The fallout of Spider-Man’s recasting on PS5 has been swift and ugly
Upgrading visuals for a new version of a video game on a next-generation console is a standard practice, but changing the way your protagonist looks? That’s not something you see very often. And so, when Insomniac Games announced Wednesday that its upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered will have a new Peter Parker, some fans felt shocked and baffled.
After all, there was nothing wrong with the original depiction of Peter Parker in the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which was based on actor John Bubniak. But Ben Jordan, the new face model for Spidey, does look a lot more like Tom Holland, who plays the character on the big screen. This, everyone assumes, must be the reason why Insomniac made the change: to align its video game version of Spider-Man with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The change has inspired a cavalcade of comparisons, many mean-spirited, as folks joke around about an actual human being looking like some kind of knock-off of a different human being.
Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Folks are getting heated about this in some places. Over on Jordan’s announcement post on Instagram, the top and most visible comment currently reads, “I’m sorry but you’re definitely not my PS4 Spider-Man.” That thread has devolved into over 100 replies, all folks either arguing for or against Jordan’s appearance in the game. If you look at Insomniac’s replies on Twitter, many of the studio’s recent ones are attempts to explain and defend the change to fans who are confused or upset.
“This is a technically motivated decision centered around the challenges from using separate people for the model of the face and facial performance,” Insomniac responded more than once on Twitter.
Those who feel strongly about the change are now rallying around Bubniak, the original face model for Parker. On a recent Instagram post of his that does not mention Spider-Man at all, many of the top replies now voice support for Bubniak.
“You are the real peter i don’t Care you are the OG !! ” one comment reads.
“Boi, you’re the best peter parker dunno why they replaced you smh,” another says.
Meanwhile, the official trailer on the PlayStation YouTube channel detailing the tweaks for Spider-Man Remastered has racked up more than twice as many downvotes as upvotes, as of this writing. The top comment says, “I really hope there’s an option to switch back to the default face.” Many other comments are aligned with that sentiment. “Look how they massacred my boy. R.I.P PS4 Peter Parker,” another says.
Image: PlayStation/YouTube via Polygon
On Twitter, there’s currently a hashtag with a viral post that reads #BringBackBubniak.
Granted, this doesn’t mean that everyone hates the change. As always, it may just be a vocal minority that is making a highly visible fuss. And when fans care about voice actors changing in a video game, it’s no surprise they’ll care about facial tweaks, too. Still, many players are looking forward to what Jordan will bring to the table, even if they admit that it might take a little bit of an adjustment. Apparently, it was an adjustment even for the folks at Insomniac.
In a statement posted after the news broke, responding to fans’ displeasure, Spider-Man creative director Bryan Intihar of Insomniac wrote, “Heck, it even took me awhile to get used to Peter’s new look. But as we discussed the franchise’s future and moving to the PS5, it quickly became apparent that delivering even more believable-looking characters made finding a better facial match for actor Yuri Lowenthal — who we all love as Peter — a necessity.”
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered will be released alongside the PS5 on Nov. 12.
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