When deciding on a look for a character in any animation or comic, it isn’t uncommon for the artists to go through many iterations before deciding on the one that they think is perfect. There is usually a ton of rejected art, but we rarely see any. Luckily, Krastafer Anka, the character designer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, shared some rejected designs for the world to see.
It broke many fans’ hearts when Miles Morales’ uncle Aaron Davis (played by Mahershala) died in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It was even more shocking when Miles stepped through the multiverse into Earth-42 and found the version of Aaron Davis, who was there.
The design that they ended up going with was the one that showed Davis with a touch of white in his beard, wearing a grey turtleneck sweater under an oversized black jacket that is lined throughout with brown fur. He also wears pants that combine camo and leather that fit impeccably and tan Timberland-esque boots.
Some of the rejected designs shared elements with the accepted ones but differed from what everyone was looking for, so let’s look at them, shall we?
With this design, we can see that the camo survived, but here it’s in the form of Davis’ sweatshirt, which he is wearing under a denim jacket in this one. Without a lick of white in his beard, he looks a bit younger, helped by the reflective glasses, the jeans and the grey beanie. He still has the boots from the accepted design, but this design wasn’t accepted, probably because he looked too young.
Close to design B, we still see Davis in a camo sweatshirt, but the denim jacket is swapped out for a white one, but the boots, beanie, and reflective glasses stay the same. The only difference is the white jacket and the cargo-style pants.
This is the first rejected design that sports a white stripe in the beard. The grey beanie of the last two designs has been swapped out for a tan one, and the reflective glasses are swapped for a standard circular pair, and the frame matches the tan beanie. Davis is in a plain black long-sleeve tee without a jacket this time.
In this design, Davis has more than just a stripe of white in his beard, as the whole lower part is now white. In this look, he loses the beanie and the glasses, swapping them for camo, tight-fitting pants with a pair of keys hanging off of them, a cosy-looking brown sweatshirt, with a badass padded leather jacket.
Continuing the theme with the impressive leather jacket, this time, it’s hooded, and while the white stripe in the beard is diminished, it’s still there. Under the leather jacket is an off-white mock-neck shirt with a silver chain. We can’t see what kind of pants Davis wears in the design because everything from the waist down isn’t defined.
This design might be one of the favourites of the bunch, besides the one that was accepted. It shares a few elements with the accepted one, including the black jacket lined with fur on the collar. Other than that, the usual green and black camo we have seen in a few other designs has been swapped out for an excellent pop of colour with purple camo. There is also a peek of grey underneath with a T-shirt, and the pants are again undefined.
This design wasn’t chosen because of the purple, which is more reminiscent of The Prowler than our Miles. Of course, as this version of Aaron Davis is from Earth-42, just like the version of Miles that becomes The Prowler, it would make sense if his character design had a touch of purple in it.
Canonically, Miles worked together with his version of Uncle Aaron on becoming the Prowler, so if he is an integral part of that process, the purple would suit him and give a nod to this process. Perhaps it was too much of an Easter egg for the second movie, and we will find out more in the third.
Here we get to see another one of the elements that made it into the final design with the camo and black pants. However, the final design had a lot more detail in the texture of the pants. The tan boots also made it into this one, and this might have been one of the finalists. The mock-neck shirt returns, this time in black, with a tan coat over the top.
This design is stylish, and it’s incredible how the colours are mirrored from top to bottom, with tan on the ends transitioning to black and meeting with the camo in the middle.
These probably weren’t even all of the rejected designs. Still, as an animation lover, it’s incredible to peek behind the curtain and see what happens behind the scenes. While many of these rejected designs could have worked perfectly for the design of Aaron Davis, this selection process gives us an idea of the meticulousness that Sony Pictures goes through when creating an animation masterpiece like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Now imagine what these artists will have to go through for Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse…