Spider-Man fans are well aware that Harry Osborne is Peter Parker’s best friend. In Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Harry also has a serious illness that leads to some questionable choices on the part of his father, but just what kind of illness is it?
As players begin Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, we see an ominous bit of foreshadowing in which Harry Osborne is subjected to a mysterious (and suspiciously familiar) treatment for his illness. Later on when he first re-enters Peter’s life, he’s seen walking with a cane that he eventually abandons. This may leave players wondering just what kind of illness plagued Harry and led his father to take such drastic measures to treat him.
Harry Osborne’s Genetic Disease in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Players know that Harry is sick with something degenerative and potentially life threatening in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. We also know he’s been hidden away, telling Peter and Harry he was out of the country seeking treatment… though of course that secret involves a certain symbiote that Spider-Man fans know isn’t leading anywhere good.
The game doesn’t seem to actually name Harry’s disease, but we do have some hints. It’s implied that he has the same illness as his mother, who we learn passed away when he was in high school through a flashback. We also know that it impacts his mobility, as Harry is seen walking with a cane before revealing he doesn’t actually need it any more. Given the lengths to which Norman goes to save his son, we can also be pretty sure the illness threatens Harry’s life, especially given that his mother died from it at a relatively young age.
Beyond that, however, we’re never quite told what ails Harry at the start of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. That doesn’t mean we don’t have some guesses based on what we’ve seen in other Spider-Man stories, as well as what we learned through the first installment in the series.
Harry Osborne’s History with Illness in the Spider-Man Franchise
Though Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t directly name the illness, longtime fans will likely make the connection to the Osborn Curse. This is a genetic disease the plagues the Osborn family as featured in the movie The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
This condition, called Retroviral Hypodysplasia, is not based on any known real life illness. Rather, it’s used to explain Harry’s transformation to the Hobgoblin as he follows in his father’s footsteps. The condition is degenerative, impacting the body’s ability to function until the individual loses the ability to walk. It also causes their skin to turn green, leading to the appearance that gives the Green Goblin his name.
Given the symptoms we see in the game, some fans speculate that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a depiction of the same or a similar illness.
Other fans point out that the first Marvel Spider-Man game suggests that Harry Osborn is in fact suffering from an actual genetic condition known as Oshtoran Syndrome, which he inherited from his mother. This is a neurological condition that causes damage to a variety of essential organs and would also be consistent with the symptoms we see in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. However, the second game doesn’t appear eager to use the name of this condition and prefers to leave it up to the player’s interpretation.
Though it may not be 100% clear what exactly plagues Harry, it is clear that the illness impacts his quality of life to an extent that pushes him to want to avoid his symptoms at all costs.