Fans have been in a frenzy for Marvel’s Spider-Man game since it was first announced last year at the PlayStation Experience event. That enthusiasm was sparked by the wall-crawler’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War and is further fueled by the upcoming movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Expectations were raised even further during E3, when Sony premiered the first gameplay trailer. Spider-Man marks the first licensed game from Insomniac Games, which is famous for the Ratchet & Clank franchise, but is also making a name for itself with multiple VR titles such as The Unspoken, along with other independent games.
With the blockbuster movie set to launch in July, the pressure is on for the game studio as it prepares for a 2018 release of the web-slinger’s newest game for the PS4. AListDaily spoke with Bryan Intihar, creative director for Marvel’s Spider-Man at Insomniac Studios to find out what goes into meeting the expectations for the brand.
Insomniac understands that there is an incredible amount of enthusiasm for Spider-Man, and its goal is to deliver a fantastic game to match it. The gameplay trailer that debuted at E3 demonstrated some of the open world gameplay, where players are free to choose their own paths across the world and deal with challenges in creative ways.
AListDaily asked Intihar if trailers for the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming was setting up expectations for the game. “Yeah, but I feel pressure regardless of Homecoming. I think the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe) set up expectations for a Marvel experience before Homecoming. It’s the same thing for Wonder Woman—the bar has been set so high from these comic book movies, TV shows, comics and cartoons that our video game needs to match or exceed it.” Although Intihar stated that he’s blown away with each new Homecoming trailer, each one does crank up the stress levels.
Intihar added that he was inspired by the approach movies and television shows like Netflix’s Daredevil use to get at the heart of what the characters are about. He also stated Insomniac is working closely with Marvel to get the Spider-Man brand right. Although a trailer confirms that Iron Man will be making a cameo in Homecoming, Intihar indicated that there probably won’t be any extra superheroes showing up in the game, stating that “we’re focused on making a great Spider-Man game” and Insomniac wanted to focus on getting this part of the Marvel universe right.
However, the appearance of Miles Morales—who is Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel comic book universe and the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series—at the end of the gameplay trailer does go a long way toward growing the overall brand. Having the character show up at the end, comic book enthusiasts a chance to educate those who aren’t familiar with the character, thus growing awareness. Intihar confirmed that Peter’s story will intertwine with Miles’ and he also said that while Insomniac was in discussions with Marvel about including some sort of crossover with the movies or comic books, it looks like the video game will be a self-contained story that feels true to the Marvel world.
That being the case, Insomniac is taking a few liberties with the franchise, particularly with the iconic costume, which has a giant white spider design that’s specific to the game. “We want to respect the traditions of the franchise, but we also wanted to mix things up and the suit is a good example of that coming through,” said Intihar. “Some people love it, some people hate it, but we expected that. Then we saw people cosplaying with it and one guy got a giant tattoo of it, and I said, ‘Oh my god, the game better not suck’ when he showed me. But we didn’t do it for shock value, we did it because it’s part of the story. There is a story behind the suit, and I think it’s really cool and that it’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
Furthermore, Insomniac isn’t looking to bring in any of the iconic Spider-Man comic book moments seen in some of the films, such as choosing to save a train car full of people or his love interest. “We’re influenced by certain situations, but this is an original story and these are original events,” Intihar told AListDaily. “I’m a big Marvel fan, and as cool as it would be to recreate these events, I want to give people a new experience. There are characters and situations that they may know, but the exact boss fights are going to be more original. But that doesn’t mean that when they fight a villain, they won’t see similarities to the comics because there’s tons of lore. But we’re trying to capture the DNA of that [hero and villain] relationship and how they would fight rather than copying it beat by beat.”
When talking to Marvel, Intihar discussed what made a great Spider-Man story. The conclusion was that the best stories came from when Peter Parker’s world collided with Spider-Man’s. A lot of people have asked Intihar why the team at Insomniac chose to feature Mister Negative instead of a more well-known villain for its E3 gameplay trailer. Intihar said that, besides the visual effects from the negatively charged weaponry, “we thought that it would be a great opportunity to see those worlds collide. When he gets up there, he doesn’t see Mister Negative, he see Martin Li because he knows him. Martin runs the FEAST (Food, Emergency Aid, Shelter and Training) shelters and Aunt May works at the FEAST shelters.” Insomniac wanted to push those worlds as close together as possible, but Intihar did note that Mister Negative was one of many villains that will appear in the game.
“We at Insomniac are dedicated to making this the best game we can,” concluded Intihar. “We wanted to do this character justice.”