joining Miles Morales and, presumably, other versions of the wall-crawler.

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But who exactly is Scarlet Spider? What is his relation to Peter Parker? Does he have the same powers as Spider-Man? Let’s go get some answers!

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Scarlet Spider’s Origin

Scarlet Spider Origin
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Professor Warren, aka the Jackal, creates the clone Ben Reilly.

Scarlet Spider was a clone of Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man. He was grown in a laboratory by the Jackal (Miles Warren).

The Jackal created the clone to destroy Spider-Man. But the Jackal’s plan ultimately backfired – Scarlet Spider went on to become Spidey’s close ally. Peter even grows to consider his clone as a "brother."

Scarlet Spider Ben Reilly Name
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Scarlet Spider adapts the Ben Reilly name.

To distinguish himself from the real Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider uses a different costume consisting of a red-colored spandex bodysuit and mask, complemented by a blue-colored sleeveless hoodie sweatshirt.

And because he couldn’t use the Peter Parker identity, he decided to use the name Ben Reilly and color his hair blond.

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What are Scarlet Spider’s Powers?

Scarlet Spider Powers
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Scarlet Spider shares Spider-Man's wall-crawling abilities, strength, agility, and stamina.

Because Ben Reilly is a clone of Peter Parker, he shares the same Spider-Man powers, which include wall-crawling capabilities, super strength, speed and agility, and enhanced stamina.

He also possesses the original Spidey’s genius intelligence and Spider-Sense. Because Peter Parker is technically older, he is a more skilled fighter than Ben Reilly. When it comes to scientific knowledge, many consider Ben to be the smarter one, at least in certain fields, since he traveled a lot for five years to enrich his studies.

Is Scarlet Spider Evil?

Scarlet Spider Not Evil
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Scarlet Spider just wants to be like the original web-slinger.

Ben Reilly as Scarlet Spider is not evil. Unfortunately in the comics, another person was forced to transform into an evil version of Scarlet Spider.

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That person was Joe Wade, an FBI Agent. He was captured by Doctor Octopus (the Carolyn Trainer version, NOT Otto) and turned into the evil Scarlet Spider.

Teaming up with the New Warriors, Ben Reilly (he took up the Spider-Man mantle at that time) was able to stop Wade.

Is Scarlet Spider A Clone?

Scarlet Spider Clone
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Scarlet Spider meets another Spidey clone like himself -- Kaine Parker.

Yes, Scarlet Spider, the Ben Reilly version, was a clone of Peter Parker. He first appeared in the comics as a nameless clone of Peter in 1975 and then died shortly after.

But during the second Clone Saga in the mid-1990s, the Jackal grew several Spider-Man clones from his lab. The most notable are Kaine Parker, the Guardian, Spidercide, and of course, a new Ben Reilly.

Ben turned out to be the most successful and genetically stable clone. While other clones exhibited signs of early cellular degeneration (like Kaine, for instance), Ben never did.

Is Scarlet Spider The First Spider-Man?

Scarlet Spider Vs Spider-Man
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Spidey vs Spidey: Peter Parker battles Ben Reilly while the Jackal watches.

No, Scarlet Spider is not the first Spider-Man, but he once thought he was. Allow us to explain.

Grown in a lab, Ben has been imprinted with Peter’s memories, so he believed all along he was the original Peter. He even fought the real Spider-Man when the two met, thinking that the other guy was an impostor.

In their battle, Ben seemingly died from a bomb blast. Peter then buried Ben’s “dead” body inside a smokestack. Ben then woke up later, fully alive. But alas, the Jackal put another already-dead Peter clone in that same smokestack, confusing Peter.

Scarlet Spider Exile
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Ben Reilly exiles himself.
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Ben would go on to exile himself from New York City in the next five years. He borrowed Uncle Ben’s name and the maiden name of Aunt May to adapt the Ben Reilly persona.

He would return to New York half a decade later after hearing Aunt May got sick. From then on, he would fight bad guys as Scarlet Spider.

It must be mentioned that during the second Clone Saga, it was never made clear to both Peter and Ben (and the readers) who the original was, thanks to villainous schemes from more than one Spidey baddie.

Scarlet Spider Death
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Ben Reilly disintegrates as he dies.

But during a later Peter-vs-Norman Osborn battle, Ben sacrificed himself to save Peter. After drawing his last breath, Ben disintegrated, proving once and for all that he was the clone.

Like Jean Grey, Scarlet Spider would go through several resurrections in the comics. Well, that’s one advantage of being a clone – you can just be re-cloned to infinity and beyond.

Is Scarlet Spider An Alternate Universe Spider-Man?

Spider-Gwen Miles Morales
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Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales hangin' out.

No, Scarlet Spider is not an alternate universe Spider-Man. Technically speaking, he lives in the same universe as Peter Parker, which Marvel refers to officially as Earth-616.

To give a few examples of alternate universe Peter Parkers, you have Spider-Man Noir (from Earth-90214), Zombie Spider-Man (Earth-2149), and Savage Spider-Man (Earth-83043). As for examples of alternate dimension Spider-Men who are not Peter Parkers, you got popular characters like Miles Morales (Earth-1610) and Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider (Earth-65).

Is Scarlet Spider Venom?

Scarlet Spider Venom
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Scarlet Spider meets Venom.

No, Scarlet Spider is most definitely not Venom. The Venom Symbiote did bond with the original Peter Parker, before transferring to Eddie Brock.

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We can offer an interesting factoid, however. Unlike Peter Parker, Ben Reilly can sense Venom via his Spider-Sense. Because he never became a host of the symbiote, his Spider-Sense sees the alien as a threat. With Peter, his Spider-Sense senses the symbiote as himself because of their shared identity history.

Is Scarlet Spider Carnage?

Scarlet Spider Carnage
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The Carnage symbiote takes a liking to Ben Reilly.

Yes, for a short time, Ben Reilly did become Carnage or at least another version of the iconic villain.

When the Carnage symbiote had bonded with Ben, he turned into Spider-Carnage, but, thankfully, didn’t turn murderous.

He kept himself under control long enough to get rid of the symbiote, which eventually returned to its original host, the killer Cletus Kasady.

Scarlet Spider Spider-Verse
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Scarlet Spider is set to appear in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is slated for release in 2023. Some of the cast of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will be coming back, including Shameik Moore (who voices Miles Morales), Hailee Steinfeld (Spider-Gwen), and Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker).