It’s often said that a superhero is only as good as their villains, and it’s hard to think of many superheroes that have a rogues gallery as good as that of Spider-Man. Insomniac have used this lineup of villains to great effect in their own take on the Spidey universe so far, with the likes of Doctor Octopus, Mister Negative, Electro, Rhino, and many more making strong appearances in 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man.
It’s exciting to think about what villains we might be facing off against in the sequel- but before that, there’s something else to look forward to as well. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales launches this November, and though its Miles in the driving seat this time around, we’re still curious about who the bad guys in this story will be.
So far, Insomniac have revealed a fair bit of details on the game’s narrative setup. Like any good Spider-Man story, it looks like this game’s story will put plenty of emphasis not only on Miles as Spider-Man, but also on Miles as, well, Miles (or at least we hope it does)- just as the 2018 game did with Peter Parker. As far as Miles is concerned, he’s been training with Peter for a year and has fully stepped into the role of Spider-Man. His mom is campaigning for City Council, which means he’s got plenty going on in his personal life.
But, of course, being Spider-Man (or a Spider-Man, at least), he doesn’t have too much time for a personal life. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is going to see Miles encountering his first real challenge as New York’s new protector, which will come in the shape of a gang war between Roxxon Corporation and a high-tech criminal organization known as the Underground, who are led by an engineering and mechanical genius known as the Tinkerer.
These are names that will be familiar to many Spidey fans- Roxxon and the Tinkerer have appeared as antagonists in many Spider-Man comics and stories. Roxxon Corporation, in fact, has often come up against other Marvel superheroes as well, including the likes of Captain America and Iron Man. The company has been notorious for its single-minded efforts to basically increase their profits- for which they seem to stop at nothing, often even resorting to backing or outright facilitating large scale violence.
In the comics, Roxxon Corporation has at various points had a sample of the Venom Symbiote, worked with Doctor Octopus, and caused plenty of nuisance for Spider-Man. Though Roxxon Energy Corporation didn’t have an outright role in the story of Marvel’s Spider-Man, the company is obviously a known quantity in this universe- in fact, you can even see their logo and their own building in Manhattan.
The question, of course, is- how much of an emphasis will Marve’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ story place on the corporation? With it and the Tinkerer both being set up as antagonists, will the latter end up taking more of the limelight, or will the story delve deeper into the shady dealings of Roxxon as well? If it does, it could find ways to rope in some other villains in interesting ways, perhaps even set up more villains still for appearances in future games.
Oh, and speaking of the Tinkerer, he has historically been one of Spider-Man’s more interesting villains. What’s interesting about him is the fact that he doesn’t really have any real superpowers. All he works with is his ingenuity when it comes to engineering and mechanics. The Tinkerer (or Phineas Mason) is a master inventor, and he’s often provided deadly weapons to various villains and supervillains from across the Marvel universe.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ take on the Tinkerer looks to be significantly different from how he’s usually been portrayed, however. For starters, Insomniac’s Tinkerer is a female version of the character, and given that she’s leading an army of criminals equipped with high-tech weaponry, she is also clearly taking on a much more active antagonistic role than the Tinkerer usually does.
However, it does seem like there is some reference from Marvel’s own universe that Insomniac might be taking cues from for their take on the Tinkerer. In Marvel’s Ultimate Marvel imprint from the early 2000s, the character was overhauled quite significantly. For instance, Elijah Stern, not Phineas Mason, is the Ultimate version of the Tinkerer. Stern is a former employee of the Roxxon Corporation, goes after his former boss, Donald Roxxon, to get revenge for getting fired, and also hired other villains like Vulture and Killer Shrike in the process.
Stern eventually winds up being forced to work for Nick Fury at S.H.I.E.L.D., but he still finds ways to go about his villainous ways. Not only does he try to use his Spider Slayer robots to kill Spider-Man, when the Green Goblin (aka Norman Osborn) approaches him to make new weapons for the Sinister Six, Stern agrees. Eventually Stern is attacked by the Prowler, who breaks into his lab to interrogate him about Norman Osborn, and then kills him. The Prowler, of course, is Aaron Davis, the uncle of none other than Miles Morales.
The Ultimate version of the Tinkerer has ties to Roxxon Corporation and ties to Miles Morales’ version of Spider-Man, so it’s easy to see why we’re assuming Insomniac may have turned here for inspiration. The whole central conflict of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is centred around this gang war between Roxxon and an army led by the Tinkerer- or that’s what triggers it, at least. It will, however, be curious to see how closely this sticks to the source material.
Clearly, the Tinkerer in this game, a female version of the character is neither Phineas Mason nor Elijah Stern, so it’s hard to gauge just how much Insomniac are going to tap into stories from the comics, and how many new twists of their own they’re going to introduce. Given Insomniac’s track record with portraying Spider-Man characters (and villains in particular), we can’t help but be optimistic about the Tinkerer’s role in the upcoming game.
If there’s one thing that’s been abundantly clear since the fay Marvel’s Spider-Man came out over two years ago, it’s that Insomniac are building their own larger Spider-Man universe, and are setting up various stories, characters, and arcs that will play out in future games. There was plenty of that going on in the 2018 game and even its expansions, and we’re hoping the same will be true for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. With the Tinkerer and Roxxon Corporation, it certainly seems Insomniac have the tools to do just that.