Spider-Man Part 15: It’s Time to Get Negative

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 16, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 56 comments

After Peter and MJ have their fight, we pause for a breather and check up on how our various secondary plots are developing.


These guys are so smart and they're such good friends. I can't wait to see what kinds of cool stuff they invent. I'll bet it'll have a huge impact on the city.
These guys are so smart and they're such good friends. I can't wait to see what kinds of cool stuff they invent. I'll bet it'll have a huge impact on the city.

We stop by Octavius Industries to see how the Otto plot is coming along. I realize I said this already, but I absolutely love this character. This entire story thread features solid writing, great dialog, and top-notch performances from the cast.  My only gripe is that it gets sidelined by the other, weaker plots.

We discover that Dr. Octavius has built some robot-arms that can be controlled directly through mental input. They’re super strong, they telescope out, and they’re scary as hell. Also, Peter reads an article that says these kinds of neural interfaces are dangerous and experimental. They could even cause… personality changes!

Ah well. I’m sure it’ll be fine. Doc Octavius seems pretty happy and I can’t imagine how any of this could go horribly wrong.

Meet Miles

What IS that on Miles' shirt? It looks sorta Spider-Man-ish, but not really.
What IS that on Miles' shirt? It looks sorta Spider-Man-ish, but not really.

We switch to playing as Miles for a bit. He gets jumped by masked men in broad daylight in a public place in a city patrolled by trigger-happy paramilitary goons because that’s how criminals behave in comic book Manhattan. Again, I wish this place looked more like comic book Manhattan and less like actual Manhattan. Anyway, Spider-Man saves Miles and they have a cute little bonding moment.

We play as Miles as he sneaks through a Sable checkpoint. Apparently Sable has put the city on lockdown and there are long lines in the style of airport security, even if you’re just trying to walk from A to B.

Once he reaches FEAST, Peter welcomes Miles to his new job working at the homeless shelter. He wisely doesn’t mention the place is owned by the dangerous mass-murdering asshole that killed his father. Miles’ mother even calls Peter to thank him for getting Miles the job. She’s sure it will be good for him.

Neither Miles nor his mother knows that Martin Li is the guy who bombed city hall at this point. Peter knows. The police seem to know. (At least, Yuri believes Spider-Man.) But the general public doesn’t. This isn’t a plot hole or anything. It’s just a strange thing for Peter to decide to do. Then again, Peter’s inability to recognize Martin’s psychopathic disregard for human life despite being a first-hand witness to it on repeated occasions is a little off-kilter. I’m not sure what to make of Peter’s behavior. Is the writer trying to show that Peter has a blind spot for Martin because they’re quasi-friends, or is the writer just trying be economical and having all the characters hang out at FEAST is a good way to keep them together?

Devil’s Breath

I like that they have extra slots in their briefcase, just in case someone goes for the 4-Pak discount of deadly biological agents.
I like that they have extra slots in their briefcase, just in case someone goes for the 4-Pak discount of deadly biological agents.

The chief Oscorp scientist behind Devil’s Breath is still carrying the stuff around in a briefcase for some reason. He’s got a battalion of Sable meatheads guarding him. I’m not sure why he’s moving the stuff around, but apparently this pharmaceutical / bioweapon needs to go for rides or get fresh air. I’m also not sure why they don’t just destroy the material. Or have it stored in a device that can destroy it in the event of an attack. Or why they don’t use a decoy. I wish this cartoon world would stop pretending to be a serious world so I could stop thinking about stuff like this.

Predictably, Martin Li was able to get a huge army of Demons and a massive battering ram truck into the heart of the city and take everyone by surprise, despite all the checkpoints. What, do these security checkpoints only hassle innocent civilians and do nothing to impede the activities of enemy forces? Doesn’t that sound a little…

Actually, that sounds totally plausible. Maybe it’s depressing, but I guess I can’t fault the story for being unrealistic here.

So begins a three-way fight. Martin and his terrorist buddies steal Devil’s Breath. Spider-Man jumps in and tries to stop him. Sable shows up and begins shooting at both of them, even though hitting Martin with a missile would probably release the bioweapon.

During the struggle, Spider-Man confronts Li inside the speeding truck. Li grabs his arm and uses his unexplained powers to attempt to mind-control Spider-Man.

Martin Li Makes No Sense

I'm starting to think that Martin Li isn't a very nice guy.
I'm starting to think that Martin Li isn't a very nice guy.

So now Spider-Man is sucked into a hallucinatory dream realm to confront Martin Li. I found this section tedious, but your mileage may vary. I think this kind of thing works better in print. You can suspend time and have a couple of characters face each other in some abstract non-physical way. They can reveal their characters through dialog and we learn more about who they are. In a videogame, it’s just a boss fight that doesn’t matter because it’s a dream.

In this scene we get some hints about what Martin Li wants, but let’s look ahead and spoil his entire plan.

Eventually the story will reveal that years ago, Norman Osborn and Otto Octavius were science buddies. They tried to cure young Martin Li of some unexplained sickness using unexplained science. The experiment gave Martin Li his super powers. The resulting explosion also killed both of Li’s parents. Or maybe he killed them with his out-of-control powers? Whatever. They died in Norman’s science lab. I’m not sure how a failed science experiment resulted in demonic possession.

Is it possession? Does he have two different personalities? How does his good / evil thing work?

