Heroes Wanted: The Marvel Video Games That Need to Happen
The wait for Spider-Man is unbearable. I’ve been reading up on and writing a lot about that game in the past few months, but the recent news that Insomniac picked ol’ web-head instead of being assigned him was interesting. It made me feel better about their approach to the character. They had free reign, though, able to pick whomever they wanted from an incredible catalog of characters, and that has me thinking. Wracking my extensive reservoir of useless comic knowledge, I wanted to think up some characters who need their own games, some that have been out of the spotlight for a generation or two, but most importantly that could generate interesting ideas and opportunities. I would be shocked if Black Panther didn’t have his own game soon after its success. As much as I would love an updated version of Hulk: Ultimate Destruction or the Punisher to get another game like he had back on the original Xbox, I think those types of games will happen eventually, so they aren’t a priority here.
The former Herald of Galactus has had a movie appearance already, a decently fun cartoon in the late 90s, and was even involved in some Infinity War rumors recently, but when it comes to video games his only real starring roles were back on the NES. That game is primarily known for being so hard that it feels like the player is being trolled. Even with having an impressive energetic soundtrack, I’m not sure it helped him be considered for any other leading roles. As much as that original outing wasn’t a disservice to the character, he has been relegated to guest spots in ensemble games or cameos, so it is time to let the Rider of the Spaceways free again. The element of space opens up a ton of visual and story possibilities and new, often unused, characters for the developers, even if they didn’t want to throw in a Guardians of the Galaxy appearance. Surfer is extremely powerful, but one meeting with Galactus could change that so that there is no risk of Superman syndrome, making him as weak or powerful as needed for the plot. This should be a trippy adventure though, with creative destructible environments, and late 70s-styled tunes to rip up the cosmos to.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I doubt we will ever see a game based solely on this property, but it certainly seems like an easy cash-in with the current show and a cameo from Clark Gregg (Coulson) or maybe even Samuel L. Jackson (Fury), but I guess anyone from the cast would be beneficial. If this game had been made in the past when the MCU was still underway, it would have been an on-rails shooter with the player controlling a blank slate of a protagonist that would barely be remembered, but now Marvel could make something more like an MMO, allowing players to create their own customized agents, going on missions with guest star heroes, and doing missions for gear and other unlockables.
Think Marvel Heroes, but with a lot more money and ambition behind it. Rather than having raids in the normal sense there would be large battleground scenarios, but instead of against other players (the Hydra expansion as a playable faction would come later) it would be an instance of Doctor Doom and an army of Doombots or the Skrulls invading, with special events being new scenarios that don’t fit within the timeline, like Civil War, World War Hulk, and House of M. Developers could have a field day with small references, tons of Marvel locations for players to play in, and a slew of costumes, vehicles, and weapons inspired by the comic pages. Wonder if we’ll be able to fly the helicarrier?
There are plenty of gritty comics characters out there that will get a title, so this one should go E for everyone and bring in a different audience that may not usually gravitate to comic based-games. Squirrel Girl’s popularity isn’t what I would call consistent, but there is certainly something endearing about her, as Doreen Green finds herself in some truly odd situations and her books can be genuinely funny. Her appearances so far have best cameos or small playable roles in stuff like Marvel Heroes, mobile games, or the Lego titles. I actually think that LEGO dev Traveller’s Tales would be a good team to handle her first adventure in the spotlight. That engine would work well, having something a bit open with her enhanced movement and speed, jumping through trees or the city and using the mechanic of controlling her many squirrels—like Tippy-Toe—to accomplish tasks and overwhelm enemies.
Her “Iron Man vs. Series battle cards” could be just that within the game, meant to give information on people or new moves. Set it during the time when Doreen was the babysitter for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, where the conflict will center on baby Danielle being kidnapped. For anyone who thinks this mutant sounds weak though and they wouldn’t want to try this out, just remember that Squirrel Girl has beaten villains like Doctor Doom, Thanos, and even heroes the caliber of Wolverine and Deadpool. She’s adorable.
Colossus and Shadowcat
I know dual character mechanics can be difficult to do, but I have always loved Peter and Kitty as a couple in the X-Men comics and I think their powers complement each other in a lot of ways. It would have been easy to just throw two mutants together with this, but these two have history, and their abilities lean towards players being able to choose if they prefer a stealthier or tank approach to handling missions, whether they are on the screen at the same time or not.
