Spider-Man’s Take On Police Feels Out Of Touch

Spider-Man’s Take On Police Feels Out Of Touch

Spider-Man has taken on his share of street thugs and supervillains, sometimes teaming up with the police to face down foes and rescue the people of New York. While Spider-Man on PS4 undoubtedly shows Spidey’s allegiance to his community, it also casts him as a big fan of police and their tactics that sometimes conflict with that civic mindset. From cheesy detective impressions to Rikers prisoner beatdowns, Spider-Man’s uncomplicated approach to crime clashes with the reality of day to day life.

One of the earliest things you do in Spider-Man is go around activating security towers, made by Oscorp but used by the NYPD, that make it easier for Spider-Man to track crimes as they happen.

Narratively, these towers allow the police to better surveil citizens; they also give Spider-Man access to police frequencies. They’re always listening, giving out calls to car chases and telling the player about break-in attempts that Spider-Man can thwart before the crime occurs. The uncritical use of these towers struck some players, especially those who live in New York, as odd.

An NYU Game Center scholar took to Twitter to note similarities between these towers and the real world real NYC security cameras that IBM recently used to make skin-colour profiling technology.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man’s enthusiasm for the police—from his stated love of busting drug deals to his cheesy “Spider-Cop” impersonation—had my coworker Tim Rogers calling Spidey a “narc.” While I found Spider-Man as good-hearted and heroic as ever, he was also way more accepting of state power than I expected from a hero with a history of being wrongly maligned by the press and police.

Modern superhero games have trended further and further towards authoritarian extremes. Injustice 2’s core conceit hinges upon the audience believing that Superman, that all-American Kansas boy, could conceivably rise to lead a strict and heartless regime following the Joker orchestrating Lois Lane’s death. That incident, and its extremes, call to mind the reactionary shift in American politics since September 11th, 2001.

We can believe in Superman’s militarism because it reflects a 21st century historical reality. Despite Superman’s role as antagonist, the heroes facing off against him—and begrudgingly allying with him once Brainiac enters the story—share a similar authoritarian streak. This is best expressed in Batman’s disturbing “Brother Eye” surveillance system, which can spy on anyone in the world.

And while Spider-Man’s Oscorp-made, police-operated surveillance towers aren’t as extreme as Brother Eye, they are features of a similar predictive, Watchdog-esque surveillance state.

Spider-Man have never quite shared Bruce Wayne or Superman’s drive for power or control. He’s the the boy from Queens who rose to the challenge. New York based superheroes have always had a much more intimate feel than other characters.

Luke Cage isn’t just a super strong hero; he’s Harlem’s hero. Daredevil is the protector of Hell’s Kitchen. And while Spider-Man often swings around Manhattan, he still can drop in at a bodega for a sandwich in Flushing or Astoria. That street-level, community minded nature clashes with the high-tech surveillance of the game’s towers and the game’s outlook on police.

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Anyway, here’s an album of me kicking these prisoners asses with my super strength and drone.

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Police are an unimpeachable group in Spider-Man. They show no real flaws and make no mistakes. They don’t feel like an integrated part of the the community; they pepper cutscenes and sometimes walk the streets but mostly show up as an allied faction in procedurally generated crime events. Even if Spider-Man’s New York is largely a fiction, it points towards a real place.

New York is many things, but it is also the city of Eric Garner, stop-and-frisk, and Palantir. Rikers isn’t some fake pastiche location like Arkham Asylum. Real life police are a complicated presence in New York, but in Spider-Man they’re part of Spider-Man’s vigilante quest for justice, rather than members of the communities they’re supposed to protect.

This simplification extends to the game’s portrayal of the criminal justice system as well. About half way through the story, villains orchestrate a massive breakout at Rikers Island. It’s treated as a crisis so dire that Spider-Man temporarily abandons his search for a potentially pandemic-causing biological weapon to help the NYPD bust skulls and put down prisoner riots. Without fail, every convict is violent and aggressive.

In reality, New York is moving to close Rikers on a ten-year timeline on the recommendation of organisations like the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.