Either way, Li is out for revenge. He wants to hurt Norman Osborn. Given the way his parents died, that’s a reasonable enough motivation. The problem is that his plan doesn’t help him achieve his goals. He bombed City Hall and ordered his men to slaughter the survivors. How does any of that help him? He even called Mayor Osborn beforehand and warned him that an attack was coming, so the Mayor was already gone by the time the bomb went off. When Martin arrived at the scene it was clear Osborn was long gone, but he had his goons skewer the screaming wounded anyway. Was he slaughtering those people because they were possibly voters that supported Osborn, or because he was in the mood for some murders? Either way, that’s super dark and I think he’s lost the moral high ground with regards to his family being murdered by science.

The dreamworld confrontation takes place at the site of the public suicide bombing. This is a TERRIBLE locale for Martin to use to complain about how OSBORN is bad for the city.
The dreamworld confrontation takes place at the site of the public suicide bombing. This is a TERRIBLE locale for Martin to use to complain about how OSBORN is bad for the city.

His ultimate plan is to steal Devil’s Breath and unleash it on the city. That could kill millions, and there’s still no guarantee it would kill Norman. Li is so powerful and his army of brainwashed murder thugs is so vast that it should have been easy for him to nab Osborn whenever he wanted. He could kidnap the guy and torture him, or kill him outright, or kill his family, or whatever Li is into, revenge-wise. Instead his plans involve these absurd atrocities that hurt everyone except Norman.

Shamus, maybe he’s trying to ruin Osborn’s life before he gets his revenge? Like, he ruins his career, then ruins his company, then kills him?

I’ll just set aside the fact that terrorist attacks usually make leaders stronger. The “ruin his life” plan doesn’t appear in the text. You can believe it if you like, but a plan this nonsensical needs more than fanfiction to work for me.

Martin even has the audacity to claim that Norman is “a hidden cancer on this city”. And yeah, he’s a bit of a slimy politician. But last I checked he hadn’t committed multiple counts of mass murder.

Shamus, maybe he’s hurting New York as a way to hurt Osborn? Like, Osborn loves the city and so Li wants to destroy it?

If that’s true, it kinda makes me wonder why he went to all the trouble of opening up that homeless shelter. Moreover, Li himself contradicts this reading. Li explicitly says that Norman doesn’t care about people, so from his point of view Osborn shouldn’t care about all these dead civilians.

Okay, Norman Osborn is evil, but he's still murdered an order of magnitude fewer people than YOU, dickhead.
Okay, Norman Osborn is evil, but he's still murdered an order of magnitude fewer people than YOU, dickhead.

Shamus, you’re overthinking this. Li’s plan doesn’t need to make sense. He’s just crazy.

First off, it’s pretty sad to justify nonsensical plans with “crazy”. Secondly, “crazy” doesn’t mean “random”. Even if his goals don’t make sense, the things he does in pursuit of those goals should be something the audience can follow.

Even The Joker has clear motivations and plans in most stories. If there’s not some overarching character flaw to explain the nonsense behavior then it’s just a lazy shortcut for a villain that can do whatever the writer wants at any given moment. More importantly, this game isn’t really trying to sell the idea that Li is crazy. It doesn’t explain Li in terms of “The lab accident turned him into a raving madman”. Instead it reveals he has a terrible grudge for a good reason and then it shows him doing things that don’t advance his stated goals.

If you just want a bloodthirsty murder thug then you’re just making another Victor Zsasz or Carnage. Fine. Make your edgelord nutjob murderer. But then don’t waste all this screen time explaining his supposed motivations if they don’t have anything to do with the character’s actions.

It would be one thing if Martin was deliberately lashing out at the world and he wanted to make everyone suffer. But he keeps talking about his plans in terms of revenge on Osborn but doing things that don’t bring him any closer to that goal. If we’re supposed to blame this on “crazy” then the story needs to at least acknowledge this. Maybe he could act all high and mighty like he’s bringing justice, but then Spider-Man would point out that the revenge stuff is a smokescreen and Li just gets off on hurting people. The problem is that everyone else in the story takes Li’s revenge claims at face value.

Somehow Li was able to build all this wealth, establish this huge organization, acquire all these weapons, and dig up all this dirt on Oscorp, and yet he never once noticed that his own crimes are literally a hundred times worse than anything Norman Osborn ever did, and they do nothing to harm the target of his wrath?

I can forgive the mass murder, but quicktime events now? Martin, you are the WORST.
I can forgive the mass murder, but quicktime events now? Martin, you are the WORST.

Shamus, maybe the Demon is the real bad guy and Martin is just possessed?

Is there a demon? How does this work? Earlier in the story we read his diary and saw that even when he was running the homeless shelter he was making these ghastly plans while completely lucid. His plans are portrayed as clear, premeditated actions by a sane man who knew what he was doing. But then in the same document he says that “The Demon is hungry”. So which is it? Is he a psycho wearing a friendly face, or a good man who fell to some sort of external mind-control?

I can’t escape the feeling like the writer expects me to know how this guy works based on the comics.

Shamus, you’re overthinking this. The bad guy is evil and the hero needs to stop him. Not everyone needs to be a puzzle-box of complex motivations. Sometimes there’s just a bad guy.

That would be fine, but the story burns so much time building up this mystery about what Li’s plans are and why he’s doing it. Don’t tantalize us with a mystery and then demand we not think about it.

Martin Li Doesn’t Deserve a Redemption Arc

Martin Li is guilty of the one sin a comic book villain must never commit: He's uninteresting.
Martin Li is guilty of the one sin a comic book villain must never commit: He's uninteresting.

