Spider-Man Part 18: Jailbreak

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 6, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 53 comments

Last week I mentioned the character of Screwball and the writer’s stilted and cringey attempts to emulate Millennial shorthand and idioms. It’s interesting to compare that mess to the scene right after Grand Central Terminal where Spider-Man and MJ have an argument via texting. This exchange is bang-on. It’s not just solid from a character standpoint, but also by the way it captures the little nuances of what it means to have a fight through text messages.

There’s a moment where MJ says, “think we both had different ideas about this ‘partner’ thing”, referring to the way they decided to team up without either of them making clear what they expected from the other. She thought if they were ‘partners’ she’d be able to sneak around the hideouts of dangerous supervillains without him trying to stop her, and he thought she would just stay at home and gather information for him.

I am really impressed with Peter's ability to type while leaping around the city.
I am really impressed with Peter's ability to type while leaping around the city.

Spidey replies by shouting, “OH, YOU THINK?” at his phone, but then types a much more measured response. The whole exchange is full of little details like this that make these two characters feel genuine.

We see the entire exchange from Spider-Man’s perspective. On one hand, I kinda wish the viewpoint would shift over to MJ a few times so we could see how she’s reacting. Is she also shouting at her phone in exasperation while typing with restraint? Is she angry? Crying? Then again, not knowing what the other person is really feeling is part of the texting experience, and by trapping us in Spider-Man’s P.O.V. the writer enables us to share in his frustration and confusion.

Otto Octavius is Totally Fine

Doc, those arms are really great and not at all terrifying. Nice work.
Doc, those arms are really great and not at all terrifying. Nice work.

Peter Parker stops by the Octavius labs. Doc has made himself a set of four deadly telescoping mechanical arms with ghastly claws at the end. Pete checks the equipment and sees that the neural interface isn’t isolated to the motor control parts of his brain. It might be impacting his personality.

Terrified, Peter talks Otto into disconnecting from the neural interface until they can make it safer. This is not easy. Doc is having the time of his life with these arms. They’re strong, they’re fast, and he can control them with amazing precision. He’s got a degenerative disease that’s making it hard for him to move and get around, so these arms are incredibly liberating for him.

In the end, Doc trusts in the advice of his good friend Peter. These two have been through a lot together and it seems like Peter is the only friend he has. Doc unplugs and gives up on the robo-arms.

Then once Peter leaves, Mayor Osborn comes on the news. The Mayor tries to take indirect credit for keeping the city safe now that Spider-Man has defeated Martin the Bio-Terrorist. Otto gets pissed and plugs back in.

Oops!

Ah well. What’s the worst that could happen?

Prison Break

Remember Peter, with great power comes great punching-people-in-the-face.
Remember Peter, with great power comes great punching-people-in-the-face.

Spider-Man talks to Yuri. They both assume the crisis is over. Martin Li is off to prison, the Devil’s Breath is recovered, and Otto Octavius is a nice old man who isn’t about to lose his mind and threaten the entire city. Things are going great in New York.

Then the Sable convoy carrying Devil’s Breath is attacked and the bioweapon is stolen. Man, these Sable guys are the worst at everything.

Before we can worry about that, there’s a prison break at Rikers, so Yuri and Spider-Man have to hurry over to contain it before the entire prison population winds up loose in the city.

Before they can put a lid on that situation, they learn there’s a prison break at the RAFT, which is the supermax prison where all of Spider-Man’s super villains are storedIn the Marvel movies, the RAFT is the prison in the middle of the ocean where most of Cap’s team wound up at the end of Captain America: Civil War. Here it’s right off the mainland. Comic book lore is flexible like that.. Spider-Man arrives to find that not only are all of his foes free, but they’re all fully equipped with their gear and ready to fight.

Spider-Man swings frantically around the prison, trying to get a handle on the situation. It ends with him on top of a tower where Electro, Rhino, Vulture, Scorpion, and Martin have gathered. He does pretty good, all things considered. This section is all cutscene and no gameplay so don’t get excited and run out to buy the game thinking you’ll get to fight 5/6ths of the Sinister Six.

The Sinister Six

What a great idea for the third game in a trilogy.
What a great idea for the third game in a trilogy.

I’m not crazy about this and it reeks of publisher interference. This fight was used heavily in the marketing campaign. HEY KIDS, WE GOT THE SINISTER SIX! BUY OUR GAME AND FIGHT THE SINISTER SIX! IT’S BIG AND EPIC!

The Sinister Six are a big deal. Six powerful foes. Any one of these guys makes for a tough fight for Spider-Man, and together they seem insurmountable. Taking on the Sinister Six should be the plot of an entire game, not the B plot of the last chapter of a game. We’re here in a new Spider-Man universe where the lore has been changed and cleaned up to make the material more approachable. This is the writer’s big chance to give a fresh take on these five iconic characters, and instead these guys are basically wasted.

