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

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.