The majority of people incarcerated in Rikers’ are people of colour, and many are citizens waiting for their trials in a backlogged court system, often for misdemeanours and unable to pay expensive bail. In one of the most most prominent cases, 16-year-old Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers—a majority in solitary confinement—awaiting trial for the theft of a backpack.

He committed suicide two years after his release from prison.

In real life, the conditions at Rikers Island and the systems surrounding it are complex, but games like The Division and Spider-Man flatten that complexity in favour of giving you criminal enemies to overcome. The Division features “the Rykers” as an opposing force for much of the mid-game, and while its radio makes mention of how many prisoners are in jail for minor crimes like drug possession, your primary interaction is to shoot everyone.

In Spider-Man, these prisoners function as generic thugs to fight in waves. Despite being a superhero who is on the side of the people, when faced with this element of his city, Spider-Man forgets his allegiances and just enjoys beating the shit out of them.


While Spider-Man’s criminals are one-note, the game features a diverse and, I’ll admit, likable cast of supporting police officers. Spider-Man’s radio contact Yuri Watanabe is beleaguered but reliable, working with Spidey to protect as many people as possible. Miles Morales’ story hinges on the integrity and heroism of his police officer father Jefferson Davis. Watanabe and especially Davis are fun characters who I like spending time with.

Their idealism provides a powerful contrast to the cruel, destructive forces of Silver Sable and her mercenary corp, who care little for collateral damage. As they crack down, side quests open up where Spider-Man needs to rescue protestors imprisoned by Sable. In these moments, Spider-Man seems to suggest that if policing is necessary, it must be something more communal, and these standout police characters suggest such a thing might be possible.

But this can’t quite overcome the game’s tendency to paint simplistic portrayals of police as good and criminals as evil.

Spider-Man’s simple presentation of crime and policing feels tone-deaf in the modern age, when more and more people are growing aware of the class and race dynamics of policing. This isn’t to suggest that the game needs to take a break every ten minutes to infodump real world statistics, but games are released in the context of their time. We’re post Edward Snowden, living in the age Black Lives Matter.

Last week, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment. This is the world we live in and the world Spider-Man was released into. While it might be nice to escape into a world where these problems don’t exist, that is a luxury that countless people cannot afford.

Spider-Man’s portrayal of policing feels divorced from reality, to the point that it feels out of line with Spidey’s comic book heritage. Comics often speak to what’s happening in the real world. Captain America assumed the role of Nomad in 1974, the same year that Richard Nixon resigned from office in the wake of the Watergate Scandal.

The X-Men have a history of allegorical representation of minoritised and persecuted groups. Spider-Man doesn’t seem interested in reacting to the real world. My colleague Tom Ley wrote about this at Deadspin, noting that nearly every side activity involved aiding the police. This stands in contrast to games like Spider-Man 2, where Spider-Man returned as many lost balloons as he webbed up muggers.

Instead of being part of the complex life of the city, this latest Spider-Man sees a black-and-white world of cops and robbers. He aids in state surveillance, standing unquestioningly alongside an overly idealised caricature of the police. He’s still friendly, but I don’t know if he’s part of the neighbourhood now.


    • I think it’s a good point. I don’t think they’re trolling, if you read the news at all, you should know that the people of the US have a very poor relationship with their police officers and for very, very good reasons.

        • Yes some people are shot and killed in routine stops.

          Some people are killed in their own homes with no provocation.

          Must suck to be *some* people right? Who cares, doesnt’ apply to you yeah?

          • Sure. And ALL cops suffer abuse by the people they are trying to protect. ALL cops are spat at, experience being assaulted, risk being killed, and suffer terrible verbal abuse. ALL cops are called out on a day-to-day basis as being incompetent by people such as yourself, and articles like this one. The fact that *some* cops occasionally break down, have judgement lapses, or overreact with rare tragic consequences should be a given. We should be understanding and supportive of this so it happens as infrequently as possible. Give cops the support they need to do their job well. Instead many are simply armchair critics.

            This games treatment of cops is a breath of fresh air, in the current toxic climate.

            Must suck to be *all* cops right? Who cares, doesn’t apply to you yeah?