This gets to be really annoying towards the end of the boss fight when Spider-Man starts pleading with Li to “come back to the light”.

Dude, are you for real? What makes you think he’s capable of redemption? I notice you weren’t trying to redeem Kingpin at the start of the game, and this guy is a far sight worse than Kingpin.

Are we supposed to be impressed that Li runs a homeless shelter? Hitler loved his dog. He was also a big supporter of programs to help the poor, the aged, and the disabled. (I mean, assuming they are the “right” sort of poor, aged, and disabled.) But nobody cares because he was a genocidal bastard. If you look deep enough you’ll find lots of evil people had a “nice” side. They’re still evil people. Martin Li’s vaguely-defined “duality” gimmick doesn’t work for me because you can’t cancel out murders by occasionally being nice to hobos. I don’t buy it when Bethesda does it in their games, and I’m not buying it here.

Even if redemption is possible due to whatever unexplained rules drive Li’s behavior, there’s nothing in this story to make me care. It’s not like we’re trying to save him before he crosses some threshold and becomes a monster. That ship has sailed. And then some. Redemption or not, the only future this guy has is spending the rest of his life locked in a small box in the ultramax prison for super villains. Once your body count is in the triple digits and you’ve got plans involving the death of millions, it’s too late to think about rehabilitation. Even if a scientist teamed up with an exorcist and “cured” him of being a murderous asshole, he’s still going to rot in prison until he diesOkay, ACTUALLY he’s going to escape prison again and again until he stops selling comic books, but you know what I mean.. Since he’s completely unsympathetic and his plans are moronic, I don’t really care if he’s redeemed before they shove him in there.

Of course this chase scene would end with more of these silly things.
Of course this chase scene would end with more of these silly things.

I don’t know what Mr. Negative is like in the comics, but here in the game he’s a complete bore and Spider-Man’s pleas for his redemption are beyond tedious.

This fight isn’t over yet. We’ll cover the rest of this punch-up next week.



[1] Okay, ACTUALLY he’s going to escape prison again and again until he stops selling comic books, but you know what I mean.

From The Archives:

56 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 15: It’s Time to Get Negative

  1. Daimbert says:

    The character on Miles’ T-shirt looks a lot like a stylized Deadpool. And Deadpool and Spider-Man had a team-up comic a while back, so it makes sense as a reference but since Sony doesn’t have the rights to Deadpool they’d really want to make it not too recognizable.

    For Li, I haven’t played the game but from what you’ve said it looks like he doesn’t want to kill Osborn — probably at all — but instead to DESTROY him and take everything away from him. Letting Osborn know about the attack in advance gets him out of there, sure … but then Osborn is seen as running away from danger and he doesn’t do anything to actually stop the attack. The slaughter of innocents is a big part of that, because it creates an atrocity that will get massive attention but that Osborn couldn’t stop. The use of the weapon of mass murder does that as well: it creates a disaster that Osborn will be ineffective at stopping or doing anything about, eroding the public trust in him. So either Osborn will be ineffective, or he’ll resort to extreme measures to stop it that will chafe people (like bringing in Silver Sable and having those checkpoints). Either way, he’s not going to be all that popular at the end of it all.

    It’s still evil, but there is a reason why threatening and killing innocents is a key part of the plan: that’s how he’s going to make Osborn a political pariah, one way or the other. There are less evil ways to do that, and that he’s choosing the most evil ways possible does suggest something about him or his relationship to the perceived demon inside him (whether a real demon or a multiple personality).

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      I don’t see Spider-Man or Deadpool at all. It’s clearly just a Wall-e/Bender-style robot.

  2. Christopher says:

    There’s been this thing in reimaginings of Spidey since a long time ago where they try making his setting a bit more coherent. Most of his rogues gallery are just dudes who were in some superpower-activating accident or invented a cool weapon or powered suit, and decided to use those abilities for selfish reasons instead of altruistic ones. You know, as foils to Spidey, who also got them as random. But starting with… I wanna say the Ultimate comics, but there has been a lot of Spider-Man stuff, the showrunners prefer to have some sort of overarching narrative to what used to be episodic adventure bad guys. Mostly they tie the minor bad guys to the major bad guys.

    Take Spectacular Spider-Man for instance, one of my favorite adaptations. In it, Norman Osborn/Green Goblin is personally responsible for the creation of Rhino and Sandman as experiments. He later turns Liz’ brother into Molten Man, steals Adrian Toomes work which provokes his villain turn, and causes the accident that turns Dr. Octavius into Dr. Octopus. Directly or indirectly, he’s the main cause of many of Spidey’s opponents.

    In Spider-Man PS4, this at least isn’t framed as some master plan, but he’s still at the center of it all. I think Insomniac’s mistake was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Mr. Negative is a a guy who’s a merciless mob boss by night and a kindhearted philantropist by day. He’s not some kid who was abused by Osborn’s mad science and turned evil, and trying to fit that motivation over Li to facilitate him teaming up with Ock and building up Osborn for the second game does this story no favors. He’s superfluous in face of Octopus(Spidey needs two apparently idealistic and secretly evil father figures who hate Osborn?), and the way he acts makes little sense.

    To add to the positive aspects of the game, two great scenes this article made me think of, both of which have happened at this point:

    – One scene that happens when Dr. Octavius is developing his arms. He has them juggle a bunch of balls. I really liked this scene.

    – A scene that happens when Miles joins FEAST. He helps out a homeless man who then talks shit about his dad on TV without realizing who it is, and Peter steps in to help out.

