Spider-Man 2 holds back on the gore — until Kraven and Venom fight

Despite passionate romances, a little bit of body horror, and plenty of scares (Doc Ock’s surgery scene in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, anyone?Spider-Man is a superhero series that has been family-friendly for many years. Peter Parker certainly has an “Aw, shucks” energy to him, and the Spider gang is usually made up of young people trying to make their way in the world (or high school, or college). The games also go to great lengths to show you the goons you fight are ultimately unharmed — throw (or kick) someone off a building, and they will automatically get webbed to a nearby surface on their way down.

That’s why one gory moment in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Stands out. Insomniac games really, truly went for it and it is a winner.

[Ed. note: Significant Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 story spoilers to follow.]

Kraven, the villain of most games is dominant. In this version of the story, Kraven leads an organization of “Hunters” that can best be described as “half private military company, half cult.” With Insomniac taking some cues from the terrific comic Kraven’s Last Hunt, Kraven is determined to make his point, and murder will do it. Here, he’s dying, and seeking out a worthy combatant to give him an honorable death. Kraven, after a series of defeats with the likes of Sandman and Scorpion (RIP), as well as other villains (I have nothing but respect for Flint Marko), turns his attention towards Peter Parker.

The other bad guy is a scumbag. Spider-Man 2: Venom. Venom is introduced to the story as a mysterious cure for Harry Osborn’s illness. When Peter is seriously injured, Harry transfers the Venom “suit” to his friend, who is unable (or unwilling) to give it back. Peter gets extra powers from the Venom “suit” and has a very bad attitude. Harry reclaims his Venom suit and it takes full control, turning him into Venom from comics, films, and other Spider-Man-related media.

Venom screams at the camera in Spider-Man 2

Images: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment from Polygon

And that’s what brings us to the gore. Venom offers a fantastic opportunity for splashes of gore (just check out the very fun Tom Hardy movies), as everyone’s favorite gooey black symbiote just loves biting heads off. And when Kraven and Venom square off in a climactic fight, Venom’s gnarly jaws and gaping maw appear multiple times, foreshadowing the gory moment to come, in which he does the very thing he loves.

As I was watching the conclusion of the fight, with the possibility of Venom biting Kraven’s head off repeatedly hinted at, I found myself caught between optimism and cynicism: God I hope that they do itThen, There’s no WAY they do this. It happened, reader. Venom bit off Kraven’s head like an impatient child with an ice cream cone. Then I started clapping like a seal. (If you want to see it, you can search “Venom kills Kraven” on YouTube — there are already a ton of uploads of it.)

It’s a really effective splash of gore in a game that is otherwise pretty devoid of it. And it’s not just cool — it effectively communicates the total control Venom has over Harry at this point, and the threat Venom poses to both Spider-Mans and the city of New York at large. Spider-Man is not a gory series, and it doesn’t have to be. But a perfectly timed splash of gore at an important story moment can make the difference. That’s the good stuff.

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