Colossus was always one of my favorites to play in the X-Men arcade game, and as long as they keep his yell from that, we are good. He would have a smaller move set but more available upgrades for his strength, armor, and various weapons of opportunity, like throwing trucks at enemies. For Pryde though, her powers lend themselves towards infiltration through phasing (with a meter based off of breath) and stealth takedowns, only using her hand-to-hand training when necessary. Her computer skills and ability to phase through electronics and short them out would make good ways to proceed through barriers that may be resistant to phasing, things that Colossus would just smash.
The story will be a big part. I’m thinking Date Night, plus an Arcade (the villain) kidnapping with some lesser-known mutant villains, which sounds like the perfect 90s-inspired scenario for the game.
This list needs a strong and sexy female lead, and Elektra is still making up for that one horrific film, so she volunteered. Most people don’t know that she was supposed to get a game based off of that movie, but it was never released, and the closest thing Frank Miller’s creation has had to her own title was a mobile game. I think Ms. Natchios deserves better; she is a badass ninja after all. I cannot think of a better genre for her to invade than that of a stealth action game, much like that of Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, but something that would rely more on shadows and strategy.
Elektra is an amazing fighter, but it is rare that she doesn’t follow her ninja training, using it to an advantage, which means not fighting fair, so there would need to be some balancing. Her signature sais are perfect for complex close combat and combos, but she will have other tricks to help her dispatch targets as well as a mixture of a grappling hook and some slick parkour moves will help players rule the rooftops. This game could see some interesting choices on killing from the player, since Elektra is a more dubious individual at times, perhaps even rewarding those who take the non-lethal route or spare a life. I’m sure The Hand and their war would be involved somehow, but there are many characters who could be players as well, and she could finally get some video game revenge on Bullseye for murdering her.
I often forget that the character has been around since 1975, but he still hasn’t managed a major role in any other media. I remember getting excited when he was referenced in the Blade television show and even more anxious when that rumor about a Netflix series surfaced, because he’s someone I have always been interested in, yet only read a handful of his stories. I know he is often compared to Batman and other characters, but he has his attitude, deep-seated issues, and his own set of unique villains. He gets to fight werewolves!
For some reason I thought about this being a Nightmare Creatures type of game—a scenario where most of the city has been turned into hairy beasts and Marc Spector is their last hope. We can have it last over several weeks in the storyline, since his strength is determined by the phase of the moon. The combat system would be important, as Moon Knight is a skilled combatant in several different arts and uses a slew of moon-shaped weapons, especially thrown ones. He’s also the type of guy who chooses to get hit and take it, hoping to be given a better opening for his attack, then trying to dodge—I blame his background as a boxer. Seems crazy, right? This hero also happens to be mentally unstable, with multiple personalities swirling around in his mind, and an Egyptian god, Khonshu (making religion a big theme, especially with his dad being Jewish), who could act as narrator or useful banter. The only thing we don’t need here is the Mooncopter.
Since I mentioned having an E-rated game earlier, it’s only fair we do something more mature, where players would be able to take control of Marvel’s most notorious reformed baddies. Thunderbolts are the team of former villains who are kept in line and used to take on the missions other heroes won’t do or that need to be kept quiet, and they are quite disposable, with no need to pardon their actions if things get out of hand. I know it sounds a lot like Suicide Squad, but I don’t see DC Comics and WB putting out a good game for them.
At the risk of promoting too much grit though, the story would follow a lot of similar themes: violence, death, betrayal, and learning to trust the teammates they’ve been thrown together with. But if there was ever a time to put in some really tough choices with known characters or a really crazy ending, it is here. The cast of characters would be the big thing, five or six somewhat known names (like how the comic uses D-list characters at times) with multiple costumes and all having different weapons and abilities, perhaps having their own levels that work to their unique mechanics best. I would love to see Taskmaster as a playable character with a Mega Man style mechanic, getting new fighting styles after he beats opponents. So many people have been in or worked with this team at one point in time, that there are a lot to choose from, but my personal team is easy: Zemo, Madame Masque, Venom, Juggernaut, Songbird, Mister X, and Radioactive Man.
