The big game of the week is Injustice 2, wherein various characters of the DC universe fight each other in an alternate universe where Superman has decided that fascism is so hot right now and goes on to control Earth. The sequel so far has received great praise, and as is always the case with the ‘Big Two’ comics publishers, there are those out there wondering if distinguished competition Marvel would try their hand at such a concept with their large ensemble of characters. In fact, some on Twinfinite believe it’s the best move for Marvel.
However, as much of a tempting idea that must be, I can’t really find myself thinking this is a thing the House of Ideas can do. In fact, in all honesty, I’d go so far as to say that this is something that they should never do.
Now look, this isn’t one of those company bias things. I like both Marvel and DC and accept that both of these companies have their problems, like all giant media conglomerates do. But with that in mind, DC had one thing over their rivals that made the original Injustice such a hit: Superman. Remember, 2013 was the same year that Man of Steel came out, and it was a movie that, for lack of a better term, didn’t endear everyone to Big Blue. Having the game release not too long before the film ended up working out more in the former’s case than you’d think. High Councillor Superman may have melted a 15-year-old’s brain, but for many, it was enough to be able to take payback as Shazam or as the “real,” Good Superman from the other universe. MoS Superman was one that couldn’t be waved off as an evil version from a bad universe, he is currently the definitive version of that character for however long Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill are contracted into this universe, and that hasn’t exactly garnered a lot of love from a lot of people.
Injustice and the DC movies are weirdly linked in that the tepid (at best) reception to the films has ended up making the game look better in comparison. There are many out there that consider NetherRealm’s take on the DC characters to be more accurate and right than recent film fares like Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad, and it’s a sentiment that’ll likely stick for as long as both enterprises are around. Sure, the games and their tie-in comics have great and well-told stories in their own right, but it’s undeniable that their status got an extra boost from the films not being all that good themselves. The chips just so happened to lie on NetherRealm’s side with that one, and it’s not really something that can be replicated with Marvel. They’re largely batting home runs, but DC was in a position seen by many that pretty much anything over the films (or the nearly as maligned New 52 comics) was an improvement.
The other thing that ended up working in DC’s favor with Injustice is that DC’s heroes don’t fight remotely as often as Marvel’s do. Sure, they have their disputes and arguments, but their clashes against one another don’t happen nearly every year and halt pretty much every comic in their tracks. Heroes fighting heroes has become pretty much the norm in the Marvel world to the point that the significance of these events has pretty much lost all meaning. There’s been the 2007 Civil War event and last year’s sequel, 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men, 2015’s Secret Wars, and last year’s Inhumans vs. X-Men. Hell, the best possible version of heroes fighting each other for the company was arguably Captain America: Civil War and even that had many questioning the film’s internal logic.
Pretty much every reason for the Marvel heroes to fight has been explored in the comics or films. Minor dispute that unfortunately escalates into something bigger? Hello, AvX and IvX. Ideological differences? S’up, Civil War I, II, and the film. Schism between friends that requires the intervention of strangers from another world? Hola, Secret Wars. Even the idea of the paragon of all that’s right being corrupted is currently getting explored in the Secret Empire comic, and that thing is getting trashed by nearly everybody. The company’s insistence on Big Event every year hasn’t just hurt their comics, it’s hurt their ability to really branch out and use this concept for any other media.
If an Injustice-style game with these heroes got revealed, there would more than likely be some fatigue and groans of “they’re fighting again?” No one wants to see Captain America fight Thor or Iron Man, they just want them all to sit down and have some fun. Maybe drink or kiss some boys. That’s pretty much the reason that the mobile Avengers Academy game is popular, because it’s doing something different with the characters than what we’ve seen before. Avengers in high school is a way better and more original concept than “everyone’s punching each other.” And it’s worth remembering that we already went through this once with Ultimate Alliance 2, a game that had to fabricate an original enemy because the developers didn’t want the player to feel like they were forced into losing if they sided with Team Iron Man.
Now, of course, Marvel is free to do whatever they want, since they have pretty much everyone in the world excited for everything that they do. But having their heroes fight yet again across all media has just gotten old, and it’s doubtful that there would be anything substantial to really differentiate it from the vs. Capcom series. This is just one fight they shouldn’t try to enter.