  3. Hal says:

    They don’t simply destroy the Devil’s Breath because Norman still thinks it can be “fixed” to do what it was supposed to do. I can appreciate that, although none of their actions afterwards reflect that attitude.

    That said, I can’t get over the way they store it. The briefcase is stylistic, but that cannister? Spoiler alert: That cannister is designed to be used with an aerosolizing dispersion device. The Demons’ plot is to steal one once they have the Devil’s Breath. Why would you even do that?

    1. Agammamon says:

      As for the first point – what do comic book writers think people who develop new technology do? Do they think they just mix and match stuff until ‘something neat’ comes up? And then they only have the one physical item and later have to reverse engineer their own work to figure out how to do it.

      None of them keep records? There’s typically a tooooon of modeling and analysis before you move to prototype . . .

      Heck, let’s say they were just mixing and matching – none of them can remember what they were doing that resulted in the ‘something neat’?

      1. Hal says:


        The best example I can think of this was an episode of Leverage, “The Hot Potato Job.”

        A graduate student has come up with a genetically engineered potato that was super valuable for reasons I don’t recall. The point is, Big Evil Ag Co. wanted the potato, but she wouldn’t sell it to them. Being a noble soul, she wanted it to be free to the world so that it could help the poor. So BEA Co. steals the potato instead.

        That’s right: THE potato. Apparently she only has one? Whether she had only the one or many is irrelevant. The point is, she was a university employee. They weren’t stealing from her; they were stealing from the University. Which means it’s not just lonely damsel in distress trying to fight BEA Co. over the intellectual property of the super tuber, it’s the university’s lawyers. Who probably specialize in IP issues, if it’s a university where scientists are regularly creating discoveries.

        And you know what courts love to see in cases like this? Documentation. That graduate student would have reams of data and notes from developing her mega-tato. Heck, she probably published a number of articles about it over years of work at the university. BEA Co. might be able to use their ludicrous money to fabricate a work history on their end, but not in any way that’s going to make a court immediately send her away.

        Hated that episode.

  4. CrimsonCutz says:

    “It’s Time to Get Negative”. Well, we sure know what the tone of this post is going to be like!

    During the Osborn rally when Li calls in to threaten Norman, he claims he wants to make Norman watch everything he cares about be destroyed, and also that he wants Norman to be unable to help the people who beg him to save them. Given his backstory of having his parents killed and being turned into a comic book villain (be real, if you looked like Mr Negative wouldn’t you go evil? I feel like half the reason for his inclusion in this game is just that his design looks amazing for a supervillain) during an experiment where Norman Osborn was supposed to be helping him, this kind of seems like a reasonable evil dude motivation? He trusted Norman to help him, he got turned into a monster and had his family killed. So he wants to make Norman feel guilty for being unable to save people now. He definitely doesn’t seem to be 100% sure that Norman doesn’t care about anyone but himself. And given his final plan is to try to strong arm Norman into releasing Devil’s Breath himself, he seems to be going for a “make everyone see Norman as the false savior I see him as” angle here.

    I’m kind of surprised you object so much to Spider-Man trying to “redeem” Li. I agree that the guy has done way too much evil stuff to be redeemable, but I would have figured someone who likes the lighter, idealistic type of super hero stories would be on board with heroes trying to redeem people if they have any reason to think it’s possible, and Spider-Man does at least have a pretty strong connection to the side of Martin Li that’s capable of being a good guy. For comparison, in Star Wars, Darth Vader was sent to watch the destruction of an entire inhabited planet and make sure it worked smoothly, was totally fine with this, and no one ever seems to object to his whole redemption thing (besides me) despite there having been even fewer signs of a good side existing anymore (at best, he was unhappy to see Luke fall seemingly to his death). Did way more than trying to infect a city with a plague, did way less than devoting years to helping the homeless. If he can be seen as redeemed, Spider-Man wanting to redeem Martin Li but not actually succeeding (arguably, he might have been starting to hesitate at the end of their final fight before Ock crashed the party but that’s far from certain) doesn’t strike me as implausible.

    I started playing this game a bit after you started these write ups and no joke, when I got to the point where you find out that the only sample of Devil’s Breath is carried around by the head scientist instead of being kept locked away under eighteen layers of security, my first thought was “Wow Shamus is going to have a field day with these idiots”

    1. Agammamon says:

      I’m kind of surprised you object so much to Spider-Man trying to “redeem” Li. I agree that the guy has done way too much evil stuff to be redeemable, but I would have figured someone who likes the lighter, idealistic type of super hero stories would be on board with heroes trying to redeem people if they have any reason to think it’s possible, and Spider-Man does at least have a pretty strong connection to the side of Martin Li that’s capable of being a good guy.

      I’m not. There comes a point when ‘redemption’ is pointless. And as Shamus pointed out – what does redemption mean in this context? Those people aren’t going to undie. His criminal organization – even if he walks away from it – isn’t going to evaporate. It just means that he becomes ‘sorry’ for what he’s done. And then he spends the rest of his life in jail or psychiatric care.

      Sometimes, dead is better.


      1. Guest says:

        It’s Spiderman, idealistic to a fault, and it’d be massively out of character for him to decide “Dead is better”, jesus, what a poor choice of a line to use to describe Spiderman.

        The story makes the mistake of trying to tell a Spiderman story about a villain who is definitely not someone who the audience can empathise with redeeming-Spiderman’s idealism actually makes the audience find him less relatable.

