The shadow of Peter Parker hovers over every Spider-hero, and none more than Miles Morales. Since his debut in 2011, he’s gradually gone from being one of many Spider-heroes to one of the most important Spiders in the entire Marvel line, positioned as the Nightwing to Peter Parker’s Batman. With Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, the tension of where Miles stands in Insomniac Games’ version of the Marvel universe is one of many threads at the heart of the sequel’s story.
Picking up nearly a year after 2020’s Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the newest game in the series sees Miles, much like Peter, struggling with balancing his superheroic duties with his personal life. While he proved himself a hero by defending Harlem on his own, there’s still moments where he needs to call the other Spider-Man in for help, which hurts him even more as his friends Ganke and Hailey have already been accepted into college and his mother is beginning to date again.
During the game’s first half, Miles ends up taking a bit of a back seat as Peter and Harry Osborn—who uses his Symbiote to operate as a proto-Venom alongside Spider-Man—tangle with Kraven and his army of Hunters. He’s still positioned as a lead character, but the Symbiote’s influence on Peter results in him eventually getting sidelined on missions and told to hang back. And if Peter isn’t doing it, Miles is doing to himself and ducking out of spending time with his loved ones. It all gets to Miles in a real way, which hits especially hard if one chooses to look at the mission logs through his POV. There’s a real sense of aimlessness for him early on, further driven home as several Miles story missions in the first half are solid, but nonetheless odd one-offs that feel like (or just actually are) setups for side activities.
On some level, this part of Spider-Man 2’s story may feel at odds with its marketing, which has heavily billed the sequel as a team-up between the two Spiders. But the game begins to really do right by Miles as the story pivots by focusing on lingering issues for him from those first two games. After being captured by Kraven to be the hunter’s next target, the younger Spider-Man comes face-to-face with Martin Li, who was responsible for the murder of his father Jefferson Davis in the first game. By fighting the negativity inside himself—manifested as evil versions of his loved ones—and naturally gaining new powers, Miles ends up conquering his demons. Now that he’s in a considerably better emotional place, he’s the only one who can save Peter from the Symbiote.
When it comes to Miles, it’s best to look at Spider-Man 1, his titular game, and Spider-Man 2 as a trilogy. Doing so provides a genuine sense of payoff as Miles comes considerably into his own during the remainder of Spider-Man 2’s campaign. With how much he holds his ground against the influence of the Symbiote during its takeover of New York, and how he’s ultimately the one who pulls Harry from the brink of death, it feels more than appropriate for the game to end with him and Peter accepting that he can be New York’s Only Spider-Man. If his solo game was about him telling himself that he’s got what it takes, this sequel is about him and Peter actually internalizing and accepting that.
The feeling is further enhanced if one goes through as many of the side missions and activities as possible as him after completing the main story. (Two of these, one of which features a side character from the original game, feel particularly potent through Miles’ eyes.) And by extension, side missions specific to him help flesh out his supporting cast, namely his mother Rio and love interest Hailey. For those who feel like Spider-Man’s moved away from his “Friendly Neighborhood” moniker in recent years, Insomniac appears to have heard you and built as much of the side material around appealing to that subsection of the fandom, which fits when shown through Miles’ POV.
There’s always a question of what you “do” with legacy superheroes, particularly those who share the same mantle and operate in the same city. The question of their larger identity and how to live up to that hangs over the new character in a way that can sometimes make for good drama but also be completely unfair to them if a particular moment doesn’t land well. For Miles, it’s been an especially thorny dilemma: when his original co-creator Brian Michael Bendis was his chief writer, it seemed like Bendis was gearing him up to ditch the Spider-Man mantle for something wholly his own. But those plans were abandoned after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse served as the definitive Miles Morales text in the eyes of the general public. Much like Peter, he is Spider-Man in a way that’s undeniable, which was a core message of both Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse from earlier this summer and his solo game.
Peter will almost certainly be back and playable for Spider-Man 3, whenever that eventually releases. But by ending on the promise of Miles being the main Spider-Man going forward, Insomniac opens the franchise up to new possibilities for him and other Spider-heroes that’ll come into the mix—something the post-credits scene indicates the studio is acutely aware of.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is available now exclusively on the PlayStation 5.
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