The problem here is that Electro, Rhino, Vulture, and Scorpion are given just enough characterization to make them seem arch and one-note. After this, you can’t turn around and give Electro a complex personality and interesting backstory like they did for Doctor Octopus in this game. You can’t give the two of them a history. By treating these guys like B-list foes, it pretty much relegates them to the position of B-list foes forever.

How is the writer supposed to make these guys interesting and threatening in the future? Contrive another escape for the entire team? It would be pretty hard to sell fans on a game where Scorpion and Electro team-up when we’ve already fought them as part of a larger group. Any sequel they make is going to be obligated to match or exceed this moment in terms of stakes, and I have no idea how you can do that. Who is Spider-Man supposed to fight in the next game? Galactus? Thanos?

Sony is Bad for Spider-Man

Whelp, the last time we had Spider-Man fight three major villains in the same movie it was a critical failure, but I'll bet people will love it if we do it AGAIN.
Whelp, the last time we had Spider-Man fight three major villains in the same movie it was a critical failure, but I'll bet people will love it if we do it AGAIN.

It’s the Spider-Man movie problems all over again. It’s like Sony is incapable of learning this lesson. They always want to burn through supervillains as quickly as possible, short-changing the foes in the process. This is one of the reasons they have to keep rebooting Spider-Man. Spider-Man 3 fell apart because they overstuffed it with villains. Amazing Spider-Man 2 fell apart because they overstuffed it with villains. X-Men 3: The Last Stand rushed right into the Dark Phoenix storyline without giving it the proper setup. They tried that same idea again this year with the movie Dark Phoenix. It just came out this week, and it looks like they got the same results. They’re obsessed with making everything BIG and EPIC, while forgetting that without the character-driven emotional core of the story, it’s just a bunch of noise.

EDIT: It has been pointed out to me that X-Man movies are FOX, not Sony. You know, this would be more forgivable if it wasn’t the 10th time I’ve made the same stupid mistake.

Sony has spent twenty years and almost a billion dollars making the same mistake over and over, and I’m sick of it. People this incompetent and artistically bankrupt do not deserve to be in charge of something as culturally significant as Spider-Man.

For the record, I can’t prove that the Sony higher-ups forced the writers to use the Sinister Six. I have no idea what went on behind the scenes. I’m just saying I think it’s amazing how many Sony endeavors suffer from the problem of too many villains and a general rush for epic-ness at the cost of character development. I have no evidence one way or the other, but I really wouldn’t be surprised to learn this problem was the result of executive meddling.

The Sinister Six is something you should do once you’ve given everyone a proper introduction. It would make sense to have it as the final game of a trilogy. Lay some groundwork first. Introduce the characters. Take your time. Tell good stories. By jumping right to the Sinister Six they’re skipping over good stories, making Spider-Man’s foes less interesting, and painting themselves into a corner so sequels are harder to make.

DOCTOR OCTOPUS!

What a great idea for the low point in the third act of the final game in a series.
What a great idea for the low point in the third act of the final game in a series.

Once Scorpion, Electro, Vulture, Rhino, and Martin are done beating Spider-Man into submission, Doctor Octopus shows up. This was his plan. He told the rest of the Sinister Six to make sure to not kill Spider-Man, because he wanted to personally warn the web-swinger to stay out of their way.

Once his warning is given, he tosses the limp and helpless Spider-Man off the tower and into the ocean, where he ends up floating face-down and not drowning somehow.

So let’s talk about Doc Ock and his plan…

The Evil Plan

Okay, now I've horribly injured my best friend, next I need to... uh. What was my plan again?
Okay, now I've horribly injured my best friend, next I need to... uh. What was my plan again?

Like I said earlier in this series, Otto knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. Which means that his plan is:

Step 1: Release all the worst foes of your best friend in the whole world.  

Step 2: Lead your best friend into a vicious ambush and beat him within an inch of his life in order to warn him to “stay out of your way”.

Step 3: Now go enact the revenge plan you actually care about.

See, Otto’s plan is to release these prisoners into the city and have them spread chaos and terror by killing people. Then he’s going to release Devil’s Breath, which could potentially kill millions more people. All of this is part of his effort to get “revenge” on Norman Osborn, who will most likely not be hurt by any of this. Doc has this massively destructive plan that involves several dangerous and unpredictable steps, and which won’t do anything to advance his overall goal of getting revenge on Norman Osborn.

Shamus, weren’t you paying attention? Otto Octavius has that neural interface driving him insane and changing his personality, so his plans don’t need to make sense!