        And it makes exactly zero sense why Kingpin gets the beaten-up and locked-up rigamarole, but apparently Li is worth appealing to.

    2. Syal says:

      The big difference with Darth Vader is nobody is trying to redeem him; Luke cuts off his hand, stops short of killing him because he realizes what it would do to himself, and then Vader has a change of heart all on his own just by seeing Luke fighting with the Emperor.

      If Spidey wants to redeem Martin Li he should be doing it from the other side of Li’s prison cell after he’s taken him down, not in the middle of the fight.

      1. PeteTimesSix says:


        Leia: But why must you confront him?
        Luke: Because there is good in him, I’ve felt it. He won’t turn me over to the Emperor. I can save him; I can turn him back to the good side. I have to try.

        1. Matthew Downie says:

          If Luke hadn’t succeeded, he’d have just looked like an idiot. Fortunately, his Force senses correctly identify Vader as worth saving.
          I guess Spidey-senses are less reliable in this regard.

    3. Guest says:

      I still don’t think that makes sense. The rally/awards ceremony for instance, that would massively help Norman-Li has guaranteed his reelection. A terror attack? And it was his supporters, and a hero cop killed?

      A better way of writing that would be to have Li plot to let people know that Norman fled, otherwise, why warn him?

      I get the feeling that Li knows Norman values power, and being on top, and has dedicated himself to getting there, and he wants to take him down, ruin him, before killing him, or making him live with it, I don’t get how he thinks this will help, and I certainly don’t get how he thinks turning the city into ground zero of a bioterror attack, with visible security measures in place so nobody could contest that Norman did everything possible to prevent it is meant to help with that plan, apart from blaming him for developing it, which is still a really roundabout way of maybe hurting his political career?

  5. Nixorbo says:

    What IS that on Miles’ shirt?

    Looks like a robot with a turntable to me. Or maybe a science machine of some sort.

  6. Matt says:

    Something I hadn’t thought about until now: who controls a superhero’s branding? Like, surely in a world where Spider-Man is real, you would still have Spider-Man Halloween costumes and Spider-Man toys and t-shirts. In fact, in addition to the (Deadpool?) shirt above, we see thieves wearing Avengers masks in Homecoming. Is Spider-Man considered public domain or can his look be copyrighted? Is using his likeness the same as using the likeness of Obama or Bill Gates? I have no idea what the relevant laws are.

    The only comic I can remember this being addressed in is the Watchmen, where Ozymandias’ corporate holdings are responsible for branding his alter ego. Veidt may be the smartest man in the world, but it doesn’t take a super genius to realize the financial opportunities here. Peter’s money troubles would be over!

    1. Kylroy says:

      …if he publicly acknowledges that he’s Spiderman. Which I’m pretty sure he hasn’t here.

      1. Matt says:

        All the more reason for him to support the Superhero Registration Act.

    2. Hal says:

      They vaguely reference this in the game, actually. There are collectibles around the city, backpacks, which contain various ephemera and lore items. When you pull them up in the menu, Peter says a few words about the significance of the items. One is a plush Spider-Man doll, and Peter laments that these never actually became a thing, because he’d have to actually establish his identity in order to get paid for them.

    3. Moridin says:

      If I remember correctly, in the Ultimate Universe Kingpin managed to get rights to Spider-Man merchandise(while Peter obviously never got a penny out of being a superhero). There was also a Spider-Man movie, and the director offered Spider-Man a cut in exchange of his identity.

    4. Agammamon says:

      He might be able to turn over the rights to a managing corporation. Depending on the jurisdiction (a company registered outside the US for example) for that company’s HQ he could get away with being an anonymous owner.

      Then that company could license or create content management companies in the relevant jurisdictions to manage the IP.

      The thing would be getting a core group of completely trustworthy people together to start with – only need one or two. And the hardest part would be others trying to do the same thing with your likeness, providing proof that you’re the owner of that IP.

    5. Taellosse says:

      Branding & copyright are actually recurring notes in Spider-Man comics (it also tends to turn up in cartoons, games, & movies starring him). Most often it’s a brief line played as a joke, but from time to time it’ll be a whole B-plot. Invariably, someone other than Peter Parker (or relevant alternate Spidey) has set up an operation of some sort (often fairly involved) and is selling merchandise – usually apparel but sometimes also toys or even entertainment media. Peter (or alt-Spidey) is always upset, of course, because he’s never getting any of the proceeds. Sometimes he just grouses about it, other times he actually confronts the one responsible & intimidates them into stopping. Regardless, he always complains how unfair it is that he can’t establish legal control of his own copyright without revealing his secret identity.

      The only time I know of where this trope was subverted is in the M2 universe, where the protagonist is May “Mayday” Parker, daughter of Peter & MJ, who becomes Spider-Girl/Woman. There, when a store turns up selling Spidey stuff, she reacts as usual, but its eventually revealed that the store’s owner is Mary Jane, and she’s putting most of the proceeds away into a college fund for May.

      Realistically, if Peter were just a little more savvy, this would be an eminently fixable problem, I think. It’s already a long-running notion that Peter “knows” Spider-Man – that they have a deal or business arrangement. Classically, Pete is Spidey’s designated photographer, getting advance warning when the webhead is about to go into action so Peter, freelance photographer, can get into position & take good shots. In this game’s setting, Peter’s left freelancing behind for his studies & a gig with Octavius, so he’s Spider-Man’s “gear designer” instead.

