If you’re like us, you’ve been analysing trailers and screenshots with a magnifying glass, trying to sleuth out who all the unannounced villains and other characters are in Marvel’s Spider-Man. The 2018 PS4 exclusive has masterfully played with our expectations for which villains will appear in videogame form.
Case in point, the E3 2018 PS4 gameplay showcase was a who’s who of infamous Spider-Man villains all gathered into one videogame. There were hints at a mastermind gathering them all together. One of our first guesses was, naturally, Kingpin.
But hang on. Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, and Vulture are all there. Electro has a fancy new suit made for him somehow. But there’s no sign of Oscorp handiwork or Doctor Octopus — this is a very different Sinister Six than we’re used to seeing.
Then, we saw Mr. Negative. A relatively recent villain in the grand scheme of Spider-Man, Mr. Negative and his Inner Demons throw our universe/timeline compass out of whack when considering Kingpin’s classic clashes with Spider-Man over many years.
Not to mention, as we’ve seen in Spider-Man on PS4, Kingpin amounts to a level 1 boss. That in itself is extremely odd, and unlike any previous portrayal of Wilson Fisk. It’s all in the name — from comics, to movies, to TV, to games, the Kingpin has always been pulling the strings.
We’ve got universes clashing, a final boss ousted early, and believe us — the villains are just the beginning of how this isn’t the PS4 Spider-Man game you were expecting.
So what gives?
The Villain Version Guessing Game
The answer is this is a completely new story, in a completely new universe. Insomniac Games is free to mish-mash whatever cocktail of characters it wishes, and it’s doing so liberally. Really liberally. It’s all fair game.
That’s not to say characters like Kingpin haven’t been given appropriate respect — quite the opposite. In Marvel’s Spider-Man, Peter Parker is 23 and has been in the superhero game for eight years already. His long battle with the Kingpin just happens to conclude as the PS4 videogame picks up. As we’ve seen from the gameplay demo, Spidey is yet to have the fight of his life against the Sinister Six.
So there is some sense to it, but it’s very much Insomniac’s own take. There’s no faithful facial recreation of Tom Holland. There’s no charting out Electro’s timeline to make sure it fits properly with Rhino.
All of a sudden, the title is making a lot more sense. This isn’t the Spider-Man you’re used to. This is Marvel’s Spider-Man.
That’s actually great news for Spider-Fans. It means we get to have Miles Morales, or Mr. Negative, or anyone else who might not have made it into the game, without worrying about universe conflicts. We’ll get as many as Marvel’s Spider-Man can cram into the 2018 game, and there will always be more favourites for DLC or sequels.
The other encouraging thing here is that Insomniac’s take on these villains (and the whole universe, really) is great. As fans of the original comics, we were really happy to see how everyone from Peter Parker to Wilson Fisk was envisioned here. Our early take is that Marvel’s Spider-Man captures these characters perfectly.
We Won’t Spoil Everything
There’s more to talk about here, but we want to let you discover some of the bigger surprises on your own. In this brave new 2018 Spider-Man, someone very unexpected is working with Peter Parker, helping him design gadgets and suit mods.
It’s very much a “reimagining,” and really drives home how much of a new experience this will be. Other characters are also reworked, such as Yuriko Watanabe. As the voice in your ear, she’ll play a very Commissioner Gordon role as unofficial liaison between superhero and police force.
It’s all the type of thing that could go horribly wrong if not handled well, but we left our play session feeling very positive. The PS4 villains in Marvel’s Spider-Man are at once original and iconic. As far as we can tell, all of the characters are.
— Jacinda Chew (@jacinda_chew) July 1, 2018
If Insomniac has free reign and is doing a fantastic job so far, there are more classic enemies we’d love to see. The Green Goblin, of course. Sandman. And how about the Doppleganger? But let’s be real, the villain we all want to see is Venom.
Art director Jacinda Chew seemed to slap that suggestion away in the above tweet, but it may not be forever. You’ve gotta give yourself somewhere to go, after all.