Spinning webs, swinging between Skyscrapers and pouncing on mercenaries who are designed to never ever look upwards in the warehouse that they’re patrolling…Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a terrific game to play. It’s also a fantastic game to watch, as developer Insomniac haven’t just crafted the definitive Spider-Man simulator, they’ve stuffed it with a story that knows exactly when to make you laugh and when to reach for a box of tissues to wipe the tears from your face.
The fact that this level of excellence is kept up over a lengthy story campaign is impressive enough, but receiving haymakers to the emotional guts several times over? That’s a hell of an achievement, which results in plenty of iconic moments throughout the game. Here are ten examples of that mighty Marvel storytelling in action. Naturally, there are a HUGE NUMBER OF SPOILERS BELOW, CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!
Eight years of this…insolence.
Marvel’s Spider-Man throws you into the deep end from the second you start your game. Wilson Fisk has finally been exposed as the Kingpin of crime, his empire is burning and he’s determined to take New York down with him as he scrambles to erase any evidence linking him to more sordid activities. The assault on Fisk Tower isn’t just a fantastic introduction to the ideas behind Spider-Man, it’s also a fun throwdown with a nemesis who has nothing to lose thanks to your antics over the years.
What follows is a battle that feels like the result of a bloated Hollywood budget, offering spectacular camera angles, moments of glory and an ending that cheekily references the classic Sam Raimi film that propelled Spider-Man into the spotlight more than a decade ago. A fun, playful and an exhilarating introduction to Insomniac’s distinct take on the webhead.
Hello New York!
If the Kingpin sequence was a reminder of just how sensational Spider-Man can be, then the scene where Peter suits up is a soft reboot of the kind of hero that Insomniac envisions the character to be. Suited up in some new threads inspired by the ideas of his mentor Otto Octavius, Spider-Man’s test-run of his new costume is a bright and vibrant expression of the very human character underneath the mask.
He’s not a brooding vigilante, he’s a young man gifted with incredible powers and a sense of purpose. Seeing a hero who isn’t afraid to let the public know who he is and what he stands for on this subtle visual level, speaks volumes of Insomniac’s love for Spider-Man and the city he calls home.
Love seeing you two together again! You always were my favourites!
Marvel movies may be churned out at an astonishing rate these days, but none of them feel complete without a certain cameo popping up. Stan Lee’s face is always a welcome sight, and while his future looked dark and murky at one point, seeing the co-creator of an era that redefined comic books is always inspiring. Seeing that face digitally inserted into Spider-Man? It just feels oh so right and it completes the game.
I guess this is the plan!
The Inner Demons of Mister Negative running loose. A battle raging in the skies above, a helicopter about to crash and citizens in peril. How do you ensure that you don’t just manage to walk away from the wreckage, but you find a way to ensure that nobody dies? It’s a dilemma that would leave most heroes flummoxed, but Insomniac’s Spider-Man proves himself to be a master of improvisation, spinning webs and thinking quick as he does what only a Spider-Man can in this breath-taking sequence of adrenaline and action.
Did you just leave your clothes on the kitchen floor?
Gwen Stacy may have been Peter Parker’s first love, but Mary Jane Watson has always been his true love. There’s a history between the two, and while they may not always see eye to eye, it’s intimate moments like this that makes you realise just how perfect the two are for each other. It’s also a reminder of just how much Peter is willing to sacrifice to help others, as the one night where he finds that he may have a chance to reconnect with the one person he can’t stop loving, ends with a call to duty and a reminder that being Spider-Man is a 24/7 job.
You’re too late…just as you were too late to help me.
If you ever needed a peek into the inner workings of Spider-Man’s mind, look no further than this one scene. Injected with a particularly nasty strain of poison from the Scorpion, all of Peter’s hidden fears and doubts boil to the surface and the hero finds himself racing against the clock to not only save himself from an agonising death, but also from a mental breakdown.
It’s a harrowing examination of the responsibility that Peter carries with him, the crippling guilt that hangs over him like a spectre when he fails to save people. Great power might require even greater responsibility, but Spider-Man’s greatest strength also frequently serves as his greatest weakness as his habit of putting his life on the line to save even the worst villains in New York has regularly resulted in him being battered, bruised and broken during his career.