      But this is a perfectly reasonable foundation to build a legal framework around, and make Peter Parker into Spider-Man’s designated legal representative and proxy for IP purposes. All he’d need to do is go to Matt Murdock (Daredevil) – who’s a lawyer and happens to know his secret identity – and have him draw up a contract to that effect. Then Peter could license the Spider-Man IP in whatever way he likes, & earn a nice percentage off whatever’s produced. He could even establish a corporation which is assigned those rights, while Peter Parker divides ownership of said corporate entity with Spider-Man, who acts as a silent partner in any legal proceedings.

      In-universe, something like this is depicted as pretty common for heroes whose identities aren’t secrets. Presumably the reason it’s generally not for secret heroes is it’d compromise the “sacrificing for the greater good” trope such characters invariably have as a theme.

  7. Redrock says:

    The interesting thing about the Mr Negative dream realm fight is that I was completely sure that the game was setting up a sort of bait-and-switch where Spidey fighting illusory bad guys in the real world would actually be him puching civillians or good police officers in reality, putting you in the shoes of other people brainwashed by Li. But then, nope, it’s just an illusory fight. But hey, maybe I’m overthinking stuff once again. After all, I was also completely sure that Wolfenstein II was pulling a Repo Men on us.

    1. Moss says:

      Spidey fighting illusory bad guys in the real world would actually be him puching civillians or good police officers in reality

      That would have been more interesting.

      1. King Marth says:

        Eh, the “but thou must” nature of games, especially this class of game, would make that really annoying, as fitting as it might be that literal mind control gives you no option to avoid a bad outcome. Basically Spec Ops: The Line. Unless you could clear the scene without taking down any mooks, suffering more and more incoming fire as a result.

        1. Guest says:

          Nah, deal with it.

          That’d be massively coddling, and massively condescending, and give the game away. It’s a great idea to have enemies fought in the illusory world be civilians-one, it gives a reason why Spidey’s friends on the force can’t target Li-he’s an unreliable source, wanted by police. two-it gives more reason for Sable forces to be hostile, same reason. three-it feeds into Spidey’s guilt complex. four-it demonstrates how Li has managed to get such a huge crew of people doing awful things, because Spidey himself has done them. And of course you have no option, you’re being mind-controlled.

          It’d be great, and unlike Spec Ops, they have absolutely every reason to cheat, because you’re being mind controlled, and you still have an out for Spidey, because he doesn’t even kill his enemies. It ratchets up the stakes for the endgame with everyone after Spidey. You can hide it from the player if you don’t literally show the civvies turning into negative world mooks, for a cute twist, which is a neat way of making a scene where you win, into one where the hero experiences a setback, without cutscene incompetence.

          tbh, I found Spec Ops annoying when it tried to make you do bad stuff, because sometimes you could tell exactly what it was, like the WP scene, you can see they’re civvies, and if you do nothing, you fail, which makes no sense, because there’s no reason that not hurting civilians should be a failure state there. Here there absolutely is, you’re being mind-controlled.

        2. BlueHorus says:

          Well Spidey doesn’t kill – thanks to Cartoon Physics more than anything else – so he’d feel a bit bad about beating up say, some SABLE goons or civilians…but he’d get over it.
          ‘I hurt innocent people! They’ll spend some time unconscious/in hospital and then be fine.’ is a BIG step removed from all the stuff that the player does in Spec Ops: The Line.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I actually thought the same. For a moment I saw the villain as great. His entire, nonsensical scheme against Osborn was just an excuse. He really was interested in Spider-Man. Everything up until this point was tailored to attract Spider-Man to him at the right time. Once he did, Spider-Man would find himself fighting his mooks in the dream scene, and when he woke up he’d realize he had been attacking innocent people, in the site of a terrorist attack no less. His reputation would be destroyed, his self-confidence crushed, and now people would start thinking Jameson had been right all along and all of those strange things Spidey was spotted doing (due to side-missions and the like) would be seen in a different light.

      But alas, it was not to be. It was instead just some silly dream in which a boss battle was a metaphor for the battle inside Peter’s mind. A long, overused cliche that even Superman III did better.

  8. ElementalAlchemist says:

    There was a Spider-Man talk at GDC that might be of interest if you haven’t already seen it Shamus – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDhKyIZd3O8

  9. Liessa says:

    I wish this cartoon world would stop pretending to be a serious world so I could stop thinking about stuff like this.

    LOL. My feelings about this game, encapsulated in a single sentence.

  10. ccesarano says:

    It’s amazing how much stuff I’ll just go along with out of habit, and what kind of stuff will cause me to pause, consider, and reject. I just went along with Martin Li and the assumption that he wanted Norman’s empire to crumble. In reading this post, I finally actually started to think about his actions as a boring villain and realized how nonsensical it all is.

    Halfway through this post I realized Mr. Negative would have made a far better antagonist to Kingpin, who actually does love the city. Which could have also resulted in a moment where Kingpin and Spider-man have to agree to work together, which could fall in line with the game’s themes about facing the fact that you cannot take on everything on your own. By focusing on Norman Osborne instead, it just feels… really poorly thought out.

    I was never excited about Mr. Negative from any of the trailers, in part because I also had no clue who he was. A guy whose visual aesthetic is achieved with a couple of clicks in Photoshop isn’t really interesting when you have a whole rogue’s gallery to choose from, and the later Sinister Six reveal only made it all the more confusing to focus so much on Mr. Negative. In hindsight, I really think Mr. Negative was likely chosen so they could “do something different” from all the films, but failed to present a villain that was actually interesting in any fashion. He’s just… a person.

