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What does ‘Spider-Man 2’ even refer to anymore?

Nowadays, you gotta ask some follow-up questions

A screenshot of a Google Image Search using the phrase “Spider-Man 2” depicts images of the PS5 game Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, as well as multiple images from various eras of Spider-Man movie sequels Image: Google via Polygon
Maddy Myers has run Polygon’s games section since 2020 as deputy editor. She has worked in games journalism since 2007, at Kotaku, The Mary Sue, and the Boston Phoenix.

Last week, I was listening to an episode of a podcast in which one of the hosts referred to “the second Spider-Man,” and I had absolutely no idea what they meant. Was it the upcoming PlayStation 5 game Marvel’s Spider-Man 2? Or could it have been Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004)? They probably weren’t referring to the forgotten middle child of the movie Spider-Mans, Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), but maybe they meant Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). As the podcast went on, it finally became clear that the host was referring to an option that hadn’t even occurred to me: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023), the second movie in the Spider-Verse animated film series.

That’s too many Spider-Mans 2. Spider-Man 2s. Spiders-Man, Spider-Men, whatever! It’s too many, OK?

I have no ideas on how to fix this problem, and it’s not going to end anytime soon. Thursday at San Diego Comic-Con, there was a Spider-Man 2 panel — about the PS5 video game. But you could be excused for assuming that it was either about Across the Spider-Verse or even the MCU, despite the fact that Hollywood writers and actors are on strike and not at SDCC.

I suppose it’s remotely possible that you could’ve thought that SDCC panel was about the video game tie-in for the Sam Raimi movie Spider-Man 2, also titled Spider-Man 2 (2004). Of course, there’s also the game tie-in for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is — again, of course! — also titled The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). Or it could’ve been about the Game Boy Color game Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six (2001), or perhaps even the PlayStation title Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (also from 2001). The Game Boy game was actually the first-ever “Spider-Man 2” — unless you count comic book issues, but people would at least say “Spider-Man #2” in that situation, so that’s more or less fine.

Most of those examples are not a Spider-Man 2 that anybody would be trying to find on Google in 2023. But still, it’s a pretty goofy problem in an era of reboots and sequels for beloved characters invented decades ago. Failing an actual solution to this important societal issue, I recommend that everybody assume that the phrase “Spider-Man 2” refers to the 2001 Game Boy Color game unless explicitly told otherwise.