Yeah, I get that he’s crazy. I still have objections. First off, even if he’s pure evil he’s still incredibly intelligent. He builds all of these science gizmos for his team. How is it he’s still smart enough to make these complex multi-stage plans that require mastering several fields of science, and yet he’s too stupid to notice that his plan hurts his best friend and doesn’t do anything to hurt his nemesis? This is a very selective brand of insanity.

Of course, that’s not really a problem in a comic-book world. Selective crazy isn’t anything unusual in this genre. The real problem is that we already did this plot. Somehow Otto Octavius went crazy in such  a way that he adopted the exact same nonsensical plan as Martin Li. Both of these villains decided to get revenge of Norman Osborn by killing a bunch of people who aren’t Norman Osborn and who (according to their thinking) Osborn doesn’t care about.

Shamus, Doctor Octopus is trying to discredit Osborn. People will find out that Osborn originally made Devil’s Breath and so he’ll take the blame.

The only reason people find out that Osborn made Devil’s Breath is because of a report published by MJ, and she doesn’t make that public until after Devil’s Breath is released. And Doc Ock never made any effort to tell people where it came from. His plan was to just unleash a deadly biological agent on the populace and then… hope they somehow figure out it came from Oscorp? He’s an evil scientist. Barring some pretty damning evidence, the most natural thing for everyone to assume is that the evil science man who released the deadly bioweapon is also the evil science man who invented it.

Okay men, now I need all of you to go find your best friend and beat him up for no reason.
Okay men, now I need all of you to go find your best friend and beat him up for no reason.

I think this could be fixed if the writer had just given Martin Li some other rationale for his behavior. I can accept that one villain has convoluted and needlessly destructive plans that don’t advance his goals, but it’s really weird when two villains have the exact same convoluted and needlessly destructive plans that don’t advance their goals, and we learn about them essentially back-to-back. We have two guys who are both “crazy” for different reasons yet enact the exact same plan that runs on the exact same moon logic.

We could massively improve both the Martin Li and the Doctor Octopus plots by fixing Li’s motivation so it makes more sense in terms of his stated goals, and so we don’t fight two villains with the same plan. Just say the demonOr whatever his deal is. I don’t care. compels him to create chaos and don’t ask us to accept that his plan is intended to somehow destroy Osborn.

 

Footnotes:

[1] In the Marvel movies, the RAFT is the prison in the middle of the ocean where most of Cap’s team wound up at the end of Captain America: Civil War. Here it’s right off the mainland. Comic book lore is flexible like that.

[2] Or whatever his deal is. I don’t care.



From The Archives:
 

53 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 18: Jailbreak

  1. Christopher says:

    The game is so unbalanced, where the first and second act are spent just catching up to Li and then all the plot starts happening from now on, that it must’ve been an issue where they had to cut stuff from the third act. When I looked up the writers last week I remember Wikipedia nothing that you used to fight Vulture and Electro separately, for instance, but there’s never enough time.

    Even if they had got to put in everything they wanted to, they would probably have shortchanged these guys. Which is a shame, ’cause they’re decent villains, but they aren’t that personal shit and that’s the thing these writers care the most about. Electro, Rhino, Vulture and Scorpion couldn’t also be Spidey’s dad. Although at least Vulture got a shot at that in Homecoming! I don’t feel massively more disappointed about them being relegated to pure threats and boss fights than I feel about the same happening to say, Poison Ivy, Solomon Grundy or Killer Croc in the Arkham titles. You can tell great stories with them. I don’t believe these devs can tell those stories with them in 20-hour, open world, city-treathening video game plots. Having said that, I do think you could’ve better built them up. In this game you’ve already beaten Kingpin, Shocker and Tombstone. None of them are freed, I suppose, ’cause they’re nowhere to be seen. Having Rhino or Electro be a boss earlier in the game would give you time to get to know them before the party is on. As it is, they only get a handful of lines, a setpiece and a boss fight each.

    It’s a bit early to speculate on the next game, but since you mentioned upping the ante: I feel pretty confident about which two remaining big villains are gonna be ready to rock come Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. And if they ever make a 3? Have Doc return. He’s the one villain in this game I seriously felt strongly about by they end. He’s different from the megalomaniacal Doc Ock I love, but he’s in a really solid spot for a good nemesis, and he can form another Sinister Six with classics like Mysterio, Kraven, Chameleon and Sandman no problem. Let Shocker join next time, you know.

    I’d love to see Spider-Man go up against Dr. Doom or Juggernaut at some point as well. I don’t really think it’s in the cards, but who knows, right? Maybe MJ’s gotta cover some stuff in Latveria.

  2. Wangwang says:

    Uh Shamus, X-Men movies are not from Sony. They are Fox’s. That why there’s a big deal about X-men joining the MCU now that Disney bought Fox.

    1. Shamus says:

      Damn it. Thanks for the heads up.