    Though I suppose his dual nature also fits into plenty of the story’s themes as well, as we see Octavius will have a dark side to himself, while we do get glimmers of Norman’s good side. Maybe one day we’ll get a Making Of documentary that takes a closer look at how a game’s narrative morphs throughout its development, and how certain aspects are a result of unfortunate sacrifices that have to be made.

  11. Christopher says:

    About the redemption aspect of it, I never questioned it because it seems quite in character for Peter, especially this ultra-altruistic version of him who only takes breaks from crimefighting to hand out help to the homeless. He still struggles with it quite a bit, at one point even posing the question to MJ, “When should you give up on a friend?” It’s important that he doesn’t decide to do so until the final moment of the last boss, or a lot of the emotional weight of those scenes fall flat.

  12. Agammamon says:

    What, do these security checkpoints only hassle innocent civilians and do nothing to impede the activities of enemy forces? Doesn’t that sound a little…

    Actually, that sounds totally plausible. Maybe it’s depressing, but I guess I can’t fault the story for being unrealistic here.

    TSA! T! S! A!

    They even have ‘VYPER’ teams.

  13. baud says:

    Hitler was also a big supporter of programs to help the poor, the aged, and the disabled.

    Well, considering he signed off an order for the mass murder of people with disabilities (Aktion T4), I don’t think it’s a good example. Still the rest is a good point.

    1. Ranneko says:


      That was an unfortunate example for Shamus to have tried to use.

      1. Shamus says:

        Uh, I acknowledged this exact point? It’s in parenthesis.

        From Wikipedia:

        “The Nazi social welfare provisions included old age insurance, rent supplements, unemployment and disability benefits, old-age homes and interest-free loans for married couples, along with healthcare insurance, which was not decreed mandatory until 1941.”

        The Nazi party was a ghastly machine that killed millions, but it also helped a few people. Being nice to a few people (or even a lot of people) doesn’t get you off the hook for mass murder, which is the point I was making with Martin Li.

        1. Ranneko says:

          I have been unable to find any details of what these disability benefits were other than that one line on Wikipedia.

          I can on the other hand easily find things like:

          Which details how they oppressed, forcibly sterilized and murdered disabled people. The closest thing I have found to detailing disability benefits is the health insurance that they provided.

          Including it in your example, along with stating a high level of support from Hitler, weakens your argument.

          1. Shamus says:

            You act like that link negates my point, but that’s only true if the Nazis were 100% consistent and coherent throughout the lifespan of the party, which is very much not the case. I’m fully aware that Hitler killed disabled people. I also believe he implemented (or at least supported) programs to help some disabled people. (Uh, not in that order. The early days of the party was when they were wearing the friendly mask.)

            Moreover, I gave a disclaimer there in parenthesis to head off this sort of pedantry. Then I cited a source for my facts, which you’ve casually dismissed. At this point there’s nothing left to discuss. You’re nitpicking a non-germane point and refusing to acknowledge counter-arguments, apparently because you think I’m being too soft on Hitler???

            1. Ranneko says:

              I don’t think I am refusing to acknowledge counter arguments. I just genuinely couldn’t find material on disability benefits, merely on the deliberate attempt to eradicate and sterilise people with disabilities.

              The example just induced an essay version of Story collapse. I was reading an argument about some characters not deserving redemption arcs and towards the end of the essay an analogy was drawn that completely disengaged me from it. An example which ran completely counter to my own knowledge and research (if you count visiting a concentration camp and other holocaust related things in Europe count as research).

              On finishing the essay, I agreed with baud’s comment, but then later saw your comment referring to Wikipedia. I took it as an opportunity for me to learn more about this, so that is what I tried to do. I spent some of my lunch break trying to find out about the Nazi welfare state and the only reference I could find to a disability benefits/program was that one line in Wikipedia which refers to a book I couldn’t check out. Which implies to me that the statement in the essay is an exaggeration at best, if not outright wrong.

              I’m not not upset or angry, I’m just saying that including that analogy weakened your argument rather than strengthening it. The disclaimer doesn’t actually help, because it doesn’t actually disclaim the basic argument that Hitler was a big supporter of some kind of program to help some disabled people.

              1. Taellosse says:

                This is not a hard concept to resolve. The disability support program was for people injured on the job – either as actual soldiers or working in valuable civilian professions (or, occasionally, relations of the politically powerful & well-connected). The disabled people who were subjected to eugenic sterilization & later extermination alongside other classes of “undesirable” were the congenitally disabled (or those permanently injured in ways not considered valuable to the state).

                It was certainly a recurring theme in early Nazi Party propaganda that they sought to correct the unjust treatment of Great War veterans by the Weimar Republic, and one part of that was campaign promises about instituting benefit programs for veterans who had been disabled in their service.

            2. Droid says:

              You’re nitpicking a non-germane point

              True, it’s technically austriane.

        2. Zak McKracken says:

          If the statement is referenced to a book, it becomes hard to dispute.
          I think it’s obviously difficult to accept anything good in relation to somebody who is obviously not good.

          I was going to write that the “support” for disabled people may have been a trap to get them to register to make them easier to dispatch. But after reading the German version of the article (which does not discuss ), it seems that the entire undertaking of welfare was mostly a PR trick that the NSDAP originally did not like and only grudgingly accepted once they noticed it really helped with the voters, then perverted it for their cause* after the voting thing was dealt with. Based on this, don’t think it is correct to say that Hitler was a “big supporter” of any welfare program.

