FandomWire‘s latest Video Essay explains how Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 perfected Peter Parker.
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Spider-Man PS4 Perfected Peter Parker
In 2018, Insomniac Games and PlayStation released Marvel’s Spider-Man, an original story set within the Marvel Universe. This is the first original Spider-Man game since Edge of Time in 2011 and features Peter Parker as a 23-year-old who has been Spider-Man for eight years. From the incredible traversal mechanics to the combat system and exploring New York City, the game became a hit among fans leading to the Miles Morales-led spinoff and the upcoming Spider-Man 2 next year which features both Spider-Men alongside the villains of Venom and Kraven the Hunter. In a world where a new interpretation of Spider-Man seems to be released every few years, one interpretation stands out among the greats. Marvel’s Spider-Man introduced fans to a Peter Parker that takes everything great about every past adaptation and puts it all together. Set in a world where Norman Osborn is the mayor and the Kingpin was recently jailed, we see Peter Parker in a major change in his life. From his villainous connections, his tenure as Spider-Man, and his personal life, Insomniac Games perfected Peter Parker in their Marvel Universe.
This clip at the end of the game is after a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. While it’s treated as the defeat of Doc Ock the fight means more than that. Throughout the entire story, Peter Parker works alongside Otto Octavius in order to create neurotechnology and prosthetics. We see just how much they view each other from audio logs by Otto and how Peter talks about Otto as his mentor. Despite this relationship appearing as just a boss and his employee, it instead feels like a father and son relationship, with Otto genuinely caring about Peter to where he suggests Peter leave the company in order to protect him. The personal life of Peter Parker has never been more prevalent than in this video game. Instead of seeing the upbringing of the relationship between Peter and MJ, we instead witness everything after the downfall. Aunt May also appears as more than just a side character or motivation for Peter. She is crucial to the story due to her relationship with Martin Li which is something we’ve never seen in any adaptation of Spider-Man. The other villains within the game include Kingpin, Electro, Vulture, Rhino, Scorpion, Tombstone, Hammerhead, Screwball, and Black Cat. Majority of these villains have more of a connection to Spider-Man except for Black Cat who we learn more about within The Heist DLC.
Before diving into characters like Mister Negative and Doc Ock, the first character to look at is Black Cat, as her connection to Peter Parker exists before the others. While there isn’t a confirmed time that Peter and MJ broke up, it is implied to be several years before the events of the game and during that time we learn that Peter had been dating Black Cat. While the exact specifics of their relationship isn’t fully mentioned, it’s clear the relationship was long-lasting given Black Cat’s claims that she has a kid which is Peter’s. While this later proves to be false, it’s confirmed that it could very well be Peter’s, which gives the player enough information to know about this relationship.
Martin Li aka Mister Negative has more of a connection to Aunt May rather than Peter Parker. In this game’s universe, Li and May created FEAST together, and Li is known throughout New York for being a caring man wanting to change the world for the better. Martin’s exact reasons for becoming a villain is his hatred against Norman Osborn, who tested on him when he was a kid and led to the deaths of his parents. The theme of revenge against Osborn is consistent with Otto as well as both of the main villains solely wanting to hurt Osborn. We see this with Li when he makes a comment about guaranteeing May and Peter’s safety. His methods are vile and would lead to millions of deaths, but his exact desire was to never hurt others. Li exists as two separate characters, fully embracing the Dr. Jekyll archetype of good and evil. This concept makes Peter not want to hurt Li given he is literally not the man he once was. The entire history of Peter and Li isn’t known, but the player can learn pieces of it throughout from interactions with Aunt May, including a line that discusses how Li sees a lot of himself in Peter.
In terms of villainous connections for Peter, none of the villains are as important as Otto Octavius. When Peter Parker graduated from Empire State University, he got a job working at Octavius Industries rather than going to Oscorp. Otto and Peter quickly become close friends, with a father-and-son relationship between the two. The two work to develop advanced prosthetics due to Otto’s chronic disease. While Otto becomes aware that Peter is in fact, Spider-Man, he continues to protect his identity, given his respect for everything Peter does for the city. Outside of Otto encouraging Peter to find another job after their lab gets shut down, it’s clear Otto genuinely cares for Peter during the Raft breakout, where a tear forms in Doc Ock’s eye after seeing the greatly injured Spider-Man.