          • Actually I’ve worked extensively with the police through my career and a close friend of mine is a career police officer. Might be why I hold them to a higher standard when it comes to these things.

          • Whoop awesome, your higher standards have solved the world issues. Instead of addressing social issues that are causing the problem, or the systematic institutional issues which are not providing the needed support. Let’s blame the cop, because obviously they are the problem and are simply failing at being up to standard. I am so glad your close friend is a complete badarse that can take everything on the chin and do a bang up job everyday, constantly live positively as he is spat or shot at, never suffers doubt or anxiety. Because obviously mental health isn’t an issue in your world, or at least if someone has mental issues it must be completely their own fault, they just weren’t macho enough to be an officer meeting your high standards.

          • Hey man, are you just going to keep attacking me personally? Cos it’s a pretty shitty way to disagree. I’m not a bad person because I brave different views from you, I actually have reasons for feeling this way. But you don’t seem like you want to understand or come to any sort of shared meaning. And that’s fine. But I think it’s pretty weird that you’re so ok about this. Have you been to the US? Have you had any experience with their police? They have some really serious issues.

          • It did come across a bit personal, sorry. It was more directed at having higher standards. At the beginning of the chain you made the comment that people have a problem with “police officers” for “very, very good reasons”. To me that is complete trite, and repeating it exacerbates the problem. Saying that is simply laying blame on the person right in front of you, without considering what has brought that person to that point. Which is the business of policing, and the state.

            Words unfortunately mean an awful lot. If you had stated that people have problems with the police institution, that makes it un-personal. But you have stated that people have problems with officers and apparently officers alone. Though you weren’t nearly as bad as this article. The entire basis of this article is that a gamified security surveillance network is apparently not sufficiently “critiqued” by the game. And somehow that construes to having too positive an attitude towards “police”.

            Let’s ignore entirely the fact it is made by a corporation in the game. Nor the fact that even the real life one has absolutely nothing to do with police officers themselves and has to do with the city and state government. The police use it because they have been told to. Despite comments from you and the article, changes in the police are not some grassroots sort of movement by individual officers. It is top down government.

            So the take home I guess is. Point the flack and the distrust and the hate at the government and those actually responsible for reform. Continually making it the problem of “police officers” is never going to make things better. Many officers are corrupt, do stupid shit, and use their positions to abuse others. However many are also doing a fine job. Yet comments I have seen here simply smear everything equally, which is simply not helpful.

          • Though most are actually officers killed in the line of duty 133. That’s deaths, not shot or injured and survived.
            937 people were killed by US police. Now compare the general population against how many people are in the police forces and you will find officers are killed at a very high rate.
            But you know it’s cool to hate.

          • Since when am I hating? I’m just saying that we can talk about these things. Your stats back up my argument that there are very serious issues in policing in the US. That’s ALL I’m saying???

      • I hope you realize those very very good reasons are caused by the people themselves. You suggested others to google stuff, I think you should do the same. How it all started and came to be. Both cops and people are afraid of each other. People don’t respect cops in the US because cops are now the bad guys, for the most part. But it’s ironic this happens because people just don’t respect cops in the most mundane situations. Then it all just escalated with media helping a lot too. But yes a lot too, to blame on the cops side. more specifically who runs them and the country.

    • You may have skimmed past the part where the writer mentioned that superheroes have a history of not being shy about touching upon current social issues. I mean, I don’t fully agree with everything the writer proposes, but at least this criticism is unwarranted. Things can be entertaining and still carry a message.

  • They show no real flaws and make no mistakes.

    I guess those cops during the tutorial that were attempting to kill Spider-Man don’t count.

    • Or the numerous times Spiderman says he should leave after stopping a crime before the cops show up because they are not his best friends.

      or on a side mission where it is revealved that Fisk has men on the inside that were deliberately sabotaging the surveillance network

  • In the very first mission, they prove wrong. Not to mention when you team up with the cop for a bit (which was a fun mission) but I suppose that doesnt count as them actively being part of the community either?

  • And Batman Arkham Knight doesn’t do the same for Bruce and his quest??

    It’s a game, suspend your belief and just enjoy being able to swing around and kick criminal butt.

