Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is time to save the MCU
While many fans are weary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Insomniac's upcoming Marvel's Spider-Man 2 video game may reignite enthusiasm.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has entered its fifth phase with a lackluster third Ant-Man film, but there's still room for the upcoming Marvel's Spider-Man 2 video game to reignite the enthusiasm of the Marvel faithful. Marvel's ventures outside of comic books have been largely successful, and the MCU has established a template that other franchises have tried to emulate for over a decade. With multiple movies and Disney+ Marvel TV shows coming out every year, the MCU is more saturated than ever, leading to MCU fatigue. The original continuity established in Marvel's Spider-Man game series remains fresh and exciting, and the slower release schedule allows each title room to breathe.
Not every Marvel gaming venture is equally successful, and those wondering why Marvel's Avengers was delisted so quickly can look in part to the MCU for the answer. The game follows the regrettable "games-as-a-service" trend to the detriment of an otherwise competent main story campaign. The story is also held back by relying too heavily on the MCU's version of the Avengers team. Marvel's Avengers didn't dare stray far from familiar heroes from the 2012 film, and neither did Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. The protagonist's choices are limited. Instead, Marvel's Spider-Man is very different from the MCU version of the character.
The MCU Could Not Lead With Popular Marvel Characters Like Spider-Man & Wolverine
The video game's Peter Parker is not the MCU's high school hero, but a part-time research assistant in the more experienced militia. Marvel's Spider-Man opens with the capture of Kingpin, a villain who has no connection to Spider-Man in the films. Marvel's Spider-Man's new approach proves that Marvel games need to stop chasing the MCU, with other enemies that didn't make it to the big screen -- like Rhino and Scorpion -- and new entries like Mister Negative. The MCU avoided Spider-Man for years due to licensing issues with the films, and the X-Men were similarly ignored.
Insomniac's first Marvel game focuses on Spider-Man, and its upcoming projects include a Wolverine game. Spider-Man and the X-Men have long been two of Marvel's most popular franchises, and by starting their Marvel Universe games with these characters as a starting point, the game developer did something the MCU couldn't. The MCU does a commendable job of creating characters like Iron Man and Thor, but Spider-Man and Wolverine are the more popular characters that were initially unavailable to Marvel Studios. The Insomniac games are led by two of Marvel's most iconic heroes, and Marvel's Wolverine could herald a comeback for the X-Men in gaming.
Besides the ability to tell stories the studio is interested in, rather than focusing on promoting characters that are available due to licensing issues, the slower pace of production of the games and their overall quality set them apart from the MCU. Keeping up with the MCU requires tracking an average of three or four movies a year, and multiple Disney+ franchises are now must-sees for hardcore MCU fans. The Miles Morales spin-off game comes out two years after the original Marvel's Spider-Man, and the game's sequel is expected to release roughly a year before Marvel's Wolverine. Game fans can easily finish each game before the next one is released.
Insomniac's Games Have The Fresh Feel Of The Early MCU
Video games are a more active form of media than movies and television, which also sets the series apart from the MCU. Every player can explore a whole new Marvel continuity, taking Spider-Man the way of the Batman: Arkham series, where dynamic, surprising twists are possible. It is generally believed that each A new MCU movie or TV series exists to promote the next batch of MCU stories, not to focus on itself. While Marvel's Spider-Man 2 will maintain continuity with Insomniac's Wolverine game, players can expect it to tell its own story rather than serve as another piece of the puzzle that won't come together until Phase Six.
In the past, it was inappropriate to compare a video game based on a comic book to the film version. The game's storytelling evolves over time, and the cinematic style of Insomniac's Marvel-licensed action game includes as much emotion and character development as any MCU film. Tracking Marvel Comics' complex continuity changes over the years is a daunting task. Release information on Marvel's Spider-Man 2 confirmed that Venom and Kraven the Hunter would appear, but players didn't have to do any homework to understand the game's story; the clear continuity of a video game is easier to come by.
With the introduction of the MCU to the multiverse, now includes every earlier Spider-Man film series, as well as many in the what if…? Animated series, the MCU is getting closer and closer to comic book sophistication. That might be beneficial for longtime fans, but a game like Marvel's Spider-Man provides all the context it needs in its own story, and it's a welcome change of pace. The original game and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales established the perception of Marvel in its own unique tone, and seeing it grow with the next game is a welcome prospect.
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Could Deliver A More Mature, Somber Story Than Most MCU Films
Trailer reveals that Marvel's Spider-Man 2 avoids the comic's recent redesign of Miles Morales' suit for an Ultimate comic look. Unlike those comics, where Peter Parker and Miles Morales share the mission to defend New York City, in Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles takes over the Spider-Man mantle after Peter's death. The origin of Doctor Octopus is given more emotional weight than most character descriptions, and players may expect a similarly heart-wrenching story in Marvel's Spider-Man 2. While the tone of the various MCU titles may vary, they mostly have a homogenous approach that leans toward irony and jokes rather than attention-grabbing.
Seems odd to expect a more serious storyline from a video game than a movie, but Insomniac has set a high bar so far. It's reasonable to expect Kraven and Venom to appear as fleshed-out opponents, similar to Mister Negative and Doctor Octopus from the original game. Marvel's Spider-Man 2 could borrow from darker comics, such as Kraven's "The Last Hunt" storyline from the late 1980s. The MCU has become more rote and tedious for many, and games like Marvel's Spider-Man 2 have reignited the excitement of seeing bold new interpretations of the beloved comic book universe.
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