I’ve never been a Hank Pym fan, and Scott Lang’s criminal past and daughter give him a ton of simple motivation. He may be the second man to have taken the mantle, but Scott has served as an Avenger in the comics and now the movies to show fans he might be the one true Ant-Man (and I don’t think they could be convinced to do Eric O’Grady). I certainly like Wasp as a character and think it would be fun to have her along for the ride, but there are a ton of opportunities to bring in other heroes and villains, weak as The Grizzly or powerful as Ultron.
The real reason anyone should want this game though is the versatility it could offer. Lang is a wiz with computers and electronics, offering an array of gadgets, hacking, or creative ways to take down enemies. There is his control of ants, using them as spies and transportation. More obvious though, his ability to shrink and take on situations virtually undetected, or grow to play a Godzilla-style game against some of Marvel’s (literal) biggest foes, not to mention changing stature during combat for the advantage. Thinking about how the size alteration would work actually makes me realize why this may be a tough challenge for a team of developers, and why we haven’t seen one yet, but it would be a ton of fun. Shrinking small enough would also give players a few sections in the subatomic, down into a completely different and creative world where the normal rules of science don’t apply. There’s so much potential here.
Okay, so Hawkeye is mostly on this list because I have wanted a Green Arrow game since the television show came out, and Clint Barton is almost as cool as Oliver Queen. I am honestly scared, though, that a quick attempt or cash-in at something like this would end up as a tap-fest for mobile or another Link’s Crossbow Training game. That would suck, because I’m a huge fan of using the bow as a weapon in most games, and titles like the newer Tomb Raider entries and Horizon: Zero Dawn have shown me that archery combat with some small flurries of melee can be done quite well.
I would imagine this game could play like those, with a few elements from the Arkham games thrown in for some fulfilling combat, on top of a wide arsenal of trick arrows for various situations. Clint has a long history to be pulled from and has fought all of the key players at one point or another, and that means that he can do missions as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Avenger, or just on his own to settle a score or two (give me one with him as Ronin, please). I was trying to think who I would get to do the voice acting for Hawkeye and couldn’t come up with anything I liked, and I know some people don’t like Jeremy Renner’s version. This is a character that can go from extremely serious to sarcastic with expert comedic timing seamlessly, at least when he had his own series, and that is a hero I think players would fall in love with.
Heroes for Hire
Daredevil almost had his own game (no, I don’t count the GBA title based off of the Ben Affleck movie) that would have seen him rail-grinding for movement, so maybe it is better that didn’t happen. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones join their Netflix compatriots as appearing in several Marvel game titles, sometimes playable, but never getting a chance to flex some actual muscle on the street. It would be easy to set these heroes up in an intricate, layered storyline involving a little mystery and mysticism across the different levels of the criminal underworld, especially since they are “for hire” to anyone who needs help.
With all four personalities, the game should utilize each for their powers and personality traits, all playing differently of course. I see Daredevil as the best all around character with good movement through his billy club and parkour while using his senses to scout and find targets, Jessica Jones as the powerhouse with high damage and low defense (maybe even give her flight back), Luke Cage will be the tank with lower damage while able to take on more enemies, and Iron Fist will be the versatile character, being able to change his play style with various chi maneuvers. That would be a lot to work out, but it’d be fun.
More importantly, I’m thinking an open world city like in Sleeping Dogs, compact but full, with a ton of activities. Crime scenes to investigate and cases to prosecute for Matt Murdock, fight clubs and random acts of violence to stop for Luke and Iron Fist, as well as new clients and investigations for Jessica, assuming she ever leaves the bar. Sure Rand is rich, but it would be neat to build up the Heroes for Hire business as well, granting upgrades are access to more areas of town, while switching characters would work like GTA V. The shows are a hit, but a game could bring everyone together better than Defenders did.
I know he had a few adventures in the past on the PlayStation, PS2, and Game Boy Color, but those were all quite forgettable and I need Wesley Snipes to do the voice so I can get a substitute for a fourth movie. Vampires may not be quite as popular as they were in recent years, but I think this title could give players a reason to hunt again.
Howard the Duck
Don’t focus on the movie! It wasn’t as bad as people say anyway. Howard’s adventure could be a zany one, similar to the Deadpool game. He did have his own title, on the Commodore 64 back when the movie released, but the master of quack-fu deserves so much more. Just hand him a rocket launcher and keep the duck tits out of it so he can get a bigger role in the next Guardians of the Galaxy sequel.