      Edited the post.

      The best part about Disney getting X-Men is that I’ll finally stop making this mistake.

      1. stratigo says:

        “I refuse to believe there are two companies this incompetent about super hero franchises! They must really be the same company!”

        Is what I imagine your brain does every time you make this mistake

  3. Daimbert says:

    X-Men is Fox, not Sony, isn’t it?

    And that series did the same thing with Apocalypse, as the movie had to introduce the classic X-Men of Cyclops and Jean Gray, show the death of Magneto’s family and his turn to villain from that, show Angel’s crippling, introduce Storm and Psylocke, and ALSO introduce Apocalypse and make him the big threat. For a villain that iconic, they really needed to have him be the entire focus of the movie.

  4. JDMM says:

    to notice that his plan hurts his best friend

    Eh, the thing with the insanity is it’s made him paranoid that Parker is attempting to sabotage him, it’s on one of the recordings, so you know while he has good will to Parker it’s mixed with jealousy and resentment and etc

    Anyway barring circumstances (SM:Homecoming) none of these Sinister Six were ever going to be anything and Doc Ock got the circumstances so I’m not that sad over them just being boss battles because why not? Kingpin, Osborn’s, Kraven the Hunter, Eddie Brock have gotten characterization, you can expect something from them because there’s a backstory there

    One thing that does bug me though is how they gave Scorpion Venom’s “able to ignore spider sense” ability and then gave no explanation

    1. Dave says:

      Weirder to me is how much scorpion’s fight feels like it should be a mysterio level, but the stuff in that level is excellent

      1. Hal says:

        All I got from the Scorpion hallucinations was that someone at Insomniac really, really liked the Scarecrow sequences from Arkham Asylum, and wanted to include that in their game, whatever it took.

  5. Dave says:

    Yeah, I reject the entire notion of “saving stuff for the sequel”

    Tell the best story you can right now. Why assume Insomniac is going to get to make a spider-man 3, or even want to make a spider-man 3 five years down the line? And let’s be honest, electro is not an interesting villain. In the hundreds of spider-comics he’s been in, the most interesting thing that’s happened to him is when Thor absorbed him into mjolnir then fired him into space. Vulture’s best version was spider-man homecoming. Rhino has some real character meat to play with, and scorpion has some stuff. But i think it’s fine. It’s not like they blow the top tier villains like green goblin, kraven, or even mysterio here.

    And i do think the boss fights against these foes coming up are awesome, especially the electro/vulture one. That’s the best fight in the game and it’s a blast to play.

    Now, maybe shocker should be here instead of, say, scorpion, because he was actually set up. That’s fair. And maybe this game should have weaves these villains in earlier. Also fair. But I reject the idea that we need to wait to get to the good stuff for the sake of waiting. The back third of this game is easily the most exciting, most intense, and most interesting, exactly because the sinister six feel like a real threat to spidey and New York.

    1. Syal says:

      But the best story you can tell is not the most story you can tell. Dune, for example, sets up half a dozen independent villains, and then ends with a surprise boss rush where they all show up at once and Paul defeats all of them. The story would have been better if they’d stuck with the first one or three, and then taken time with the other ones.

      If the last third of the game is the most intense and most interesting because of the new villains, wouldn’t it be better if you cut the first two acts and concentrated on these villains instead? A sequel could have done that.

      1. King Marth says:

        “Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more that can be removed.”
        -Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Terre des Hommes (1939). Notably not Antoine Lavoisier, who I thought gave this quote.

        I’m reminded of the adage that a lot of popular “best x” awards are better described as “most x” awards. Most Acting, Most Costume Design, Most Writing.

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      A couple of points of contention with your statement. I agree to tell the best story you can, right away. HOWEVER. Let’s say your first story is the Sinister Six and you have some good ideas for how that will go. Should you also try to stick Venom in, as a non-Six villain? I say no. He’s strong enough to be the main villain of a different story. And that’s where saving for the sequel comes in. Rather than pulling a Spider-Man 3 and trying to tell a Sandman/revenge story AND the Black Costume arc AND the vs. Venom arc all in one movie, some of those should be their own story and would be stronger for it with more focus. Like, black costume and vs. Venom are completely different stories! Resisting the temptation of the black costume has a completely different climax than the physical and emotional threat of Venom. Obviously the stories are connected, and in a long 40 hour game, telling both of those in a row might make sense. In a 2 hour movie though? I don’t think so.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        But you’re not deliberately cutting stuff out of your story so you still have something for the sequel.
        You’re just not trying to tell every possible story at the same time. Which means that there are more stories left when you’re done.

