Actor, writer, producer, director and executive Issa Rae can now add superhero to her resume.
The “Insecure” star and industry multi-hyphenate has joined the cast of the sequel to 2018’s Oscar-winning animated feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” as Jessica Drew, better known as Spider-Woman.
Rae joins returning voice actors Shameik Moore (as main hero Miles Morales) and Hailee Steinfeld (as Gwen Stacy, a.k.a. Spider-Gwen). In April, Variety reported exclusively that Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson will be directing the feature, with producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also credited as writers on the screenplay, along with David Callaham.
Amy Pascal, Avi Arad and Christina Steinberg are also producing, and original “Spider-Verse” director Peter Ramsey is returning as an executive producer, with Lord Miller’s Aditya Sood.
While plot details are a tightly guarded secret, casting Rae as Jessica Drew does open up the possibility of exploring a region of the Marvel comics landscape that’s been virtually ignored in the Marvel feature and TV series adaptations of the last 20 years: Wundagore Mountain.
In the comics, that vaguely Eastern European location — in the fictional country of Transia — is where Jessica grew up as a child, while her parents used the rich veins of uranium found in Wundagore for their various scientific experiments. The radiation, however, poisons poor Jessica, which leads her parents to radically intervene to save her life by, among other things, injecting her with a serum made from, yup, arachnid blood. At one point, Jessica becomes a Hydra agent, before eventually taking on the mantle of Spider-Woman. Whether any of this will make it into the “Spider-Verse” sequel remains to be seen, but the character’s history is certainly rich with the madcap storytelling flourishes that made the first “Spider-Verse” so terrific.
Rae, meanwhile, has not been shy about her love of all things Spidey. “Since the third grade, I’ve loved Spider-Man, comic books, memorabilia, everything,” she told Variety in February.
Rae is currently in production on the fifth and final season of “Insecure.” Robin Thede’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” which Rae executive produces, was just renewed for a third season; the Season 2 finale aired on May 28. Rae is also working on the docuseries “Seen & Heard” for HBO, and for HBO Max, she has the unscripted series “Sweet Life” and the hip hop comedy “Rap Sh*t.” Her production company Hoorae is currently developing “Perfect Strangers” with Spyglass Media.
The “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel is scheduled to debut on Oct. 7, 2022.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported Rae’s casting.