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Surprising absolutely no one, Marvel has plans for more console games in the future.
First, a little discussion on licensing. Technically the X-Men, Spider-Man, and all the Avengers characters are owned by Marvel. When it comes to the films, though, all these different franchises are licensed out to different production studios.
20th Century Fox produces the X-Men movies. Sony has been in charge of the Spider-Man movies until a recent deal signified that Spider-Man could make his way into the Avengers movies. And as for the Avengers? Those films, along with Guardians of the Galaxy, are part of what’s called the “Marvel Cinemetic Universe.” They’re all produced by Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, a subsidiary of Disney, take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay.
Why does this matter? Well, while Spider-Man and X-Men have each had their share of just-okay to very-bad games, Marvel Studios has been a little picky about how they use their characters. As Courtney Holmes pointed out, “It used to be that whenever a major blockbuster movie came out you’d just wait three months and then there would be a really bad video game adaptation.” While the Marvel Studios films haven’t completely avoided this fate (see: ill-fated Hulk games), they haven’t released a console game for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth in 2012.
What they have done is license those characters out to other companies (LEGO and Disney), and made a lot of mobile games.
Understandably, people are thirsty for a beautiful, big-name, big-budget console game starring Iron Man or Captain America (at least, one that isn’t crappy—looking at you, Captain America: Super Soldier). It’s interesting, especially in comparison to what DC Comics, often considered Marvel’s competitor, has done with their game iconic central character, Batman. The Batman: Arkham games come out regularly and are generally considered to be fun, well-constructed action games.
Marvel Studios doesn’t have anything like this, and if they did it’s likely they would want something that fits neatly into their existing universe. Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both television shows produced by Marvel Studios, exist in the same shared universe as the films.
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, producer Mike Jones said that Marvel does want to make more console games, but that it’s a slow process. Understandable, given all the storylines they’re working with. He also reminded the audience that Marvel is working with Telltale Games to make a new Marvel game, which is slated for 2017.
This is really exciting because Telltale does narrative extraordinarily well, and it’s no surprise that Marvel Studios would be interested in them. It also brings some ambiguity to the audience that Marvel is gunning for with this new game. Telltale usually produces very mature games, like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Tales From The Borderlands. But they’re also making Minecraft Story Mode, and there’s no way a Minecraft game is going to end up being rated M.
It’s likely that with their existing LEGO and Disney Infinity games, Marvel would want to keep themselves on the kid-friendly side of the spectrum—maybe not as kid-centric as the aforementioned franchises, but certainly solidly family-appropriate.
This still leaves a big hole in Marvel’s repertoire, where we could see a character-driven action-adventure console game every two years. In my opinion, as much as I would love to see a Black Widow game, Iron Man would be a good fit for this.
[SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON FOLLOW]
Robert Downey’s Jr.’s contract is currently on a movie-to-movie basis, and though he’s making appearances in the next couple Marvel films, he costs a lot. The ending of Age of Ultron gave Tony Stark a good reason to quit appearing as a main member of The Avengers. If he’s not going to be completely entangled in those storylines anymore, there’s an opportunity to give him some solo adventures. Perhaps on a console near you.
What do you think? Who’s going to be the big star of Marvel’s console games? Let us know in the comments! And watch the video for the whole discussion.