The narrative director of Spider-Man 2 analyzes the structure of the superhero sequel
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is a story of healing. Themes such as overcoming grief, attempting to save close friends, and finding one's place in a world for...
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is a story of healing. Themes such as overcoming grief, attempting to save close friends, and finding one's place in a world for which they are responsible are all woven into Insomniac's sequel. Much of the plot has been kept under wraps, but I had the opportunity to meet with Narrative Lead Jon Paquette to find out exactly what we can expect from Peter Parker's and Miles Morales' latest adventure.
"The symbiote alters Peter's sense of responsibility," Paquette tells me. "If you've played the first game, you might remember that one of the themes we really wanted to highlight was that Peter can't do it all alone. He needed Miles, he needed MJ as part of his Spider-team in that first game. So, what happens in this story is that he starts pushing them away because he has this power and believes he can handle everything on his own, and he becomes imbalanced."
For many, this will be familiar territory for Spider-Man stories involving Venom. The symbiote is known for transforming Peter Parker from a shy nerd into a more unpredictable and violent version of who he once was, without regard for the people in his life or doing things the right way. He will wear black attire, have a rough voice, and likely be a bit mean-spirited for the sake of it. However, this time around, he is older, wiser, and motivated to heal his friend Harry Osborn.
Harry learns that Peter is Spider-Man just two hours into the sequel (and he may even know it from the beginning, as my preview started after two hours). This introduces a fresher narrative dynamic that will significantly alter their upcoming conflict.
"There are things that happened before the missions you played that we intentionally didn't show," Paquette explains. "We wanted people to not only fall in love with Harry, but also fall in love with the fact that Harry and Peter are best friends. There's a history of friendship between them, and it's pure. We want to explore how they became friends and things like that. It's really important that we understand the relationship between Harry and Peter because it's a big part of the story. There are many different stories about Harry, and this is our way of standing out by showcasing this truly pure friendship between them."
However, before Harry takes on the symbiote and becomes Venom, we will spend a significant portion of the game roaming New York as Peter Parker in his symbiote suit. Yuri Lowenthal's interpretation of the character is darker and more menacing, willing to put innocent lives at risk to achieve his goals. Insomniac aims to stand out once again with their fresh approach to a very familiar story.
"When you play the game, you'll notice that his voice changes," Paquette says about Spider-Man in the symbiote suit. "There's something, [Yuri] brings out some deep emotional stuff that makes Peter seem a bit different, and it's frightening. Especially when we love Peter so much. We don't want to see him knock a civilian to the ground, we don't want to see him be mean to Miles, but we had to go there to make our story truly make sense."
His relationships suffer because of it. MJ, Harry, and Miles can see what it's doing to him when he himself can't realize it, but he thinks he's better because he has this power. He is better and can't recognize what they see.
Paquette remains tight-lipped when I ask him about the symbiote suit itself - fans weren't exactly thrilled when it was revealed earlier this year. It was overly complicated with armor plates and lacked the distinctive lines of other suits in the game that were so popular. In the three hours I played, it seemed to have been updated with more pronounced features and bolder characteristics. However, when I asked if it had been changed or updated since the reveal, a PR representative interjected, stating that it had been "iterated" throughout development but no major changes had been made.
When I bring up the possibility of a SAG-AFTRA strike, which is associated with Insomniac's studio and several other studios in the industry regarding fair working conditions and the use of AI, Insomniac chooses not to address it. Instead, the company swiftly praises its many actors and mentions their recent appearances at Comic-Con.
"Unfortunately, we're not discussing the strike," Paquette tells me. "I wish I could. I wish I could. Yuri is incredible. We were just at Comic-Con with Yuri, Nadji [Jeter, Miles Morales], and Laura [Bailey, MJ], and the three of them together have a kind of magic and play so well off each other. We're really fortunate to have them as part of this franchise."
Just like Peter's first appearance, Spider-Man 2 has many characters. Aside from Venom, there are Kraven The Hunter, Mister Negative, Mysterio, Black Cat, Wraith, Taskmaster, and The Lizard, with undoubtedly more to be expanded upon in the full game. I asked Paquette if there was ever a concern that Insomniac could end up in a situation similar to 'Spider-Man 3,' where there are too many characters and far from enough time to do justice to all of them.
"I remember telling [Game Director] Bryan [Intihar] after we finished the first game that we could never have that many characters again because it was really challenging," Paquette says. "But I think we have about the same number of characters. It's just our way of telling a story. When you have all these great characters that Marvel provides, it's hard not to say, 'We could use this character for a part of the script.' But yes, it's challenging when you have a lot of characters because you don't want to tell too much of the story."
There are also characters like Gwen Stacy, an important figure in Spider-Man, whose significance has been further elevated by her highly popular presence in "Into the Spider-Verse" and "Across the Spider-Verse." Fans are curious if she will soon enter the world of Insomniac, but it appears unlikely.
We always have ideas, but we also need to focus on the story we want to tell, and unfortunately, she is not part of the story we want to tell for all the Gwen Stacy fans out there. But who knows?