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The MCU is floundering, but Marvel’s video game universe is flourishing

Published Oct 27th, 2023 7:08PM EDT
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 connects to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Image: Insomniac Games

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Earlier this week, Sony announced that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 sold more than 2.5 million copies in its first 24 hours of availability. That makes it the fastest-selling PlayStation Studios game of all time, topping the likes of God of War Ragnarök and The Last of Us Part 2. But it’s more than just record-breaking sales, though, as the game was also universally praised by critics, racking up a 90 Metascore on Metacritic. All of that success got me thinking — is the “MVGU” (Marvel video game universe) on the verge of overtaking the MCU?

To date, developer Insomniac Games has released three Marvel games: Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Spider-Man 2. At the PlayStation Showcase two years ago, the studio also revealed it was working on a Wolverine game. We have not heard much about it since, but in a recent interview, Spider-Man 2 director Bryan Intihar shared a major revelation: Wolverine takes place in the same reality as the Spider-Man games.

“They’re all 1048,” Intihar said, then added, laughing. “I think I got that right.”

Marvel confirmed in the comics that Insomniac’s Spider-Man games take place on Earth-1048. There was also a brief crossover with the PlayStation games in Sony’s animated sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Insomniac returned the favor with the appearance of the Spider-Verse portal in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, deepening the connection.

As fun as these crossovers can be, one big reason that Insomniac’s Spider-Man trilogy has been such a hit is because it’s a fresh take on familiar characters that doesn’t rely too heavily (or at all) on a larger storyline or the limitless Marvel multiverse.

Insomniac is well aware of this, which is why the Spider-Man team isn’t interfering with the work of the Wolverine team. Here’s what Intihar told IGN in a separate interview when asked if there were future plans to tease Wolverine in Spider-Man games:

We wouldn’t be true Marvel fans if we didn’t have discussions like that, but I think for us it was, ‘Hey, working on these games is really hard. They’re really complicated.’ And I think it was just like, ‘Hey, let’s let the Wolverine team cook.’ Let’s let them cook and if something ever happens in the future, great. But right, now let’s just make sure that let’s not box anybody into a corner and let’s just make sure that they have a clear runway to make the best Wolverine possible and it’s going to be awesome. So I’m really excited about it. But we wouldn’t be like Marvel fans if we didn’t talk about things.

There’s no chance Intihar was throwing shade at Marvel Studios with his comments, but “boxing into a corner” might be the best way to describe what the MCU has done to so many filmmakers. Every movie and every TV show has to serve the larger MCU and the ongoing Multiverse Saga, and the storytelling has suffered greatly as a result.

Meanwhile, the Avengers are nowhere to be found in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. More importantly, we don’t care where they are. This is a story about Peter Parker and Miles Morales, and though there are plenty of hints about where the series and Earth-1048 as a whole might go from here, it doesn’t consume the entire game.

Honestly, Marvel Studios could learn a thing or two from the Insomniac games. I can assure you there are now plenty of fans who are even more excited to see what happens in Earth-1048 going forward than the MCU’s Earth-616 (or Earth-199999, depending on who you ask).

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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