What do Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and Aquaman have in common? They all have “man” in their nom de heros. That, and they star in standalone video games of varying quality.
These are hardly the only heroes to land leading roles in video games, but because of them, there’s little room for other characters who also deserve video games. Here’s a few such worthy heroes.
Jennifer Walters’ alter, greener ego might feature in several titles, including Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. However, she has yet to star in the limelight. Why, I must ask? She-Hulk is one of the physically strongest heroes in the Marvel universe —out-pacing and out-lifting anyone who isn’t the Hulk— and she’s a crack lawyer.
Granted, She-Hulk will soon receive her own TV show on Disney+, and she has received a ton of attention in the comics lately. However, She-Hulk is always second fiddle at best in video games. That needs to change, and I have an idea how.
Gamers love a sandbox experience where they can go wherever they want and destroy whatever they want, and they also like Phoenix Wright. So, why not marry the two in a She-Hulk game?
Imagine, if you will, a title that features plenty of open world destruction in the same vein of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. All the car brawlin, skyscraper jumping, gamma slammin’ you could ever want but with She-Hulk.
Add some Phoenix Wright-styled courtroom drama where Ms. Walters has to prove her client’s innocence (or a defendant’s guilt). These would potentially be different (and separate) from the rest of the open world gameplay and serve to both progress certain plot points and break up the action without relying on cutscenes. Plus, the courtroom scenes would provide added tension in the form of managing her stress since turning into a seven-foot giant who can benchpress the Titanic counts as witness intimidation.
Quite frankly, She-Hulk deserves a game because her unique mix of talents lends to a blend of game genres we’ve yet to see.
Last year, we published an article about canceled games, and The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive was one of them.
In case you don’t remember, the title revolved around the scarlet speedster’s first year of superherodom. It would have involved The Flash fighting crime at the speed of justice (and light if he went fast enough), potentially starred Ryan Reynolds, and most importantly, it would have been overseen by the legendary Marv Wolfman.
In the time since the game was presumably pitched, developed, and subsequently canceled, The Flash has seen an uptick in popularity.
At the time, he was already one of the most memorable characters from the Justice League cartoon. But since then, The Flash starred in a TV series on The CW, and he was the focus of a comic book event that rebooted the DC Universe (again) known as Flashpoint.
The Flash also cameoed in Batman v Superman, received an extended role in the Justice League movie, and he will soon star in an upcoming movie that may or may not be an adaptation of Flashpoint.
The Flash was shafted when his video game was canceled, so if anyone deserves a second shot at a video game, it’s the fastest man alive.
DC is full of mystic superheroes. Fate, Zatanna, John Constantine, and Jason Blood, just to name a few. But these heroes are mystical because they are skilled magicians (and Jason Blood is magically bound to the demon Etrigan). What sets Deadman apart from them is: he is mystical because he is, true to his name, dead.
Deadman has all the spellcasting ability of a ham sandwich, but he can possess any living person thanks to the goddess Rama Kushna. And, Deadman uses this power to find the man who killed him.
While you can count on one hand the number of important stories that put Deadman front and center, he has a history of teaming up with other heroes and helping them in their adventures. And yes, he is good friends with Batman.
Deadman might be a second stringer in most of his adventures, but his powers lend themselves to a unique, puzzle-oriented take on superhero games. He can’t throw a punch, but the people he possesses can. The hypothetical game could ask who to possess and when.
Would Deadman possess a cop and charge into battle, risking his host’s life for a straightforward approach? Or, would he control a potential enemy, use them to perform sabotage, and watch the resulting chaos unfold?
With Deadman’s powers, developers could create a sandbox puzzle game where there’s no such thing as a wrong solution. Well, except for ones that get innocent people killed; Deadman is a hero, after all.
Rocket Raccoon and Groot
I’m going to come out and say it: Rocket Raccoon and Groot are the Ratchet and Clank of the Marvel Universe. Or are Ratchet and Clank the Rocket Raccoon and Groot of the PlayStation library?
Regardless, we all know the big reason why Rocket and Groot deserve a standalone game: they’re insanely popular thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While they haven’t received their own movies, unlike other prominent heroes, Rocket and Groot are the source of some of the most memorable scenes and lines in the franchise.
And, let us not forget that without Rocket Raccoon and Groot, many plans and strategies throughout the franchise would have failed, or have you forgotten that the handle of Thor’s Stormbreaker axe is Groot’s severed arm?
From Rocket’s obsession with obtaining random prosthetic limbs to Groot’s, um, Grootness, the two are a destructive duo with a penchant for unintentional comedy. Moreover, their personalities bounce off each other perfectly, just like Ratchet and Clank.
If Rocket Raccoon and Groot were to receive their own video game, it would ideally follow the Ratchet and Clank formula: a comedic, action-packed platformer with increasingly wild and destructive guns.
Moreover, the game could explore their pre-Guardians of the Galaxies days. While a game that stars the other Guardians sounds like a good idea on paper, a title that focuses on just Rocket and Groot would provide more time for individual character development.
