2018’s Spider-Man PS4 Game Called All Of This
Before I get into it, SPOILERS for Marvel's Spider-Man that was released on the PS4 back in 2018.
With that out of the way, holy hell, did that game call its shot. In case you're fuzzy on the story's details, it moves at a fun, brisk Spider-Man-y pace for two acts full of drama laced with hijinks, and then goes full post-apocalyptic in the third act. A pathogen created by Oscorp called Devil's Breath is released, and the entire island of Manhattan goes into the kind of fascistic military lockdown that the AstroTurfed dipshit quarantine protesters think we're under in real life, but aren't.
After Doc Ock unleashes the virus over a crowded Time's Square, the story jumps ahead in time to find a city in full lockdown. Kind of like our reality, just with Silver Sable's private military force exerting its iron-fisted will on the citizens. Insomniac games got the lockdown part right, and American cops, private or not, are usually dicks who are itching to body slam a person. That one wasn't much of a leap.
In this version of the Spider-Man mythos, Norman Osborn is the same noted businessman he is in the comics, but he's also the mayor of New York City. Positioning a classic villainous business person as a powerful politician is a classic comic book move to very subtly suggesting that politicians are corrupt. When billionaire Mayor Osborne can't contain the release of Devil's Breath and privatized solutions don't work, he blames it all on Spider-Man. If you've paid attention to the news of late, you might have caught Trump throwing everyone under the bus for the Covid-19 pandemic, from Obama to China to the World Health Organization. If this game had been released this month, a bunch of conservative Twitter dweebs with Neo-Nazi tweets hiding in their Likes would say that games shouldn't be political. Besides, the only good games are the ones where politically neutral American soldiers shoot bazookas at foreigners.
People contaminated by Devil's Breath exhibit flu-like symptoms. It can spread so easily that signs across the city remind New Yorkers to "Stay Safe, Stay Home" because while the virus is highly contagious, sometimes "symptoms may not be evident" in some people. If all of that sounds familiar, it's because life thinks a cheap reference to a video game counts is a solid joke. As if none of this was foreboding enough, good old sweet, indestructible Aunt May is working the front lines, at the F.E.A.S.T. homeless shelter she runs, where she contracts the virus and dies.
If this game was coming out now, this is the point where you'd tell the screen to fuck off for being as ham-fisted an attempt at social commentary as a Hallmark movie. The only significant difference is that their blowhard podcaster actually becomes a voice of compassion and social responsibility:
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Catch him on the "In Broad Daylight" podcast with Cracked alums Adam Tod Brown and Ian Fortey! Check out his contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. Listen to the first episode on Youtube!
Top Image: Insomniac Games/Sony/TheBoySawyer/Reddit