    • Yeah, it’s almost as if the focus of the game is fighting villains instead of dealing with problematic attitudes to and behaviour of police within the community…

    • It’s an opinion piece. Agree or disagree. Suspend your natural cynicism and see things from a different perspective, or… move on to the next cosplay article that doesn’t challenge any of your pre-existing beliefs and opinions.

      • So you shouldn’t voice an opinion about an opinion piece. But Voicing an opinion about an opinion on an opinion piece is reasonable to you?

        • It is for them because it is their opinion and only their opinion counts. They are a better person than you.

  • It’s funny, because last night I played through a scene where a put-upon Spidey accepts the thanks of a formerly-hostile police officer, saying, “Maybe you can pass the word along to your buddies, and get them to shoot at me less.”

    We never actually see police shooting at Spidey, but it’s clear from the dialogue that he’s referring to background knowledge – his status as a vigilante to be arrested (which doesn’t necessarily get a lot of priority from most cops, owing to the futility of trying and the questionable benefit). Yuri notes early on that if anyone knew she was communicating with him, she’d be fired. Spidey notes several times with exasperation that if he was a cop, he’d love to have a Spider-man around – a comment that relies on the fact that the cops DON’T love having him around. While there are never any actual in-game consequences, there are many different recorded lines that play when the cops arrive after a ‘crime’ objective, all in the same vein: ‘the cops are here, I better make myself scarce.’

    Spidey’s relationship with the cops very clearly isn’t black-and-white endorsement… but who else IS there to clean-up when he removes an imminent threat?

    That gets to the heart of what’s actually going on, here. Spider-man is the embodiment of triage. Unconcerned so much with due process and whether convictions will stick (Fisk being an exception), so much as averting imminent threats. He’s less concerned about lawful arrest without warrant than he is about yanking a gun out of the hand about to fire it. He’s less concerned about the abstract concepts of invasion of privacy than he is about the benefit his hijacking of this tool can bring him in his primary goal.

    It’s also very telling that he can brush off the fact that he’s getting shot at by police. He does note that his humour is a coping mechanism, so maybe it does get to him a bit, but the fact is: This is a power fantasy, and to Spider-man, getting shot at by police is an inconvenience instead of a dire threat that leaves him disenfranchised, powerless, and feeling unsafe in his own city. He’s got power, still. He’s practically defined by his rejection of restriction. How can he speak to the fear of authoritarian oppression, when he’s all but immune to it? He can’t. That’s not his role. It’s not meant to be. And it’s part of the conflict of his character – the fact that he still remembers where he came from, feels the tug of being ‘just some guy’, but can’t… because of the responsibility his power has conferred. He’s poor, his relationships are all messed up, he’s hopeless at keeping down a job, and is homeless, all because of this obligation. Someone tells him his efforts are appreciated and he replies, “Thanks. I really needed to hear that.” Dude’s got burdens. The fact that the populace elected authoritarian, anti-privacy leaders (much like real fucking life, thanks) is so fucking far down the list of complaints it’s no wonder it doesn’t get a mention.

    Should there have been more shown in the game of the ‘2018 in real life’ context? Maybe. There’s hints of it in the twitter-analogue, and in many of JJJ’s rants actually having a fair point to them. But how much becomes too much? How in-your-face does the wokeness need to be? Cutscenes of the prisoners who stayed in their cells, or who took the opportunity to catch up with their family before turning themselves back in after the chaos? #notallconvicts? Maybe.

    While it might be nice to escape into a world where these problems don’t exist, that is a luxury that countless people cannot afford. News flash: this IS that escape. That is the purpose of escapism. We shouldn’t have that, because… what? Guilt over privilege? That line of reasoning would be like saying we shouldn’t ever eat treats because of how many people are starving in the world. Let’s change some keywords. “It might be nice to simply phone up to have food delivered to your door, as if we were living in a world where food scarcity doesn’t exist, but this is a luxury that countless people cannot afford.” It’s absurd.

  • Worth noting for everyone, because some people get the wrong idea whenever you start questioning certain elements of games: Heather still likes Spider-Man, and the above doesn’t detract from that. She’s merely asking questions about how Spider-Man’s New York functions, and there’s a big difference between the general policing in the game outside of that initial scripted moment with the corrupt cops in the first hour.

