Why Is That One Character From ‘Spider-Man’ the Same in Every Universe? (2024)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is full of surprise cameos and meta references, but one appearance of a Spider-Man movie veteran may have escaped your notice. A few different times in the film, we hear the familiar voice of J. Jonah Jameson, voiced by none other than J. K. Simmons, who first played the role back in 2002's Spider-Man. Notably, every iteration of Jameson heard in the film is voiced by Simmons, unlike characters such as Peter Parker, whose different variations are voiced by multiple different actors. Across the Spider-Verse features Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), the Peter Parker of Earth-65 (Jack Quaid), LEGO Spider-Man (Nic Novicki), Spectacular Spider-Man (Josh Keaton), and the Spider-Man from the PlayStation 4 video game (Yuri Lowenthal) — and there's even more if you count the ones that appeared in its predecessor, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But Jameson seems ready to defy this trend, seemingly being the only character universally voiced by the same actor.

RELATED:Why Spider-Man Works Best In Animation

Who Is J. Jonah Jameson?

Why Is That One Character From ‘Spider-Man’ the Same in Every Universe? (1)

One of Spider-Man's strengths as a character is his iconic supporting cast. J. Jonah Jameson has been a part of that cast since the beginning, first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 in 1963. Jameson is the editor-in-chief and owner of the Daily Bugle, typically filling the role of Peter Parker’s belligerent boss. Jameson is one of the main forces out to discredit and vilify Spider-Man, using the photos he buys from Peter to publish vitriolic screeds against the wall-crawler. He's usually rude and disrespectful toward his employees, especially those who try to challenge him on his belief that Spider-Man is a menace. Jameson was originally conceived of as a heightened, grumpier version of Stan Lee by the man himself, and has been a mainstay in Spider-Man stories ever since.

Over the years, Jameson's exact role in the comics has varied. Sometimes he's veered toward being a full villain, hiring scientists to make robots designed to destroy Spider-Man and funding the creation of the supervillain known as Scorpion. But in a more recent story, Peter willingly revealed his identity to Jameson, who has since endeavored to be more supportive of Spider-Man and his efforts to protect New York City. Ultimately, Jameson is typically characterized as a man who at his core is decent and tries to do what’s right, but is often overcome by his more shallow and belligerent tendencies.

J.K. Simmons' Performance as J. Jonah Jameson in 'Spider-Man' Became Instantly Iconic

Why Is That One Character From ‘Spider-Man’ the Same in Every Universe? (2)

J. K. Simmons first portrayed J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, and from the very first movie, his performance was iconic. Simmons perfectly captured everything everyone loved about the character from the comics, from his somehow endearing belligerence toward the staff of the Daily Bugle to his absurd fixation on Spider-Man to his deeply buried sense of integrity. As much as the audience is meant to root for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), it's impossible not to find Simmons' over-the-top performance incredibly fun to watch. Every moment he's on-screen is a delight, from him calling all of Peter’s pictures "crap" to him risking his life by refusing to give Peter up to the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe). Simmons captures the absurdity of the character as well as his humanity. While the later movies give him fewer obvious opportunities to portray Jameson's good side, it still sneaks through between all the cursing Spider-Man's name and being electrically shocked by his secretary to get him to calm down.

So immediately iconic was this portrayal that the subsequent Amazing Spider-Man films didn't even bother to bring in a new on-screen interpretation of the character. This was for the best, as any new actor trying their hand at the part would've had the nearly impossible task of following up one of the most beloved parts of the Raimi trilogy — a comparison the AmazingSpider-Man films were already struggling to overcome. By the time Sony pulled the plug on The Amazing Spider-Man and its many proposed spinoffs, we'd never even come close to seeing a different live-action take on the character. This trend continued with Spider-Man's start in the MCU, with Jameson being completely absent from Spider-Man: Homecoming. It seemed as though we might not see Jameson return to the big screen for a long time, even though Simmons had expressed interest in returning for the Amazing Spider-Man films.

Most of the J. Jonah Jamesons of the Multiverse Are Played by J.K. Simmons

Why Is That One Character From ‘Spider-Man’ the Same in Every Universe? (3)

For most viewers, the shocking final moments of Spider-Man: Far From Home was the first time they'd seen Simmons in the role of J. Jonah Jameson since the Raimi films. His subsequent appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home was overshadowed by other returning actors, but unlike the previous Spider-Men and their villains, this Jameson wasn't pulled out of a different universe, but was instead the MCU's definitive take on the character. Reinvented as a conspiracy theorist anchor of a faux news site, this Jameson is decidedly less complex than the version we met in the Raimi trilogy and is purely defined by his hatred of Spider-Man. But it is still Simmons, cementing him as the only live-action J. Jonah Jameson.

While Far From Home was Simmons' first live-action appearance as Jameson since 2007, it wasn't his first time returning to the character. He voiced Jameson in Disney XD's animated MARVEL shows from 2012 to 2015, including a handful of alternate universe versions of the character in the finale of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. And now he's back in the booth yet again, voicing the various Jamesons of Across the Spider-Verse — and not just one, but all of them. For a movie so fascinated with the infinite possibilities of the multiverse, this choice stands out. Despite the wild variations of Spider-People across the multiverse, there is one constant: J. Jonah Jameson hates Spider-Man, and he's voiced by J. K. Simmons.

When it came time to bring J. Jonah Jameson into the MCU, Simmons was the only choice. Far From Home's director Jon Watts told Collider: "That was always the plan because we knew that we wanted to reveal Peter's identity . . . And it was always going to be him (Simmons)." While other actors have and continue to voice the character across television and games (for example, Darin De Paul voices Jameson in Insomniac Games' ongoing Spider-Man series), no one else has brought the character to life on the big screen, and it seems like it's going to stay that way. Much like the late Kevin Conroy was synonymous with Batman for many fans, Simmons has become the definitive face of Jameson across the multiverse. So much so that not even the very, very creative folks behind Across the Spider-Verse seemed to think they could do better.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is playing in theaters.

Read More About ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’

  • ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Review: This May Be the Greatest Superhero Movie Series Yet

  • ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Cast and Character Guide

  • Movie Features
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)

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Why Is That One Character From ‘Spider-Man’ the Same in Every Universe? (2024)


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