Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is set to release in 2023, but recent theories, supplemented by an alleged Reddit leak, have potentially revealed details about the game’s key villains and some gameplay features. For the purposes of this particular theory, we’ve chosen to focus on the former. It might seem like a lock that Harry Osborn is destined to become Venom, but might developer Insomniac Games have other plans? If this supposed development source is correct, it sounds as though Venom’s story may be far more complicated than you’d expect.
Catching up on Marvel’s Spider-Man lore
For those who need a quick refresher on the (SPOILERS) ending to Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, here’s what we know: Scientist Norman Osbourne has been working diligently to find a cure for his son Harry’s genetic illness. Norman speaks to Harry, who is suspended in a tank of green fluid, and there’s a brief second where a Symbiote-like shape attaches itself to the glass. This clue, along with the 2021 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 trailer, confirms that Venom will play a major role in the upcoming game. And, at the end of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, we see that Norman has elected to free Harry from his experimental prison.
Could Peter be Venom?
While it might seem obvious that Harry could be the source of the Symbiote given that the creature is floating in a tank with him, this particular leak suggests it's actually Peter Parker who, at least temporarily, transforms into Venom in the end.
That narrative would make sense for multiple reasons, one of which being that there’s a clear path of interaction between Harry and Peter. At the start of the game, for example, Harry could presumably return from his “vacation” and reconnect with his long-lost pals. Given that setup, the Symbiote might start its journey on an agitated Harry and eventually make its way to Peter, paving the way for the described chain of events.
We also know, courtesy of a statement by Marvel creative vice president Bill Rosemann in a September 2021 This Week In Marvel podcast, that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will presumably be darker than its predecessor.
Narratively speaking, what could be darker than exploring the depths of Peter’s inadequacies and the dark events of his past? At this point in the story, both Uncle Ben and Aunt May are dead, and Parker’s girlfriend is currently globetrotting thousands of miles away. Does he blame himself for either of these tragic losses? Does he feel poorly equipped to handle a truly meaningful relationship? These plot threads are too tantalizing to ignore, and Venom is the best vehicle through which they can be explored.
Equally intriguing is what a Symbiote-fueled Peter might offer to gameplay as well. The source leak suggests players will be able to control Venom-Peter as he makes his way around New York and that the conflicted character will sport a bevy of unique abilities. If true, such a concept wouldn’t be completely foreign to PlayStation Studios, the publisher behind games like Ghost of Tsushima: a game where players control both the Samurai and ninja-like Ghost forms of its protagonist Jin Sakai.
This idea is even supported by the trailer as well, as the clip’s narrator begs to be confronted by someone equal to himself. When the unidentified voice asks, “Will one of you give me what I desire?” Venom replies “Yes, we will.” In this case, the “we” can serve multiple purposes. Venom does often refer to itself and its host with such language in other mediums such as the live-action ovies. But it could be the voice of the Symbiote suggesting that itself and Peter will provide enough of a challenge, or maybe it’s an emboldened Peter suggesting his newly powerful self and his mentee Miles will handle the dirty work. Either way, it doesn’t exactly sound like Harry is doing much heavy lifting.
The Spider-Man franchise is infamous for its fakeouts regardless of the medium in which it’s consumed. In games specifically, we’ve already seen tales initially about Mr. Negative and the Tinkerer evolve into stories about Doc Oc and Simon Kreiger respectively. In that case, initially driving fans toward Harry and instead shifting the focus to Peter seems more feasible than ever. The question is, is that the Marvel’s Spider-Man sequel you’re hoping for?