Marvel has gone from big name to absolute juggernaut in the last 20 years. Dominating the box office with the MCU, taking over people’s living rooms with streaming releases on Disney+, and continuing to build upon their legacy as one of the forefathers of comics, the comic book giant cannot be stopped.
One of the massive company's branches that has only recently stepped into the spotlight though is Marvel Games.
The dedicated digital team has been tasked with finding talented developers and pairing them with IP to produce the best product possible. While in a different time, publishers had exclusive rights to various characters from the comics giant, now anyone can pitch their super-powered game with the hope of catching the eye of mainstay Bill Rosemann and his Marvel Games team.
This new approach for Marvel on the interactive front has yielded stellar results. Projects like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Ultimate Alliance 3 have garnered critical acclaim, and this trend does not look like it is going to stop any time soon.
Just this year, Spider-Man studio Insomniac announced a Wolverine game as well as a sequel to their 2018 Spidey title, Square-Enix has Guardians of the Galaxy coming this fall, and strategy game legends Firaxis Games gets to share its take on the Marvel universe in Marvel’s Midnight Suns next March.
The possibilities seem to be endless as Marvel Games continues to look upon the digital horizon. So (in case any of the suits at Disney are looking), here are seven Marvel heroes that deserve the modern video game treatment.
Deadpool is no stranger to the world of video games, having appeared as a playable character in titles such as Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Ultimate Alliance 1 & 2. Back in 2013, the Merc with a Mouth even starred in his own game developed by High Moon Studios and released to somewhat positive reviews.
However, while that PS3 and Xbox 360 title did capture the essence of Deadpool, it only waded into the waters of the potential for a project such as this.
A modern Deadpool game could be so much fun. Even though funny video games can be hit or miss, projects in recent years such as the Ubisoft South Park RPGs have proven that a hilarious and well-designed video game can work.
A Marvel Games-era Deadpool title could be something remarkably special. From a gameplay perspective, it’s easy to imagine something that mimics the stylings/combat of the Batman Arkham series with the hero traversing through levels, taking on foes in fast-paced action.
What is built upon that foundation, though, could be anything. Deadpool is known for fourth-wall-breaking gags and hilarious yet oddly dark soliloquies. This could result in bizarre instances of gameplay where a giant boss battle culminates in a zany rhythm game akin to Dance Dance Revolution, or a carnal encounter playing out by way of a match-3 puzzle minigame. The possibilities are truly endless with a character like this.
This game could provide yet another platform for Deadpool to shine, while also using inside jokes and references to poke fun at the gaming industry as a whole.
While the Blade movie featuring Mahershala Ali has the MCU faithful waiting with bated breath for the vampire hunter's return, a Blade video game could provide those fans another place to take in the world of Marvel after dark.
Blade is a hero that surely deserves a gaming counterpart, especially with his name coming back into the zeitgeist with the upcoming film. And while it would be easy to envision Eric Brooks taking on fanged foes in a typical third-person action title à la God of War, what will be pitched here is something wholly different.
Blade needs an over-the-top Platinum Games-style action game. Think the limb-chopping and curb-stomping of something like Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, but with a Marvel coat of paint.
Marvel Games has a proven track record of greenlighting some out-of-the-box pitches for their IP (see Marvel’s Midnight Suns), so why not pull out the blades and go crazy on something like this?
The Devil May Cry series is basically a Blade game already, where players take on the demons of the underworld with bombastic combos. So grab the trench coat, a pair of blacked-out Oakleys, and let Platinum give Blade the game he deserves.
Oddly enough, a Daredevil game actually almost happened back with the Xbox, PS2, and PC. The project was ultimately canned with only a Gameboy Advance title seeing the light of day. Footage of the game showed off nuggets of something that would work perfectly in the modern day. And that is the pitch being made here to Marvel Games.
If Marvel ever wanted their own Batman: Arkham game, this would be the way to do it. Think Matt Murdock traversing an open world Hell’s Kitchen, taking down thugs, and solving the mysteries of New York’s underworld.
Of course, mechanically, this would share a couple of similarities to Marvel’s Spider-Man but a lot more grounded. Combat could be gritty with the player feeling the impact of each and every punch thrown, and the story could tackle darker themes that Marvel just would not touch in a Spider-Man title.
Also, developers could easily make creative use of Daredevil’s lack of sight here. A “detective mode” has become somewhat of a standard in modern action games like The Last of Us and the Tomb Raider reboot, but a title centered on the Man Without Fear would potentially be the only one in which this supernatural ability actually makes sense in-universe.
And players could be treated to an intertwined narrative that tackles both Daredevil on the streets and Matt Murdock in the courtroom. Maybe even wrapping in other characters tangentially related to the Scarlet Swashbuckler such as The Punisher and Elektra. This could be the time to tell a deep, epic, and mature narrative all wrapped in a Daredevil package.
