Despite the overall quality of Insomniac games, both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales have the same narrative problem, as they depict Spider-Man fighting to protect rich, corrupt business circles and politicians from those who expose and destroy them. Peter Parker constantly defends Norman Osborn, the despotic mayor of New York, who destroyed many lives and careers for the sake of his illegal and inhumane experiments. In the follow-up game, Miles Morales also stands between her childhood friend Fin Mason and her plans to destroy Roxxon Corporation and Simon Krieger, despite Krieger’s cover-ups and lies that put profit above human lives. Turning to Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, the Insomniac villains gallery is diverse, but the developer needs to move away from the model according to which Spider-Man acts as a free defender of corrupt one-percenters, and stop placing the character between the victims of corporations. and the real evil masterminds.
The model of superhero media placing heroes on the side of those who abuse power is widespread and hardly unique to Insomniac Spider-Man games. Matt Reeves’ Batman features a version of the Riddler who sought to expose those who abused the charitable foundation created by Thomas Wayne, using the Renewal Fund as personal savings for both criminals and elected officials. The series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” ended with the Falcon confirming that his ideals coincide with those of the Flag-Smashers, a group that supported refugees and opposed nationalism, despite the fact that for most of the show this group was portrayed as villains. Although Mr. Negative wasn’t Marvel’s Spider-Man villain, after all, both he and Doctor Octopus shared the same righteous anger towards Norman Osborn. Martin Lee’s family died because of Osborne’s unethical experiments on people, and Otto Octavius had his career and research stolen by Osborne.
Just as Bruce Wayne spends most of the movie chasing Edward Nashton in Batman, Peter Parker spends more time fighting those who want to expose Osborne, instead of solving the root of the problem itself in the video game Insomniac. The problem is even worse in the Marvel movie Spider-Man: Miles Morales, where Miles defends Roxon from the Underground gang, despite the fact that he is aware of the company’s abuses thanks to his own mother’s political campaign. Real villains, characters like Norman Osborn and Simon Krieger, are the perfect backdrop for a modern vigilante superhero. Even after revealing Tinkerer’s identity in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Miles tries to stop Fin and Metro from blowing up Roxon’s facility. When Miles finds out that Krieger’s changes to the Nuform reactor will make this explosion devastating for the whole of Harlem, not just for Roxon, Fin understandably distrusts him. Miles had already lost all confidence in her, deciding to put the law above ethics.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales Should have Focused on Roxon as the Enemy
Characters like Osborne and Krieger fit into the story of classic comic book villains whose wealth and influence make them untouchable. While Miles did put some effort into finding the clues that eventually expose Krieger and lead to his arrest, the fact that he spends most of the game defending a company that he knows is unethical is a bad narrative. The vigilante archetype of superhero comics allows characters to do the right thing, even when the law does not allow it. Superheroes are not just stronger, more resistant to suggestions from the police and prosecutors (despite the fact that the modder found an unused PS4 Spider-Cop Spider-Man costume in the game files). Many old superhero stories focused on organized crime figures who are above the law due to bribes and intimidation, such as Kingpin, arrested at the beginning of Marvel’s Spider-Man. For most viewers of superhero media, especially in the US, a corrupt politician like Osborne or an unethical corporation like Roxxon is closer to home than a traditional crime boss figure like Wilson Fisk.
Insomniac games could focus on their Spider-Men targeting corrupt big financial interests like Oscorp and Roxxon instead of making these takedowns secondary in their battles with corporate enemies. While heroes like Spider-Man often agree that those who abuse power are wrong, they disagree with the methods of characters like Mr. Negative or Tinkerer. In the case of Marvel’s Spider-Man games, these methods include the use of chemical weapons in a densely populated city and the explosion of a generator capable of destroying an entire area. In a deleted scene from Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Fin urged Miles and his mother to leave Harlem because of Roxon’s presence.