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The following contains spoilers for Marvel's Spider-Man.
Superhero video games throughout history have been, well, not great. However, in recent years, thanks to titles like the excellent Batman: Arkham series, that has begun to change. Now Marvel has finally gotten in on the action with its first unqualified hit of the current generation, Marvel's Spider-Man.
It's so good that it makes you want to see what Insomniac could do with other Marvel properties, and while we'll have to wait and see if this is the first game in an "expanded universe" nevermind a franchise of its own, the game does clearly make reference to the fact that Spider-Man is only part of a larger world of heroes. Here are a few of the best references we've found to some of our other favorite Marvel heroes.
There are actually multiple references to Daredevil within Marvel's Spider-Man, both Josie's Bar, a watering hole frequented by the blind hero, and Fogwell's Gym, where Jack Murdoch trained to be a boxer, can be found in the Hell's Kitchen area of the map. In addition, one of the many backpacks that Spider-Man has left throughout the city that can be retrieved contains the business card of the law firm of Nelson & Murdoch. Matt Murdoch apparently gave the card to Spider-Man in case the wall-crawler ever needed a lawyer. How the blind guy knew he was handing a card to Spider-Man is anybody's guess.
While Jessica Jones may not have been one of Marvel's most popular characters a few years ago, the Netflix series has made Alias Investigations a much more known name among non-comic book fans. If those fans play Marvel's Spider-Man, they'll find the offices of the private investigation company here as well as on television. The sign isn't much, just a piece of cardboard stuck behind the bars on the windows, but that's par for the course for the hard-drinking superpowered P.I.
Most of the villains that you fight in Marvel's Spider-Man gained their powers through technology or some sort of bizarre medical/biological accident. However, make no mistake, magic is real in Marvel's Spider-Man, for proof look no further than 177A Bleeker Street, the Sanctum Sanctorum and the home of one Doctor Stephen Strange. While most of the landmarks in the game are hard to notice just swinging around the city, this one, like Avengers Tower, is hard to miss.
In addition to finding many Marvel universe locations throughout the island of Manhatten, many real-world locations can also be found. The United Nations building exists inside Marvel's Spider-Man and nearby you'll find a couple of key embassy locations. One is the Kingdom of Symkaria, a European nation that appears from time to time in Marvel comics, the other is the Embassy of the Kingdom of Wakanda. There's no telling if King T'Challa is inside the building.
Iron Fist may be the least popular of the currently running Netflix series, though the word on Season 2 is actually decent, but Danny Rand is a billionaire, so he's not exactly going anywhere. The Rand Corporation building is another to look for when swinging through New York, though Norman Osborne is the only billionaire that plays a role in the actual story of the game.
When you have superheroes and supervillains doing battle, you can be sure there's going to be a significant amount of collateral damage. Damage Control is the company who has made it their business to clean up after all of it. Based on the size of the building, business is clearly good. Based on the amount of destruction that gets caused to New York over the course of the game, business will be staying that way for a while. Since Damage Control isn't a mainstream comic, this one might go unnoticed by many.
If there is a name that's as synonymous with Marvel as Spider-man himself, it's his co-creator, Stan Lee. We've come to expect Stan Lee cameos in all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as well as several of the TV shows. We can also add video games to the list. Early in the game, Peter and MJ meet up in one of their favorite restaurants. They used to go often as a couple, but it's been a while and the location has changed themes. However, the owner recognizes them and is glad to see them together again. The owner, of course, is Stan Lee.
While the rest of this list is pretty clear, and obvious in its references, another is a bit less so. Venom never appears in Marvel's Spider-Man, nor is there any direct reference to his existence (at least none I came across). However, at one point early in the game Spider-Man and his NYPD detective friend Yuri Watanabe are talking about him helping out the police, and Yuri asks if he has a black and white costume (to match the black and white police cars) and Spidey just sort of stops, looks at Yuri, and takes a beat. It would certainly seem to be a reference to the symbiote that eventually spawns Venom. What's not clear is whether or not those events have taken place in this universe.