Jessica Jones may not be amongst the names on the Marvel Mt. Rushmore, but she could make a pretty spectacular video game protagonist. Now, this pitch is going to be a little out of the ordinary and will have some fans humming and hawing, but don’t worry.
Give Deck Nine (known for Life is Strange) a Jessica Jones detective game. This would focus less on the action of being a superhero and more on conversation and narrative choice. Over the past six or seven years Deck Nine has proven they can make spectacular story-based adventures with hints of superhero-like powers in there, so why not give them the real thing?
A title such as this has already been shown to be viable in the marketplace in Batman: The Telltale Series, so what is stopping the Big M from dipping their toes in the very same water? A Jessica Jones-centered adventure could focus more on conversation and detective work than delivering super-powered punches.
Not to say there would be no action, but said action would be broken up with full-on crime scene investigations, questioning witnesses with fleshed-out dialogue trees, and maybe even relationship-building mechanics.
Now is the time to experiment and take creative risks, and doing it with a character such as Jessica Jones would be perfect!
For years, the Scarlet Witch has been a fan-favorite Marvel character; however, that popularity has never before reached the fever pitch that it is at right now. Wanda Maximoff has become one of the biggest stars in the MCU, and thus one of the biggest names in pop culture. So it would only make sense that Marvel give Ms. Maximoff her own game.
As to who would make sense to take on such a title? How about Remedy Entertainment! Yes, the Alan Wake and Control studio would make something spectacular with the famed Marvel mutant. Wanda’s powerset is one that is unique in the Marvel universe, but Remedy has the resume to show that they could take it on.
It is not hard to see how Control could serve as a proof of concept for what a Scarlet Witch game could look like. The Hiss-powered abilities seen in the 2019 title could very easily be translated into something resembling that of Wanda’s.
This could also be the perfect vessel for more of the emotional and heartstring-pulling storytelling found in something like WandaVision and the House of M comic story. Remedy are masters at blending stellar action and grounded narrative, something that is needed in anything headlined by the young sorceress.
An X-Men RPG just seems like an inevitability at this point. While Harry Potter fans eagerly await the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy, this could be a similarly massive RPG for comic book lovers.
Players could take up the role of a new mutant at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, exploring the school grounds and surrounding area, taking classes taught by iconic X-Men heroes, and doing battle with threats to both human and mutant-kind.
Mechanically this would play like a beautiful mashup of The Witcher and Persona 5, with the action playing out in real-time, using special mutant abilities; but when the dust settles and the school bell rings, players have to divide their time amongst a variety of activities, all meant to upgrade the hero’s skills for the next battle or develop relationships with other characters.
So far, Batman and Spider-Man have both received video game love letters to their source material. This could be that for the X-Men universe, tying in outfits, characters, and small callbacks to X-Men comics of yore.
An X-Men game needs to (and probably will) happen - it’s as simple as that.
And last but certainly not least, it has to be Marvel’s boy in blue - Captain America. Along with Spidey, Wolverine, and Iron Man, Cap sits atop Marvel’s Mount Olympus, so it would only make sense for him to get a digital escapade to call his own. Mr. Rogers has appeared in titles like Marvel’s Avengers and the Ultimate Alliance games, but this would be his own game unto himself.
The Captain America pitch that is going to be made right here and now is for the team over at Naughty Dog to tackle the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan. The Uncharted and Last of Us studio has completed work on The Last of Us Part 2 and has surely already begun chipping away at some new idea, so why couldn’t that idea be Cap?
Neil Druckmann and his team at the dog house have showcased that they can take on both very real storytelling moments and explosive blockbuster set pieces. These two things are crucial ingredients when tackling any Captain America project.
Action-wise this would play very differently than anything the Dogs have taken on before, swapping the artillery and ammo packs of Nathan Drake with the iconic shield of Steve Rogers. Sure, the ability to get into a WWII era shootout could be there, but why would anybody want to use a Colt 1911 when they could be ping-ponging Cap’s star-emblazoned sidearm off of foes.
If Naughty Dog could make that shield feel as satisfying as their PlayStation brethren Sony Santa Monica made the Leviathan Axe in God of War, then Marvel would be fools not to greenlight this pitch on the spot.
These ideas may be a bit of a pipe dream at the moment, but it is an exciting time to be a Marvel fan nonetheless, especially one with a love for games. After years stuck in the doldrums of licensed game hell, a superhero gaming renaissance looks to be on the horizon.
Bill Rosemann and the Marvel Games team are seemingly in the right headspace when listening to these pitches, and, for the most part, it worked swimmingly for them. Gamers can rest assured that whether these heroes ever get their time in the digital sun, the future of Marvel on the video game front is in good hands.