Something similar is also shown in the final fight, where Otto pleads with Peter that Norman is the true villain and they need to work together. Despite part of this plea being that Doc Ock is trying to blackmail Peter, there were still parts of Otto that were left in Doc Ock that truly cared for Peter Parker. Insomniac was well aware that fans would quickly realize that Otto was going to become Doc Ock in the game, so instead, they make Otto have such a strong connection to Peter that the player doesn’t want to see the downfall of Octavius.
The history of Spider-Man within this universe is one that takes aspects not just from the three live-action versions but from the comics as well. Within this universe, there are countless references to other heroes, including Doctor Strange, Black Panther, The Inhumans, Daredevil, the West Coast Avengers, and many more all exist within this universe with Spider-Man having connections to a few of them, specifically Daredevil, who offered to be Spider-Man’s lawyer. There’s also references to little things Spider-Man did, such as saving a kid’s balloon or stopping a train. This interpretation of Spider-Man is one that fully embraces the friendly neighborhood name he has in the comics. Since 2016, the version of Spider-Man we have seen is one that relied on tech from Tony Stark and has gone to space to fight Thanos where it wasn’t until last year that Spider-Man in the MCU has finally become more comic-accurate and grounded. This adaptation of the character is one who has spent his time in New York solely as he stops random muggings and car chases just to protect as many people as he can.
Given that this game starts when Peter has been Spider-Man for eight years, he has already had a large rogues gallery. The Lizard, Vulture, Mysterio, Rhino, Shocker, Electro, Tombstone, Kingpin, Scorpion, Sandman, Screwball, and Chameleon are just a few of the villains apart from Spider-Man’s villains within the eight years. Skipping over a lot of these villains lets the player finally see different villains face off against Spider-Man, given we’ve seen so many of these in films already. Aspects of these fights are discussed, such as Tombstone’s drug running as well as the vial used to contain Sandman. Through J. Jonah Jameson, players can learn of the consequences of some of these fights, and the theme of consequences is something that is driven through the history of Spider-Man within this universe. The opening scene starts with Spidey making the decision of either paying his rent or going to stop Fisk. He chooses the latter, and later in the game, he is evicted and has nowhere to stay. He tries to save the two men he idolizes, Li and Octavius, but in order to save New York, he has to abandon them. The game ends with the decision of either using the cure to save Aunt May or make sure there is enough for everyone in the city. Spider-Man makes the decision to save the city, solidifying that in the end of this game, he had to lose everyone he loved in order to save the city.
Throughout the 60+ years of Spider-Man comics, loss is something that drives the character. Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, Aunt May, Ned Leeds, and Harry Osborn are just some of the people that the iconic webslinger has had to lose in order to learn responsibility and his duty to protect everyone. Insomniac’s take on this character takes away practically everyone in order to set in stone that this Spider-Man is in a new stage of his career; the things that defined his youth are all gone. Throughout the game, what truly happened to Harry Osborn is slowly revealed to where he has a chronic disease that’ll kill him. The game’s post-credit reveals that in Norman’s attempt to save Harry, he, in turn created Venom, the main antagonist for the next game. Outside of MJ, Harry is the last piece of personal connection that Spider-Man has outside of his desire to protect New York. By the end of the game, the line between Spider-Man and Peter Parker is no more as the only people he has left know he is Spider-Man and Peter Parker is no more.
Peter Parker as a character is one that audiences have always been able to relate to, but every version we’ve seen of the character so far has been in his high school years. Insomniac makes the smart decision of skipping over that and giving us a 23-year-old Peter, one straight out of college and working at Octavius Industries. By finding backpacks throughout the city, the player can learn more about the personal life of Peter Parker. He grew up idolizing Dr. Octavius leading to his desire to work alongside him. After high school, he and MJ planned to move in together, but they ended up breaking up over Peter being overprotective. He had worked at The Daily Bugle for a brief period and sold pictures of Spider-Man to J. Jonah Jameson but quit after photos were used to frame Spider-Man for the murder of innocent civilians. He maintained his geekiness into adulthood and still struggles to talk to women, whether its MJ, Yuri, or even Aunt May.
Peter exists as an exact representation of all of us. He has confidence at points but still has a sense of awkwardness to him to where he struggles to speak at points. His love life is still a mess, and his dream job turned out to leave him with little money and struggling to live. He lived out the fantasy everyone has of working alongside the person they idolized, and despite every single problem in his life, he still makes sure to protect the city from anybody who threatens his home, making Insomniac’s Peter Parker the perfect Spider-Man. Thank you for watching Spidey Squad and make sure to like and subscribe and tune in for more great videos.
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