Insomniac’s Spider-Man has only been gaining momentum and hype since its tease at E3 two years ago, and seeing the extensive amount of gameplay at this year’s E3 was definitely a treat for fans of Marvel and the web-slinger. On the other hand, Square Enix’s surprise announcement of The Avengers project a year ago garnered an overwhelming positive response, but fans were saddened to see it absent from the company’s E3 conference this year. Either way though, the resurgence of a new wave of the superhero sub-genre in video games, Marvel presents a new and exciting future of an intermingling world of video game narratives.
As previously confirmed, Marvel plans on bringing more of its heroes’ stories to consoles, and Spider-Man is only the beginning of this vast universe of possibilities. Much like we’ve already seen in Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Games creative director said in an interview with IGN that the company plans on giving developers “the freedom to tell their story and…make it an original story” that further expands on the world surrounding its already iconic heroes.
This presents an entirely different realm for video games to enter. Much like Marvel’s extensive (and often complicated) cinematic universe, this gives the superhero genre the chance to construct several different storylines within a single, video game-based universe. While Peter Parker is a struggling college student in his upcoming game, the possible death of several Avengers could spark a new wave of heroes that eventually leads to the creation of a certain new team. A Young Avengers, perhaps. Players could see Spidey thrusted into a new role of leadership, quarreling with the responsibilities of a double life while watching his years slip away from him. To relieve him of this new-found duty Miles Morales could finally take up the mantel of Spider-Man in future sequels with Spider-Gwen as his faithful companion, creating a brand new source of strain and tension within this Marvel universe.
Branching out from Spider-Man, lesser known heroes such as Nova or the dark-and-light duo Cloak and Dagger could have flourishing identities in this new universe. Adam Warlok and Star Lord could save the galaxy together in reality-tearing battles against gods and other intergalactic foes. Like the comics, each death and each new introduction of a hero could have its own cannon in this MGU and could be carried over to the next game in development despite games coming from different developers.
Mutants could finally be introduced into the many storylines in which they are sorely lacking. The Avengers could be rebuilt with the iconic Wolverine and Storm from the X-Men, and players could experience hours of gameplay surrounding Jean Gray’s complex and terrifying storyline as the Dark Phoenix. There are so many possibilities.
Also, if the Arkham series is anything to go by, players are much more welcoming to narratives separated from the superheroes’ movie counterparts. These games would allow developers to tell rich, engrossing stories that movies could never quite capture in just under three hours. The MGU would allow players to feel each hefty punch that Spider-Man manages to land on his foes and experience the sensation of flinging between the skyscrapers that line the New York cityscape while also providing the integral emotional payoffs from traditional narratives.
Games such as Captain America: Super Soldier, the Iron Man 2 game, and Thor: God of Thunder may have been semi-faithful adaptions of their film counterparts, but retreading a similar story through low quality action ultimately led to an unsatisfying end. Meanwhile, the reaction to the upcoming Spider-Man is a clear signal to Marvel and game developers of the direction they should be going in.
The most recent footage shown at Sony’s conference gave players a look at the fast-paced swinging and flashy action the superhero genre is known for. The story is obviously an original concept, and it was a delight getting to see the number of notable Spider-Man villains featured in just that prison-break scene. The seamless, Arkham-like gameplay also eased my cautious fears for the game and brought back the sweet memories of the beloved Spider-Man 2 game on the PlayStation 2.
While this new Spider-Man content looks spectacular, The Avengers project remains a mystery until further notice. Meanwhile, fans have something to look forward to in the future of this Marvel Games Universe. With the promise of more super games to come, it looks to be an exciting future for Marvel fans.