I love Spider-Man. Bloody love him. For as long as I can remember, he’s been my favourite superhero. I grew up reading about Peter Parker, and watching him grow up as well. Sure, I stayed up all night with a comicbook under my covers to see if he’d beat the Green Goblin, but I was just as excited to see if he and MJ could solve their problems, to see how he matured as a person and how his life as Spider-Man changed his friendships.
Comicbooks struggling to move with time has always been an issue. Batman is a mortal man, yet he’s been punching criminals since the 1930s. One of the best things about the wall-crawling, web-slinging, spider-verbing menace is that time does push forwards for him. Not as quicky as in the real world, sure, but he’s gone from high school to college, from struggling to get by as a photographer to jobs as a teacher then a scientist. He went from awkward kid who could barely speak to girls to married man to…
And there’s the problem. Spider-Man’s stories have always been a long-running soap opera, but the marketing never really left behind his teenage origins. Spider-Man is the superhero who is a kid, just like you! When he grew older and got married, that was harder to sell so those upstairs fought hard to go back on it, while the people reading and writing these stories actually understood Spider-Man.
Mary Jane left Peter Parker! (they got back together)
Mary Jane died! (she didn’t really)
Peter and MJ sold their marriage to Satan to save Aunt May’s life in a tonally inappropriate, out-of-character and controversial story that fans hated! (they haven’t gone back on this yet)
The films have made it even worse. The original Sam Raimi trilogy started in High School and moved to college, but then they stopped.
Marc Webb took over with Amazing Spider-Man, and Peter was back at school for two films.
Marvel Studios, the beloved saviours of superhero films took over and despite capturing the character better than ever, gave us the youngest Spider-Man yet and promised even more school-based films. All of this without mentioning the weird, crybaby characterisations and turning MJ and Gwen into generic love interests.
All of this moaning, and I’m finally getting to my point.
This is a tweet from Insomniac, the team who are producing the new Spider-Man game that might finally convince me to buy a PS4. Spider-Man has had an interesting history with videogames, some mostly crap or mediocre titles occasionally elevated by phenomenal web-swinging traversal.
Now, he’s getting a standalone game which everyone is assuming will take lessons from the stellar Arkham Batman games. Rocksteady’s trilogy gave us a Batman story that assumed much of the history had already happened, letting them pepper it with characters we already know and love and tell new stories.
This tweet suggests Insomniac is also giving us a Spidey who has a history. It isn’t a stretch to imagine the Goblin, Ock, Venom and the rest popping up as boss fights while the likes of Spider-Man 2099, the Black Cat and others lend a hand. Maybe we’ll even see a glimpse of Peter and MJ, as a mature, married couple.
Spidey PS4 isn’t alone. The short Renew Your Vows mini-series showed us a Pete and MJ who were married with a daughter, and was so popular it’s getting an ongoing run. This is separate from the main series, of course, but it’s something.
Maybe Spidey PS4, and new comics, can show that young people can respond to characters who have grown up, so long as the stories are good.
And if they really want a young, single Spidey… they’ve got Miles Morales. Make the most of him!
By Luke Summerhayes