    A simple thought exercise here is that nothing in Spider-Man’s New York auto-populated itself. Insomniac had to go through, by hand, and pop in all those NPCs, all those voice lines, code all of their behaviour, and over the last 4 years of development they made lots of choices (or no choice at all) about how that would all interact. And since they’re dealing with an IP that has such a long history as Spider-Man, that also means making choices about whether to interact or implement aspects of cultural commentary that the comics have leaned on from time to time.

    JJJ’s interesting because Insomniac deliberately chose to give him a bit of the conservative podcaster shtick. (I’m thinking more of the Alan Jones type here, but you get the idea.)

    By previous logic, it’s a superhero game. JJJ’s characterisation was totally unnecessary. So why did Insomniac go down that route?

    It doesn’t hurt to ask that question and poke and prod a little.

    • That’s fair, but it seems unfair to ignore any evidence that contradicts the argument the article’s making. Like I mentioned in the near-essay I posted, there’s plenty of examples apparently overlooked, of Spidey’s marginalization, of his conflicted attitude towards police, or the fact that a few of the villains were just as sympathetic as the authority figures – if not more so.

      It seems like it was perhaps easier for the author to generalize that the game idolizes the police than to admit that while it shows some moral conflict on the behaviour of the police, to instead argue that the game doesn’t go far enough in showing it. (Similar to the Far Cry 5 complaints, perhaps.)

      I guess the absolutism has distracted from the point.

    • I think there’s some valid points within the article, and a very valid response by @transientmind . If you do a little digging, you’ll find that it isn’t as black and white as the article does suggest.

      • Absolutely! And this is the kind of conversation that’s good to have. (Sorry for not replying directly @transientmind, was easier to keep it contained here)

    • Probably because kids today wouldn’t understand what a newspaper editor actually is, but they would understand a podcaster. In contrast a cop is still a cop, their role hasn’t become unrecognisable in the last fifty years.

    • Perhaps this article seems out of touch for me is due to a cultural gap? I imagine the cops are quite a bit more on edge in America (as opposed to Australia) given anyone could potentially have a gun.

      Also, small factual problem, but the IBM tech only allows police to search for physical attributes (like hair colour, facial hair and skin tone) not to profile. Creepy use of surveillance state tech, but it’s not bigotry.

      • I think the cultural aspect is a big part of it. There’s not that much dissonance for us, because the cops in the game behave and are treated largely the way we experience. But in the US… they’re pumping out reports of cops either killing unarmed civilians, killing pets, using excessive force, exploiting legal loopholes to wrongfully (but lawfully) seize assets, and worse, and almost always getting away without punishment or even any negative consequence. And there’s nothing the public can do – they have to accept that the cops are above the law, and that the proliferation and impact of all those bad apples are spoiling the bunch. (The part people often leave out when claiming there’s only ‘a few bad apples’.)

        The game doesn’t acknowledge any of that. Corrupt cops shoot at you in the beginning? They’re on Fisk’s payroll, and are thus black-and-white ‘bad guys’. Corrupt cops on the take are still criminals. But the cops who straight-up execute unarmed (in some cases, pleading for their lives) civilians? They’re not criminals; the department has decided that murdering unarmed civilians in those cases was lawful. They get paid leave. They’re not criminals… they’re still in the fold, and will never face true (not legal) justice. They don’t get a spidey beat-down, then arrested by the cops… they can walk free. They ARE the cops. That’s what’s never shown, not even hinted at. Marvel’s Spider-Man, the game, does not acknowledge that world of abused power and untrustworthy authority exists, that all-too-often, the police are as bad – if not worse – for civilians as criminals.

        In the game, the only time a group of armed men will point guns at and kill an unarmed civilian is when they are the bad guys. In the US, in the real world, it will be cops pulling the trigger. But we’re never going to see that in the game, never have to deal with it, never have to acknowledge it.