    3. Chad Miller says:

      It isn’t so much “save it for the sequel” as it is “tell this story when the series is ready for it”. The accusation being made here is that a large team-up isn’t suitably impressive enough until after you’ve laid the groundwork for it, which in turn is likely to require at least an installment or two to establish the individual characters.

      Like, imagine any TV show with a good plot that went on for multiple seasons. Then imagine trying to cram that same plot into a movie. Not a movie series, but an individual movie. Chances are it won’t work.

      1. The Wind King says:

        Game of Thrones: The Movie… coming 2022

    4. Dreadjaws says:

      Tell the best story you can right now.

      And is this it? You claim that a couple of these guys aren’t terribly interesting in the comics, but why would that be an excuse? This is its own universe, they could (and should) improve the writing on these characters. They certainly did a good job with Doc Ock (pre-craziness at least), nothing stops them from doing the same with the others.

      If they really wanted to tell the best story now, they’d precisely start establishing these villains before having them all join together in a fight.

    5. Taellosse says:

      The problem with that line of thinking is the REASON the Sinister Six are such a big deal in Spidey lore is because each member is a major threat to him in their own right. And it’s really hard to present that case convincingly when you’re throwing 5 of those 6 at him for the first time, as far as the player is concerned. Yes, it’s clear from context that Spider-Man has fought all of them save Doc Ock before, and if the player is already a Spidey fan, they’ll know the basic deal of all of them, and how dangerous each typically is for him on their own.

      But this is a new setting – only some of a fan’s assumptions and foreknowledge are going to apply, and anyone not super-familiar with the characters doesn’t even have that going for them.

      Yes, the last act of the game is exciting, and that opening encounter on the RAFT does some of the work to sell their collective threat. But imagine how much more impactful a battle against the Sinister Six would be if you’d spent 2 prior games taking on each of its members individually? Stick, say, Scorpion into a smaller scope side mission like they had Tombstone and Shocker already. Save Rhino, Electro, and Vulture for the next game. Keep the basic structure of the final act – where Otto goes bad, steals the Devil’s Breath, and seeks revenge against Osborn, but tweak his plan so it fits his motives better and doesn’t require so many helpers (this let’s them shift a big scope plot like this for Ock’s return later on, showing off that, as dangerous as he is with just his own abilities, he’s even worse when he can leverage others with lots of power too). I think a far better final plan for him would be to trap Norman inside his office tower while it’s still full of Oscorp employees, and try to force him to confess all his crimes under threat of Ock releasing the toxin into the air exchange system. Maybe Ock’s also found a way to subvert Mister Negative’s henchmen by hijacking the mind control (wave some technobabble at it, justified by his having assisted Osborn in Li’s origin, so he has experience with whatever it is Li’s powered by), so the tower’s full of Mr. Negative mooks keeping all the OsCorp employees in line. And Spidey has to infiltrate the place, disable the Devil’s Breath, take down all the mooks, and evacuate the building without Doc Ock noticing, then defeat Ock and save Osborn as the final battle. They could even keep parts of all that outside in the city by making elements of the process happen in other parts of the city for one reason or another.

      This way, Doctor Octopus feels like the big deal he should be without also feeling like he’s only that dangerous because he enlisted a bunch of super-powered help right off – his first villain plot is a solo affair. Then in the sequel they can pick one of the other major villains to be an emotional focal point – the more the merrier, especially if the ones they do it with all end up in the Sinister Six in game 3, because there’s personalities we actually care about in there, and maybe they’ve got overlapping but distinct motives for making common cause – which can serve as levers for Spidey maybe.

      This also gives them the room to really dig into what it would mean for a group of Spidey’s most dangerous enemies to make common cause against him, and turn both the fact of their team-up and their purpose in doing so into the narrative focal point for a game of it’s own. In act 1 he encounters some of them again individually as they escape, in act 2 he learns they’re working together and tries to figure out what they’re up to, then he has to take them all on at once, loses, and has to spend act 3 rallying and taking them all down while stopping whatever they’re up to.

      Plus, it leaves room for future games to trot them back out for other reasons. Maybe the 4th installment is when Norman finally becomes the Green Goblin, and Spidey has to team up with the Sinister Six to defeat their common enemy. But as it is, bringing the 6 back anytime soon is going to feel forced, or like a crutch (kinda how Venom and Green Goblin get overused in movies & games already).

  6. Syal says:

    This is a very selective brand of insanity.

    Well, specifically it’s Mad Science. They were so preoccupied with whether they could they didn’t stop to think if they should.

    If two villains have the same goal in succession there’s got to be some underlying third villain or something. Maybe Mr. Negative and Doc Ock both had the same off-camera colleague planting the idea in their heads. Or they both stumbled across the same Nefarious Scientific Breakthrough that led them both to the same insane conclusion, and then you get your final act where Peter Parker has a fistfight with, like, the abstract concept of Revenge Through Terrorism.

