A few weeks ago, fans of good video games, good video game faces, and Marvel’s Spider-Man were shook by the revelation that for the game’s leap to Playstation 5—and the arrival of Spider-Man: Miles Morales—developers Insomniac Games had completely changed the face of its excellent take on Peter Parker. The more we see of it, the more my brain cannot reconcile it.
This morning, the official Spider-Man twitter released a new little teaser for Spider-Man: Miles Morales, in the form of a text conversation between Peter Parker and his heroic protégé. In the new game, we play as Miles a year into his career as a web-swinging superhero in his own rights, adapting to a move to Harlem with his mom Rio and being the sole webhead in town while Peter accompanies Mary Jane on a reporting trip. The text opens with Peter snapping a selfie of the duo to show Miles what a lovely time the two are having:
Except...it’s that new face. I mean, of course it’s going to be—they wouldn’t make a new face for the remastered PS5 version of the old game and not have it in the new game. But seeing it here in this awkwardly rendered selfie is still a shock to the system as effective as any of Miles’ venom blasts.
I’ve sunk hours and hours and hours into Marvel’s Spider-Man, across multiple playthroughs, all the DLC, and more photomode snaps than is probably necessary. It just does not register in my mind yet that this is not just Peter Parker, but the Peter Parker that made the first game such an excellent experience in the first place.
Here’s the thing though: this conversation? Extremely the Peter and Miles of this game universe. It’s great! They’re earnest little dorks who somehow have access to a distressing amount of emojis and memes of themselves to text at each other, because duh, they absolutely would. Even in the text, you can hear Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter’s performances come through. It’s as if nothing has changed, and the great spins on these characters Insomniac gave us the first time round will seemingly continue on into the next adventure.
But something has. Every time I’m lulled back into this world, that complete stranger is there gabbing his lips like he’s Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. It’s so completely jarring, like a thread on the web of life that’s not just been frayed but snipped into tiny little pieces beyond all recognition.
Maybe it’s just that we’ve not seen all that much out of this new version of Peter beyond some decidedly awkward screenshots and one absolutely nightmarish selfie—admittedly, I wasn’t too keen on the original at first before the game came out. To be fair, at this point we should be used to more Peters Parker than we can shake a web-shooter at. We’ve had like, four of them on the big screen this century, oodles more in comics, TV shows, and past games, too. But they were, at least, all meant to be different takes on the same character, new interpretations defined by their new looks.
This is still meant to be the Peter we met in Marvel’s Spider-Man. And it’s going to take a lot more than Miles liking his selfies for us to reconcile that in our heads.
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