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I've said it before and I'll say it again: with Marvel's Spider-Man, Insomniac Games has given us one of the greatest versions of the iconic hero in any medium. I am prepared to fight anyone who disagrees with me, but only if they're smaller and weaker. I'm sure the bigger, stronger naysayers have some valid points.
The 2018 game introduced an entirely new Marvel universe for an entirely new Peter Parker, one that draws as much from the comic books as it does from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Insomniac were able to cherry pick the best and most interesting elements from all corners of Spidey history, utilizing the best of Stan Lee, Dan Slott, Brian Michael Bendis, Sam Raimi, Sarah Pichelli, and so many other talented creators to weave a world that was familiar, but wholly new.
With 2020's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Insomniac was further able to explore this new world and flesh out Miles' fledgling Spidey in the process. What immediately struck me when playing Insomniac's latest adventure for the first time was just how delightful it was to be back in this universe with these characters. Whether working with Ganke and learning more about the people in Miles' life or hearing from Peter and discovering what he'd been getting up to, it's clear that Insomniac is building out a world that it intends for us to stay in for a long, long time. Keep the good times rolling, I say.
It typically takes several years of development between main entries in any franchise, and Marvel's Spider-Man is no different. Miles Morales was essentially Marvel's Spider-Man 1.5, a spinoff that leveraged the open world and mechanics of the first game to tide us over while we wait for Marvel's Spider-Man 2.
As a strategy, I'm all for it. Miles Morales felt different enough and fresh enough that even calling it Marvel's Spider-Man 1.5 feels a bit like I'm doing it a disservice. It may have a shorter runtime and recycled open world, but Miles feels completely different from Peter, both in terms of gameplay and story. And if Insomniac wants to carry on dropping more spinoffs in between main entries, I know where we can go next: back to high school.
When Marvel's Spider-Man starts, Peter has been spinning webs and catching thieves for about eight years. He's a seasoned crime fighter with a killer selection of gadgets and a good relationship with the city he's sworn to protect... minus a certain mustachioed podcaster.
We learn through the game's story and a number of open-world collectibles that Peter had a rocky road in his early years as Spidey. He got beat down by Kingpin a bunch, tangled with Vulture, and of course, lost his uncle Ben and discovered that whole thing about power and responsibility. You get it, he's lived a life - and it's one I'd love to see.
I'm well aware that we all know how Peter got his powers and that superhero origin stories have kind of been done to death at this point. But I also know that if anyone could come up with a fresh take on Spidey's formative years, it's Insomniac. Look at Marvel's Spider-Man and Miles Morales. It gets these characters.
Insomniac knows what makes Spider-Man work, what needs to always stay the same to remain true to the core of the characters and world, and what exactly needs to change to keep us surprised. Spending time with younger versions of Peter, MJ, and Aunt May would only give these relationships and this world more depth, making subsequent sequels that much richer as a result. I'd also point out that we haven't actually seen uncle Ben shot since 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man, so I reckon it's high time we wheeled that mf out for another death scene.
Perhaps more than any other superhero, Peter Parker's origins remain an intrinsic part of who he is throughout his career as a costumed crimefighter. Insomniac's take on the character is one that who will always do what he perceives to be the right thing no matter the personal cost. Even as a grown-ass man, we see him put protecting New York ahead of work, personal relationships, and his own wellbeing. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Spidey history knows that uncle Ben's murder is a big part of what made him this way, but I firmly believe Insomniac would find a new and interesting way to tell this time-honoured origin story again.
I'm sure it also goes without saying that playing as a younger Peter would open up new possibilities in terms of gameplay. A Spidey that's clumsier and more reliant on his strength and agility than high-tech web gadgets is something Miles Morales definitely touches on, but a Peter Parker origin story could take that concept even further.
If nothing else, it's just fun to see Peter as a younger hero balancing high school and superheroics. That is, after all, how the character was originally envisioned. I adore the older and more mature version of the character depicted in the modern comic books and Insomniac games, obviously, but there's something quintessential about teenage Spidey, isn't there? That was a rhetorical question. There definitely is.
I also wanna stress that I'm not trying to bench Miles here. I have my suspicions that he'll play a big role in Marvel's Spider-Man 2, and a potentially even bigger role in any sequels that may or may not (but definitely will) happen. Rather than simply relegate Miles solo adventures to spinoffs or expansions, I'd rather see the past explored at least once. Insomniac's Spider-Man universe is such a joyous and lovingly made one, it just seems like it'd be a missed opportunity not to visit the time and place where it all began.
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