    If they’re actually just two guys with the exact same goal (or if one is inspired off-camera by the other), it’s almost as bad as time travel and alternate dimensions. “I know it looked like Spiderman solved this problem before, but we the writers have given ourselves an infinite source of it so it can never truly be solved.”

    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      But even Mad Scientists have some kind of goal.
      Sure, getting revenge by showing up at their doorstep with a giant laser dinosaur might not be practical or effective, but they’re actively pursuing their goals.
      If your Mad Scientist is just doing random stuff that has nothing to do with their character (and possibly contradicts it), then they’re just a plot device.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Or, you know, find some justification for Doc to come in contact with Mr.Negative and have the latter use his mind bending magic on the former. We could then have the newly minted Doctor Octopus occasionally struggle against it and finally have Osborn do something to push him over the edge (further cementing his character as an asshole).

  7. Hal says:

    The Six should have been worked into the story much earlier. They’re definitely hinted at, but a lot of it takes place off screen; snippets from Peter getting his backpacks, him looking at his old articles in his office.

    Here’s how I would have done it:

    You can leave in Martin Li and the Demons; I’m convinced half the reason they’re in the game is because the developers needed another tier of bad guy above the Fisk goons but below the Sable troops.

    You run into the six throughout first act. They’re causing random mayhem for their own ends. Make them some of the spontaneous crimes you fight; instead of a bunch of low-level thugs, you get into fisticuffs with these guys, but after you’ve wailed on them a bit they run off and you are left holding the pieces.

    Ratchet it up as the game progresses. Have them getting into massive street fights with the Police/Fisk goons/Demons. Culminate it with you finally catching them in a more satisfying boss fight. Then you catch Martin at GCT. Then Otto breaks everyone out and you have to do it all over again.

    The downside to all of this is that the time between “Otto loses his mind” and “Otto breaks the bad guys out of prison” is very, very short. It feels like you need much more happening in between for this stuff to percolate and for the off-screen events to work themselves out, but it just flies at you.

    1. Hector says:

      That would work if it were revealed Otto and Li were working together from the start. Then its no accident or contrivance that they share a plan. Also, some issues become non-issues; Octavius wouldn’t have planned on having to do anything directly, so he’s improvising himself and may make mistakes.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      The downside to all of this is that the time between “Otto loses his mind” and “Otto breaks the bad guys out of prison” is very, very short.

      Also the difference between ‘Peter talks him into disconnecting from the robot arms’ and ‘Octavius puts them back on and finishes going crazy’ seems strikingly abrupt. Shamus makes it sound like Peter’s literally just left the room when Otto finds an excuse and immediately puts them on again.
      Is it actually that quick?

      If it is…booooo!

      1. Hal says:

        It is. But the game later tells you that Otto has been plotting his evil for quite some time now. Basically right after Osborn pulls his funding.

  8. Nixorbo says:

    Sony is Bad for Spider-Man

    Genuinely great Spider-Man movies
    Spider-Man 2
    Into the Spiderverse

    Good Spider-Man movies
    Spider-Man

    Spider-Man movies that I never got around to watching but I’ve only heard at best middling things about
    Amazing Spider-Man

    Spider-Man movies that I never got around to watching but I’ve only heard mostly bad things about
    Amazing Spider-Man 2

    Genuinely bad Spider-Man movies
    Spider-Man 3

    I’d give them credit for batting .500.

    1. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Where’s Spider-Man Homecoming on your list? Keep in mind, Sony is still making the newest MCU Spider-Man films, they are just getting access to MCU resources, like the guidance of Kevin Feige and assets to make everything look/sound correctly.

      (Also Amazing 2 is a geniunely bad movie. And Venom is too, as a bad Spider-Man spinoff movie.)

      Speaking for myself, Homecoming belongs in the Great list and I don’t disagree with anything else there on your list.

      1. Joshua says:

        Homecoming is certainly one of the better MCU films in my opinion.

      2. Nixorbo says:

        Homecoming is my 3rd-favorite Spider-Man movie (Spiderverse > 2 > HC). I was counting *just* Sony movies.

        Good call on Venom, though, completely forgot that it was a thing.

      3. Michael says:

        I really disliked Homecoming — I bought the ticket because I wanted to see Spider-Man, not Iron Man.

  9. BlueHorus says:

    Sony is Bad for Spider-Man

    It’s not just Sony: Fox with the X-Men and Warner Bros with the DC universe have done the same, or similar: jumping straight into the enormous teamups or massive crossover films or famous comic events far too prematurely.
    YMMV naturally, but I – as someone who doesn’t read the comics – don’t give a crap about your Justice Leagues or your Crises On Infinite Earths or your galaxy-threatening purple space men with magic gloves or anything else…
    unless I already care about the characters involved.

