For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be Spider-man. It became such an obsession when I was younger that I used to try and encourage spiders to bite me, just so I could somehow contract their inherent abilities. It’s a churlish dream I still cling too now like Spidey does to walls. I imagined swinging through the streets of my quite, suburban town where the most severe crimes are perpetrated by dogs urinating on walls or kids littering. To escort civilians across moderately congested roads, while concealing my identity from my gorgeous red headed girlfriend who is voraciously attracted to me, for some reason. This adolescent career ambition occurred at a time when the animated Batman series was having a profound influence on kids my age. Yet the proliferation of atmospheric morbidity and Gothic tone depicted in that show, though more popular, just didn’t appeal to me. I personally exhibited a preferred affinity for the cosmetic vibrancy of its cheerier contemporary. The Animated Spider-man Television series from the mid 90’s was my first foray into Spidey’s robust mythology. Centring around Peter Parker in college as opposed to the traditional High School location, this series had the courtesy to omit the abundantly ubiquitous origin story, graciously presuming that it’s audience was aware of how he had obtained the vaguely arachnid genetics and came to understand that “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Though the series lost direction towards the end, evident in the recycling of animation and superfluous characters I still found Peter Parker to be a provocative yet fallible hero to idolise.
There was something so relatable about an anxious teenager that was socially awkward, suffered with crippling acne and couldn’t talk to women without stuttering like Hugh Grant at gun point. I’m not sure what it was? Perhaps the dark hair. What I do know is that I wanted to emulate him in anyway I could. The most effective means of doing this without injury, which was ordinarily sustained when I attempted to crawl down the stairs pretending I was Spidey, was through gaming. The first exposure I had was Spider-man on the PS1. Because this iteration featured many vocal talents associated with the show, including Rino Rimano (Spider-man Unlimited) as Spider-man/Peter Parker I immediately gravitated towards this vernacular of Spider-man lore. Featuring an effusive roster of villains, including a comical Venom this particular Spider-man remains a vigorous emulation of what I consider to be the chief principles of being Spider-man, albeit within the confines of the consoles technological limitations. It’s wasn’t perfect, sure, but there is certainly a potential. Spider-man 2, the game adaptation/accompaniment to the Sam Raimi movie was a valiant, if venerated attempt to imitate the sensation of Web slinging with authentic orientation. Navigating through streets with a fluidity and precision that has never been bettered. The novelty wears off rather quickly, as you become distinctly aware of the enviroments artificial experience, exposed to the cities vacant energy and modulated extremities, such as the routine activities of vehicles and dead eyed general public. Not to mention Tobey Maguire’s inept delivery of Spiderman’s rapier wit. Many (Many!) Spiderman titles have followed, some better than others. Yet none have adequately condensed the endeavours of this illustrious periodicals. Moreover it became evident that Batman was fairing much better.
I remember playing Arkham Asylum and thinking “Why can’t we have a Spider-man game like this?”. All the elements are there; such as the similar frenetic combat. They both accommodate a varied and robust rogues gallery. They’re both equally adept scientists and skilled tacticians. Yet what was most striking was the way in which Batman was able to intuit and anticipate an adversary strike and successfully counter it using, I guess, some kind of inherent “Bat-sense”. There were even visual lightning bolts that would flash above his head to indicate an incoming attack?! You know, like a “Spider-sense”, an ability that Spider-man actually possesses, rather than a convenient combat auxiliary that facilitates a arbitrary visual mechanic to help expedite the need for intuitive player reaction. Not that I’m mocking it’s inclusion, I would have died repeatedly without it. But how difficult would it be to convert Batman into Spider-man, Gotham City to Manhattan, The Joker into (preferably)Venom and brighten the monochromatic style associated with Batman into a brightly coloured style of a Spider-man comic? Not 20 years of mediocrity difficult, surely?!
Spider-man Homecoming is released this year to coincide with its cinematic equivalent. Expectations are high considering Insomniac are developing it and if anyone can pull it off its this talented studio. But to me it shouldn’t be difficult. If it can harness the style and tone of the PS1 game, with the open world and swinging mechanics of Spider-man 2, coupled with the combat and polish of the Arkham series! *num num num*. Tasty. I’m confident that Spider-man Homecoming can replicate the energetic feel of character, without comprising the environments with linear concessions or impeding the dynamic free sprawling architecture, that Spider-man can interact with, skirting acrobatically across buildings, spinning webs any size, catching thieves just like light and generally doing whatever a spider can. Insomniac have been given a great power, now please use it responsibly.
Which Superhero has been most influential to you? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.