        Now me, I argue that’s fine. It’s a fantasy world, an escape, and Spidey’s has traditionally been one of the more light-hearted franchises. But for the people for whom oppression by cops is a raw, festering wound, it’s understandable that they hate seeing even the fictional ideal of the police elevated by a game in ways they don’t deserve.

        • You are right about this being a cultural problem. Cops are human and just as capable as being corrupt, or incompetent as any civilian. A big part of this cultural problem is it is also cyclical. A culture of civil disobedience leads to escalated police situations. Escalated police situations can lead to more force than would otherwise be necessary (lethal or non-lethal). The more escalated police situations there are, the stronger the culture of civil disobedience. The cycle could possibly be broken by more of those cops being prosecuted (I’d have to look at more individual cases to be persuaded there, in a lot of the ones I have come across [via https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings-2017/%5D where it is considered lawful, the victims were refusing to show they were unarmed and then running at the cops).

          As a side note it occurred to me that if anyone could invent an at-range metal detector, the cops could be less jumpy in those situations. The other option I have mentioned is better gun laws in America, but given it is one of the founding principles of their country, that’s a harder one to approach.

  • This article is just looking to get roasted on pew news. Your thought experiment are yours to have, but at the end of the day it’s a fictitious game to be enjoyed. If you want to deep dive then go nuts, but prepare to be criticized on that.

  • There’s another article around that may have inspired this one. Some guy on Deadspin had the hot take of “working with fictional NYPD makes me feel icky” and Philip DeFranco covered that story pretty well (first story).
    For some reason I didn’t expect the same story from the same angle to show up on Kotaku.
    I guess I gave Kotaku too much credit.

    • The X-Men have a history of allegorical representation of minoritised and persecuted groups. Spider-Man doesn’t seem interested in reacting to the real world. My colleague Tom Ley wrote about this at Deadspin, noting that nearly every side activity involved aiding the police. This stands in contrast to games like Spider-Man 2, where Spider-Man returned as many lost balloons as he webbed up muggers.

      Quote includes a link. They weren’t hiding the inspiration – but the original article is a little shorter (and perhaps better for it). This article expands on it a bit.

  • Spidey has been helping the NYPD since Spiderman has existed. Takes a special sort of jaded person to complain about that

      • No, playing the argument and not the author is the reason why we have to put up with so much of this crap.

        And it is objectively crap given the numerous examples contradicting this article supplied in the comments.

        • The examples people have given in the comments are doing exactly what I said should be done, addressing the argument made and not the person who made it. Insulting the author only undermines any criticism someone might have had. It’s too easily dismissed, it accomplishes nothing and only bumps the view count. Constructive criticism is what gets people to change, insults just signal to them that they can ignore what you wrote.

          If you really don’t want to see more articles like this, don’t reply at all. Every comment is another page view, plus community engagement, people replying to your comment, all of which determine success and the likelihood of more articles of this type appearing in future. You’ve been around long enough to have seen staff say this more than once.

          It’s fine to disagree, it’s fine to not like the way an article’s premise is presented. There are plenty of articles I don’t like too, I don’t comment on them. If I do it’ll address the problem I have with the argument, never to insult the person who wrote it.

  • Disappointed my comment got removed. Why is it any comment that disagrees with the author gets moderated/removed.

  • Last week, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and killed 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment.This is the world we live in and the world Spider-Man was released into.

    Also last week, a Covington police officer was shot in the head: https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/covington-officer-shot-in-head-is-off-ventilator-making-impressive-progress/831988428
    Another officer was shot in Georgia: https://www.theepochtimes.com/police-officer-shot-in-georgia-walmart-suspect-killed_2640788.html
    Two days ago an Omaha police officer was shot at point blank range: https://www.ketv.com/article/help-an-officer-call-reported-near-30th-laurel/23088380

    This is also the world Spider-Man was released into.

    • Those facts don’t negate the first one. People shooting at police fall under “Dog bites man” – things that are expected to happen in the larger scheme of things. Police oppose criminals and put themselves in harms way so getting shot at is expected. Police unwarranted shooting and killing of civilians is “Man bites dog” – it is outside the expected order of things and so it is shocking and disquieting when it happens. Police shouldn’t be killing civilians no matter how dangerous their job is.