    The Avengers movies are a neat set of side-stories* that compliment series of other films wherein characters get fully fleshed out.

    But what’s most odd (to me) is that this really, doesn’t seem complicated, and Shamus is far from the first person to point out the way this kind of thing gets mishandled.
    It’s not some arcane secret to building a shared cinematic universe – this is just basic storytelling! Try to get the audience interested BEFORE you jump in with the references and the crossover films.
    …right?

    *Well, some of them. I’m not at all attached to Age of Ultron.

  10. Karma The Alligator says:

    seem arch and one-note

    Seriously asking, what does that mean? I know one-note, but adding arch there confuses me and Google both.

    1. Matthew Downie says:

      Some definitions of arch from various dictionaries:
      Playfully roguish or mischievous
      Cunning; crafty; sly.
      Deliberately or affectedly playful and teasing
      Marked by a deliberate and often forced playfulness, irony, or impudence

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Cheers, didn’t even think of looking up arch on its own since I thought all I was going to get were architecture definitions.

    2. Syal says:

      I think it’s short for Standard Archetype character. Maybe not quite cliche but very close.

      1. Michael says:

        It’s not short for anything. It’s a word; it means what it means.

        from separate use of the prefix arch-, which is attested from late Old English (in archangel, archbishop, etc.). The prefix figured in so many derogatory uses (arch-rogue, arch-knave, etc.) that by mid-17c. it had acquired a meaning of “roguish, mischievous,” softened by 19c. to “saucy.”

        https://www.etymonline.com/word/arch

        1. Syal says:

          “Saucy and one-note” is a generally weird phrase, especially for the context of describing four characters at the same time. “Archetypical and one-note” makes more sense.

    3. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      EDIT: Nevermind, Syal already said this.

  11. I would research the writers of this game and see if they have any biff with any mayor, then make sure I don’t live in his city.

    Under “Shamus, weren’t yuou paying attention?”. “make make”

  12. Kyle Haight says:

    My head canon for explaining Martin and Otto’s plan is that Osborne is a narcissist. As such, if you want to hurt him you either get everyone to ignore him, which isn’t viable, or you humiliate him in front of his audience by making him look powerless and ineffective.

    Put whimsically, it isn’t that Osborne cares about the people of New York. It’s that Otto is *touching Osborne’s stuff* and Osborne can’t make him stop.

  13. Joshua says:

    “Otto Octavius has that neural interface driving him insane and changing his personality, so his plans don’t need to make sense!”

    This is one of my many issues with the Daenerys Face/Heel turn from GoT, the fact that the writers could say with a straight-face that “there were signs of madness all along”.

    “Madness” isn’t a good character trait for a major character in a fictional story, unless you’re telling the kind of story where the character was mad all along and was an unreliable narrator that made you rethink how much of what you saw actually happened (Fight Club, Secret Window, A Beautiful Mind, etc.). Otherwise, it’s a vague term that explains that X happened because Y had bad synapses firing in their brain and just did something odd. That might happen in real life, but stories are usually dependent on stricter thematic causality.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Quite.
      Well-written madness (and a lot of/all real-life madness) still has a sense/logic to it. There’s something the character wants, or is afraid of, or believes; some illusion or delusion or any number of things…that nonetheless make a kind of sense.
      Norman Bates (Psycho) couldn’t handle his mother’s death. Martin Walker (Spec Ops: The Line) wanted to be a hero, and couldn’t handle just how badly he fucked that up. The Narrator (Fight Club) feels powerless and emasculated, and hates his life. And so on and so on and so on.

      If a character is just doing things randomly to drive forward the plot, they’re not mad; they’re poorly written.
      Though Doc Ock might have something more to him – there was a mention of audio logs further up the comments?

      1. Christopher says:

        There’s a bit more to Doc Ock’s change. While the neural interface might be a factor, there’s a lot of stuff going on besides it. His motivation for hating Osborn, his personal history with him, his experience in mad science stuff already, and a pretty strong core philosophical difference in perspective from Spidey. Endgame spoilers here, Ock ends up trying to blame his neural interface for his turn later on to get Peter’s sympathy. While it’s clear it does have some effect from how we can literally tell in some supposed to lose-science minigames where we try fixing it, it’s difficult to pin down how much was Otto Octavius just being broken from the beginning.

        I was a little annoyed when I saw the neural interface stuff too, ’cause I don’t think the Dr. Octopus from the comics ever needed that excuse. He just got his powers(the arms were fused with him) in an accident like half the rest of the cast, and unlike Spidey he decided to use them selfishly and arrogantly. The neural interface stuff is more like… Spider-Man 2 the movie? Maybe the Ultimate comics too, I forget. It’s not my favorite ’cause it takes away from his agency, that he just is a megalomaniacal prick who uses his talents for his own benefit.

