While Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales are stealing the spotlight in the new trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, there’s an Easter egg that goes even deeper into Spidey lore. Early in the trailer, a sketch of a giant robot bears a striking resemblance to Leopardon, the giant Megazord that Japan’s very own “Supaidāman” piloted in Toei’s live-action adaptation from the 1970s.
Early in the trailer, keep your eyes peeled at Miles’ drawings in his bedroom. One sketch of a giant black and yellow robot with a sword, looks uncannily like Leopardon, the war machine that belonged to Takuya Yamashiro (aka “The Emissary from Hell,” Supaidāman).
Confused? Here’s how a big robot fits into Spider-Man lore. In 1979, Toei Company, best known for producing Super Sentai, which later became Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, produced its own official TV adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-Man. Simply titled Spider-Man, the series took big liberties, reinterpreting Peter Parker as Takuya Yamashiro, a motorcross racer who morphs into Spider-Man to combat the Iron Cross Army.
One of Takuya’s biggest weapons (literally) was Leopardon, a robot with a sword that Supaidāman used to make quick work out of Iron Cross minions. Yes, it was real, and yes, it had Marvel’s seal of approval. Stan Lee is a major fan, and it became part of Marvel canon when Takuya appeared in Leopardon during the 2014 crossover, Spider-Verse, which just so happens to be one of the key inspirations for the new film. Leopardon also played a role in Ernest Cline’s 2011 sci-fi novel Ready Player One, which was left out of Steven Spielberg’s film version due to copyright issues.
This uniquely Japanese flavor to Toei’s Spider-Man was made to capitalize on the budding giant robot genre in Japanese kids’ TV. The popularity of Leopardon toys influenced Toei to give the Super Sentai series Battle Fever J (also co-produced by Marvel) their own giant robot. As that particular franchise entered the ‘90s (with even more giant robots), one series, 1992’s Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, became the basis for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
While it’s unlikely Takuya Yamashiro will make his American debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it’s awesome to know the filmmakers are giving a shout-out to a super cool, super obscure hero deep in the Marvel multiverse.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits theaters on December 14.