      • That particular example is one of the weaker ones and I am surprised it was used at all in this case. We are talking about an off duty cop going into an apartment she thought was her own (same building, same floorplan, different floor) and shooting what she thought was a trespasser. A stronger example to choose could have been any number of police brutality stories that have come out, or at least include an on-duty cop.

        So to get a more broad look at this, we’d have to go into statistics.
        Cops killed in the line of duty appears to be going down by around 2.3 every year at a flat rate since 1974 (where the number was at 280). (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/12/28/number-officers-killed-2017-hits-nearly-50-year-low/984477001/)

        The other data seems harder to get over such a broad range. The Washington Post has been collecting this data since 2015 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/) their methodology did seem to change the next year to remove the “threat level” category, which is disappointing given it is likely the most pertinent fact. So from this, the best information they can show on a consistent level is unarmed killings, this also appears to be on the decline, but given the data is over 4 years, one of which hasn’t finished yet, it’s tough to say by how much. (94, 51, 68, 34 for years 2015 – 2018 respectively).

        While I appreciate the fact that one is too many, it seems to not be a very reasonable expectation, given that cops are humans too. It seems the best way to actually fix this issue, from looking at ours and other countries is deescalation via firearms restrictions. Something Spidey himself seems to lead through example (albeit with spider-powers).

        • No shit but it happens. There’s a slightly higher onus on cops not be murdering people as well. But it happens.

          People shouldn’t do a lot of the things that they do. Do you ever make a constructive point or does that require too much thinking?

      • Sure, I’m just saying “the world Spider-Man was released into” isn’t just one where cops are killing innocent people. Terrible things happen to civilians and police everyday. Does a fictionalized version of the world where there’s a boy who shoots webs from his hands and has super human powers really need to take a political stance?

  • While the game could have offered some perspective on this, I’m not sure it would have been better for it? I definitely can see a universe into which they added clear gray tones to Spidey’s relationship with the police and then be blasted for “trying to do too many things” and ” confusing lack of focus”. The matter is a delicate, nuanced and complex thing enough that being in the background of a bombastic “superhero stops supervillain” would be a disservice; either make it the front and centre of your plot, with as much responsibility and careful thought as you can, or don’t half-ass it at all.

    On that respect, if the game is decidedly not about the unfortunate yet painfully real issue of police being able to be corrupt, power hungry or an abusive arm of institutionalised discrimination, then I’m sort of happy letting it be a gentle characterisation of what police is /supposed to do and be/. If the theme is central to the plot, there’s lots of room to explore nuance. If not, you better have a simplified role which will not distract from the main story: cops are either good or bad, a support or a foil to the hero. And if that’s the case, I certainly prefer my fictional cops being generally good, especially in a lighthearted tale about a kid in pajamas with superpowers swinging from building to building, thwarting animal-themed baddies.

    A story that willy-nilly is making its cops villainous is just another cog on a collective conscious construct that is generally hostile towards people who, in their majority, are just well-intending human beings willing to do a very shitty yet extremely necessary job.

  • Does anyone remember the days when video games were just about having fun in a fictional world? Those were good times before everything had to carry some political message even when it’s not trying to. I don’t get why so many game journalists want to keep injecting politics into things. Why not just become a political journalist? Or would they not survive in that world so this is easier maybe?

    “Ben and Jerrys Cookies and Cream ice cream. Is cream to cookie ratio racism?!”

  • What I find funny is the cringe when a clearly overly serious adult reviewer is trying to awkwardly shoehorn a superhero and his story into his own biases. I guess the entire concept of a superhero and a ‘caped/costumed vigilante crusader’ in its inception is by definition – adolescent at best. To then over-intellectualize and awkwardly weave that into his own baggage around identity politics and toxic labelling of Spidey as some kind of ‘oppressor’ is depressing and sad. Let this blindingly obvious observation and the fact this got approved for publishing sink in…seriously Kotaku…what the hell happened to you?

    You really need to re-evaluate your relationship to games if your goal is to be called a ‘games journalist’. Clearly the magic is gone if Spidey can now be twisted into a conspirator of Big Brother – oh brother!

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