        But despite the neural interface, a lot of that “foil to Peter Parker” stuff still ends up manifesting in his character here. The turn between “I’m fine” and things going to shit might seem comically quick, but I thought it ended up working out fine because he still feels like he has ample agency and motivations to make his turn without that interface.

        None of this is to make an excuse for the two main villains both doing the exact same thing and having basically the same relationship to Peter, natch. There’s some wonky plotting going on to contrive where they wanted the story to go, and I think it feels pretty “off”. Especially when you spend so much time chasing after Mr. Negative and then Doc Ock takes over for the last like 5 or 6 missions of the game.

        1. Scampi says:

          Endgame spoilers here

          I was kind of baffled for a moment, because I thought: “Huh, there are no spoilers for Endgame here whatsoever…oh, wait…he used the original meaning of endgame.”

        2. BlueHorus says:

          I’m a bit torn on this. On the one hand, having Octavious become a villain just because the robot arms give him more power is interesting/disturbing in an ‘evil within us all’ sort of way.
          What would a normal person do if they didn’t have to worry about punishment?

          Buuuuuuuuuut, having Doc Ock talk to his robot arms is a creepy image/idea in and of itself…and fits well in a ‘Mad Science with unintended consequences’ story.

          Eh, different strokes for different folks/stories.

    2. Sartharina says:

      Danaerys has always been vindictive and arrogant. Except prior to the finale, it had been portrayed in a more heroic manner.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Through most of the series actually.
        And her actual turn to Evil made absolutely no sense. If there was any point in the last four seasons at which she wouldn’t go on a murder spree, it was the exact point at which the writers made her.

  14. The Rocketeer says:

    Shamus, you’ve overlooked yet again the most significant element of Octavius’ character, which is that he looks exactly like Mr. Ybarzabal, my freshman Biology teacher.

  15. Grampy_bone says:

    Huh. I must have missed all the marketing because the Sinister Six were a big surprise to me (really should have seen it coming though). I was quite pleased with them and thought it ramped up the action for the final act quite nicely. Then again I didn’t care that much about the plot and just liked having so many supervillains on the loose.

  16. Sartharina says:

    ,,, It occurs to me they really could have made Martin Li sort of make sense by having his grudge against Osborn be a red herring, and have it be a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation – Mr. Negative wants chaos and death because he’s a demon inhabiting a human. Martin Li hates having a demon infesting him, hates Osborn for putting it in him, but is really just trying to do the best he can in spite of the demon. Which also sort of cleans up the ‘redemption’ arc. Martin’s a good man, but he’s not in control of the atrocities Mr. Negative commits.

    And have Octopus have a different plan entirely.

  17. Redrock says:

    Huh, I liked the Doc Ock storyline so much when I played the game that I didn’t really register that the arms look way too evil and weapon-like even in their first appearance. I mean, they’ve got all those spikes and stuff. In the Raimi film they kinda sorta can look like industrial equipment at first, especially considering what they’re used for, until they go all Parseltongue on Octavius. But these just scream villain.

    I keep thinking about whether in this day and age creators of superhero reboots/adaptations should expect the audience to be familiar with the characters and premise. Does the game tell its story based on the assumption that you know where all this is going from the very beginning, or is it trying to deliver a genuine twist to an unsuspecting audience? This question has been driving me insane ever since the marketing for Spider-Man Far From Home emerged, presenting Mysterio as an enigmatic good guy.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      It depends on the kind of story the adaptation wants to tell. At minimum, the story does need to establish how the world/characters/powers/etc. work if it is the first entry. Dredd is kind of my go-to for how to tell a day-in-the-life story about a character with whom the audience may not be familiar. It doles out exposition largely through the rookie tagging along on his trip through Peach Trees. An audience surrogate is hardly a novel idea, but it’s amazing how many things can’t be bothered to give us one or if they do, clumsily handle its use.

    2. Boobah says:

      since the marketing for Spider-Man Far From Home emerged, presenting Mysterio as an enigmatic good guy.

      I’m still boggling over the number of people I’ve talked to who both knew who Mysterio was beforehand and were still willing to go with the idea that the MCU’s version really was a dimension-hopping do-gooder, rather than a crook with a penchant for VFX and misdirection.

      Not only was it greater than zero, it was an actual majority. sigh

      1. Christopher says:

        Considering the MCU version of Spidey has had a Navi in his suit and is basically Miles Morales with iron Man as his dad, Thor’s bishie magic elves have been alien troopers, the Mandarin has been an actor playing at being a terrorist for a businessman instead of a wizard, Vulture was Liz Allen’s dad etc., I wouldn’t be half surprised if their Mysterio is everything he says he is.

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