*Disclaimer: I have not played the new Spider-Man 2 game, only seen YouTube reaction videos and read articles. Also spoilers*
When I saw the teaser for Spider-Man 2 last month, it seemed promising. It may have been brief but seeing Kraven hunt an unfortunate individual and react with boredom to his “challenge” was a great appetizer. I grew up in the 16 bit 1980s so the visuals of modern games always amaze me.
A few days ago I saw clips of the game and was a little surprised. Hearing Peter and Harry say “Love you” to each other was…unexpected. Ok, so…the game creators are letting them express emotion. Nothing wrong with that. On a more shallow level, I saw the depiction of Mary Jane and was surprised again. It’s not that she was unattractive but she wasn’t what I was expecting to see. Then again, I like my science fiction to be semi- grounded in reality. How often does the nerd end up with an actual supermodel?
Today I saw a reaction video from a creator that was very unhappy with the “woke” aspect of the game. I partially agreed with his analysis: having a side mission where Miles’s girlfriend goes spray painting is very random for a superhero game. Having Miles help his gay friend ask his boyfriend to prom is also out of place. Where I differ from the YouTuber is that the characters being diverse didn’t bother me but they were used poorly. Gay characters are fine but have them do something worthwhile. It’s nice to see Miles with a hearing impaired girlfriend and having a civilian trying to survive the chaos is a novel idea. Just have her do something interesting.
Many gamers may find these plot points to be distasteful and I wish they had an alternative, traditional game that they could enjoy. However, that won’t be happening as Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man. Sony has been accused of pandering to a political agenda and I can understand that sentiment. At the same time, times and attitudes change and these new cultural attitudes aren’t completely uncommon, especially in a setting like the Big Apple. Personally, I think that Spider-Man stories have often had a liberal bent anyway so we can’t be too surprised. (See Amazing Spider-Man #68, Amazing Spider-Man #69 and the Amazing Spider-Man #583 (Story 2) covers featuring Barack Obama.)
As for pandering, that’s nothing new. How much of comic book stories are wish fulfillment? The Everyman gains superpowers, becomes nearly invincible against deadly enemies and is surrounded by beautiful women. Mary Jane was a model, as was Glory Grant. Felicia Hardy is stunning and even somewhat minor characters like Betty, Liz, Deb Whitman and Gwen are attractive. There is no such thing as an ugly woman in comic books.
We live in controversial, divided times and art is reflecting life. Many people will not like some of these changes. I honestly don’t know what else to say.