While remakes and remasters are far from new in gaming, changing the look of a beloved character is still risky. When Sony debuted Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered – which comes bundled exclusively with Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Ultimate Edition on PS5 – featuring a new look for main character Peter Parker, people noticed.
Reaction to the news was less than positive. So much lament was on show from so-called fans in fact, that members of the development team received death threats and other abuse online for the decision.
According to Insomniac Games' Creative Director Bryan Intihar, the face capture for Peter Parker was changed from actor John Bubniak to model Ben Jordan, to provide a “better facial match” to voice actor Yuri Lowenthal.
Since we also saw strong reactions to the look of characters in Marvel’s Avengers, this week we ponder whether that was the right decision.
Eight years of battling bad guys and web-swinging around New York City is good for you, apparently.
While sending death threats is totally inexcusable, especially over something so trivial, I have to say that I’m not a fan of the new-look Peter Parker. I don’t really care what the guy looks like (although it is a little uncanny that he resembles Tom Holland now), but making the character appear so much younger hurts the game’s narrative.
Insomniac made a point of emphasising that their take on Peter Parker was older and more experienced than usual, albeit still in his mid-twenties. Parker’s age is a cornerstone of the story, influencing his work and personal relationships along with his stance on issues as Spider-Man.
As I understand it, the script hasn’t been reworked to match the more youthful character model, which has definite potential to cause a disconnect. Perhaps most concerningly, Peter Parker is supposed to be a mentor to Miles Morales, but now Parker just looks like one of Morales’ school friends.
Whether the decision to change the character model was purely technical as Insomniac suggests or not - and I do suspect not, as the Tom Holland resemblance is very convenient - I think it was the wrong call. Not because I prefer the old actor or I won’t adjust to a new collection of pixels, but because it doesn’t make narrative sense in Spider-Man: Remastered or moving the series forward.
Juggling superhero duties and personal relationships is probably what gave OG Parker those worry lines.
First, I’ll echo sentiments Sam and James have already put forward: threats over this sort of thing are simply out of order, even if people are upset about the changes.
I’ve still not played the original Spider-Man (it’s very much on my to-do list once I finally get my hands on the right hardware) so I don’t really have much of a stake in this debate, but having watched some comparison videos I can totally see why some fans might find the update a little jarring.
As Sam mentioned above, the new Peter Parker is very much a younger looking iteration, and doesn’t seem at all in keeping with the game’s narrative of a more mature 20-something Spider-Man.
While a visual overhaul of the character isn’t exactly game-breaking, I do have to say I prefer the original look, so I’ll probably pick up the PS4 version whenever I get around to playing the game.
Having said that, I won’t be avoiding any sequels or spin-offs if this is how Peter Parker is going to look from now on, as I’ve no doubt the best bits of the game all take place while Spidey’s wearing his mask.
It doesn't matter what Spidey looks like when his suit is this cool.
What do you think of the new-look Peter Parker? Let us know below.