And yet, that’s also why Spider-Man is such a compelling character and a great role model, as it’s that sense of responsibility that defines him and elevates him. You think Captain America is Marvel’s paragon of justice? Even the star-spangled Avenger has nothing on the unwavering moral compass that is Spider-Man.
I’m trying to save you Martin!
No one is born evil. That path that leads to creating a person who inflicts harm on others isn;t a one-way street, and Spider-Man knows this. Throughout the numerous battles with Mister Negative, there’s a desperate fight to save the man he once was and to redeem the character. Whether he’s truly driven by hate, fear or more supernatural causes, Spider-Man’s real battle with Mister Negative is a conflict to help the good man buried within the darkness emerge.
It’s never too late for redemption, and seeing Spider-Man risk everything just to save one person? That’s a hell of a message that says so much about Spider-Man and his mission to find the best in anyone and everyone. Even if they don’t want his help.
Peter, where are you going?
While the birth of Doctor Octopus may be a foregone conclusion by the time you see Otto Octavius strutting around with some mechanical arms attached to a harness, nobody was expecting the character to be so sympathetic. You can’t help but feel bad for the good doctor: His body is shutting down, his brilliant mind risks being trapped in a living coffin and every attempt to stop his decline is met by resistance thanks to Norman Osborn’s bueracratic brutality.
All this anger eventually reaches a point of no return as Doc Ock assembles the Sinister Six and wages war on New York, but it’s his defeat that’s heartbreaking stuff. Broken and beaten, Doc Ock has to watch his last hope walk out of his life, as he desperately begs for Peter to stay. It’s emotionally shattering stuff, captured onscreen by some incredible acting, technology and a story that still isn’t done adding notches to the tally of victims claimed in this devastating final battle.
It’s a scene that doesn’t just end the threat of Doc Ock, it provides an amazing parrallel to the differences between the two men who share that moment. On the one side you have Doc Ock, science without passion and progress driven by cruelty, whereas Peter represents the cost of progress and the balance provided by emotionally investing in the future. Powerful stuff, that serves as a bookend to an amazing third act as the curtain begins to fall…
Take off your mask
The second May Parker started coughing up blood, you knew her days were numbered. And yet, the inevitable death of a person who was essentially Peter Parker’s mother, just doesn’t feel any easier even when you see it coming. In a final heart to heart moment, Peter finds himself faced with an impossible choice yet again, as he literally holds the cure to save his beloved Aunt May in his hands, but doing so would doom all of New York.
It’s gut-wrenching stuff, that emphasises that when the worlds of Spider-Man and Peter Parker collide, hard choices have to be made. Yuri Lowenthal’s acting captures this pain perfectly, as you feel like you’re sitting right next to him during this downer of a climax, seeing all the grief and pain that he brings to the moment when he has to say goodbye to the one person he loves the most.
Not that strange.
Marvel’s Spider-Man may have its fair share of secrets, but it’s this post-credits ending which is absolutely sensational. Ever since he was spotted in early trailers for the games, fans have been chomping at the bit to see Miles Morales don the webs and swing into action. Insomniac’s take on the character feels just right, as they don’t rush him into a costume, spending time instead on building the man beneath the mask.
The heroism that drives him after his father sacrifices himself to save people during a devastating attack, his quick thinking and the innate goodness inside of him. More importantly, Marvel’s Spider-Man sets up Miles as a student of the wallcrawler, one of the few fans of the webhead who follows his example to always stand up for those who can’t.
That’s why this scene works so well. There’s no doubt that Miles is on the cusp of becoming New York’s Spider-Man, but when you inherit a legacy of heroism that is built on sacrifice, trust and respect? That’s when you have something special brewing in the pipeline. It’s that very mutual respect between Peter and Miles that elevates this scene, and makes Miles feel like a natural successor to the mantle of being Spider-Man.
Something we can’t wait to see, in the inevitable sequel.
Last Updated: September 12, 2018