          …none of which contradicts the point which Shamus was trying to make, which is that you could probably find some sufficiently narrow point of view from which any person has positive human qualities, but that that doesn’t automatically count as “redeeming qualities” in all contexts.

          * their cause: If you had the correct parents and could be expected to still contribute by either fighting or working, you get help. Otherwise … not. It’s not about being nice to people, it’s about squeezing the most use out of them.

    2. Matthew Downie says:

      That doesn’t undermine the point (if he really did support such programs) that good deeds do not make up for atrocities.
      “Hitler set up a fund to help disabled war veterans! I know there’s good in him!”
      “Um, but he also exterminated lots of disabled people…”
      “But this proves that he’s a good guy deep down! I’ll save you, Hitler! I believe in you!”

  14. Dreadjaws says:

    Regarding your complaint that the game never says the character’s name: it does if you use subtitles whenever he speaks.

  15. Zak McKracken says:

    Okay, [whoever] is evil, but he’s still murdered an order of magnitude fewer people than YOU, dickhead.

    There is more than politician at whose picture in the news I have hurled that sentence or similar.
    And for most of those, the following also applies:

    he keeps talking about his plans in terms of […] but doing things that don’t bring him any closer to that goal.

    I’m not saying that that makes Li’s characterisation any better, just that this is something that does happen IRL, quite often. Maybe the real-life script was sloppily written, too? I think I could agree with that statement.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I get the impression that the scriptwriter for Real Life is insane. Or perpetually drunk. Or there’s a different writer every day, trying to push their idea regardless of what happened in previous episodes.

      Something like that, anyway.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        That sounds plausible. On top: It’s a team (actually not even a team, just lots of people in different places) who don’t coordinate, don’t agree on anything, and are not given enough time to make anything that even approaches coherent…

        Makes you wonder how there’s still a new episode every day.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, God, the goddamn disease spreading scene. Here’s what this scene requires me to believe in order to accept it:

    – A farmaceutical company that tries to produce a cure for disease ends up creating a powerful disease instead. OK, this is plausible.
    – Oscorp created the disease, but despite Norman Osborn being basically a bad guy with good publicity, there’s no sign he ever tries to profit off it and instead is trying to make an actual cure. Far less plausible, but not out of the realm of possibility.
    – The people who designed this and know it’s deadly and epideminc just keep it around in a glass canister instead of destroying it. I guess they only made this much and then destroyed every data on it so they can’t replicate it. This is ridiculous.
    – If they have to keep it around, rather than leaving it in a lab for constant study they just carry it in a case from place to place. This is stupid.
    – The case is carried by one of the scientists in charge, its only protection a pair of handcuffs, in a city that routinely houses superpowered criminals. This is beyond idiotic.
    – Despite knowing the case contains a deadly disease, Sable and her goons shoot at it like maniacs. This is absolutely fucking retarded.
    – The canister is designed in the perfect size and shape to be used by a dispersing device created by their own company. OK, pretty logical.
    – Such device is left for exhibition in a public place while fully functional, with a charged battery, a user-friendly interface and no security system attached instead of being replaced by a non-working model, even after the canister was stolen and the possibility of using this device arose. This is mind-blowingly imbecilic.

    I’m sure I have more gripes, but I refuse to keep thinking about it. The only other thing I’m going to point out is that this is pretty much the same plot as the climax of the movie The Amazing Spider-Man. Make of that what you will. In my case, I find it lazy.

  17. Joe says:

    I didn’t notice this before, but Norman Osborn is the mayor? I wonder what his policies are. “If elected, I will set up a goblin glider factory and increase production of pumpkin bombs 1,000%.”

    1. Hector says:

      Apparently he’s more or less normal in this one. But maybe if there’s a sequel he’ll be Green Goblin.

    2. Christopher says:

      He’s already got the bombs and the glider lying around, he just hasn’t started branding them yet.

    3. Guile says:

      I’d vote for someone who promised me a glider, no lie.

  18. Nixorbo says:

    Guys, at the risk of being That Guy Who Posts the Same Thing Throughout the Thread, it’s really not Deadpool, it’s definitely a robot with a turntable. Compare with this hi-rez screenshot.

  19. Guile says:

    I feel like the story would work better if Li’s Good Guy front was dedicated to helping people hurt by Osborn’s policies and bringing suits against Osborn, like the Southern Poverty Law Center. You know, trying to work against Norman from within the system.

    Then his evil side just goes, ‘fuck it, want him to suffer’ and starts bombing the city.

  20. Decius says:

    Martin Li holds a grudge against Norman Osborne, and implements that by living well and doing good works for people that Osborne doesn’t care about.
    The demon riding him nurtures that grudge, twists Li’s perceptions to make him do strange things, and occasionally takes him over entirely to perform mass murder, because it’s perfectly okay in the modern context to portray demons in a stereotypical manner like that.

    Thus we see three different writ^h^h^h^h characters using the same body to enact their different goals.

  21. Duncan Hoge says:

    I haven’t read much of the “Brand New Day” run on Amazing Spider-Man, but I think in the comics Li has a split personality. Mr Negative knows of Li and can appear as him to do crime and harm people, and (as far as I can tell) is the dominant persona. While Li is just a nice man who has no knowledge of Negative. There’s some yin yang thing where Negative corrupts people and Li “heals” people. If you’ve seen part 5 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, it’s similar to a certain villain they face.
    I still had to wiki all of this info though.

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