Plus, focusing on the two characters would let the developers to polish a core gameplay style instead of create multiple mechanics for different playable characters.
Black Widow has quite the storied history. First she was an evil Russian spy (she was created in the middle of the Cold War, after all), but later she defected to S.H.I.E.L.D. Ol’ Natasha Romanoff has come quite a long way, as demonstrated by her Marvel Cinematic resume.
Who helped Nick Fury recruit Iron Man? Black Widow. Who is the only character to out-think Loki? Black Widow. Who took charge after the Thanos Snap wiped out half of existence? Black Widow. Who sacrificed their life to stop Thanos. Iron Man. Oh, and Black Widow.
Black Widow has one heck of an arc in the MCU, second only to Tony Stark, and only now has Marvel deemed it time to give her a standalone movie. So why not also give her a video game? No, the upcoming Avengers game doesn’t count since it is about the Avengers, not just Black Widow.
In an ideal world, a Black Widow game would be a stealth-heavy title, something akin to classic Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid, maybe with open world exploration thrown in for flavor. Black Widow is a super spy, after all, and you can’t spell spy without stealth. Kinda.
Who the heck is B’wana Beast? You b’wana know, don’t you? Well, he’s one of the coolest heroes you’ve probably never heard of.
Depending on the continuity, B’wana Beast either got his powers from strange mineral water or polluted water. Regardless, he’s still a man with supernatural strength, animal-like tracking abilities, the power to communicate with animals —which is different from Aquaman’s power to talk to fish— and he can mix and match them into chimeric hybrids.
Admittedly, B’wana Beast isn’t the most popular hero. He’s appeared alongside other Justice League members, but he’s never really struck it big like other minor leaguers such as Question or Firestorm. Still, B’wana Beast could star in a stellar video game, if developers give him the chance.
Now, many gamers love player choice, correct? They love to approach puzzles and challenges any way they want, especially when they can invent their own solutions. The more options, the better, and that’s what B’wana’s chimeric powers offer.
Granted, a B’wana Beast game could feature plenty of brawling segments and scenarios that utilize his tracking powers, but imagine the creative creatures players could produce to overcome different scenarios. Combine a raccoon with a spider to stealthily take down guards in a fortress, or tear down the front door with a bear/bull hybrid and go in with fists blazing.
In a B’wana Beast game, the world could be your oyster. Your own giant mutant oyster with crab claws and octopus tentacles.
Ka-Zar and Zabu
When you think about your favorite fictional location in the Marvel universe, your mind probably leaps to Asgard, Wakanda, or even Latveria. However, out of all its marvelous locales, none captures the imagination quite like the Savage Land. What sets this uncreatively named place above the rest? Three words: Ka-Zar and Zabu.
Ka-Zar is essentially Marvel’s hero answer to Tarzan. However, instead being of a young man who was raised by apes, Ka-Zar is young man who was raised by Zabu, a sabertooth tiger with near-human intellect. Do I have your attention yet?
The Savage Land is a tropical game preserve hidden in the desolate reaches of Antarctica. It was created in pre-historic times by aliens and stocked with an array of different creatures throughout Earth’s history. You can’t venture five feet into the Savage Land without encountering dinosaurs, mastodons, Neanderthals, and beastmen races mutated by Atlanteans.
The Savage Land is ripe for exploration since it is a melting pot of Earth’s prehistory in its entirety and has fantastical elements that invoke shades of Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian. Ka-Zar and Zabu are the perfect stars for such a game. Who better to give gamers a tour of the land than those who know it best?
Perhaps this hypothetical game could be an open world experience similar to Far Cry Primal, complete with Zabu as a permanent companion. The game could feature nothing but Savage Land faces or include cameos from characters tied to the reserve, such as Magneto, the X-Men, and Devil Dinosaur. Either strategy could work.
Then again, I don’t think anyone would complain if such a game instead starred Devil Dinosaur and featured Ka-Zar and Zabu as guest cameos.
I freely admit there are too many people with the surname Strange in comics. There’s Dr. Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme from Marvel; as well as Professor Hugo Strange, the evil psychiatrist who uses Arkham Asylum and its inmates for his twisted experiments. And then there’s the subject of this entry, Adam Strange, the dashing sci-fi hero of the DC Universe.
Adam Strange is a love letter to pulp science fiction. He has the intergalactic heroics and technology of Flash Gordon, the fish out of water of Buck Rodgers (and Flash Gordon), and the jetpack of The Rocketeer.
Long story short, Adam Strange is an archaeologist who was accidentally transported to the alien world of Rann. Through a series of circumstances, he becomes the planet’s protector, using advanced Rannian technology to defend it from invading forces. Usually, it’s the Earth that needs defending, but Adam Strange’s relatively novel setting would lend well to a video game.
An Adam Strange video game could let audiences explore the hidden side of the DC universe’s extraterrestrialism, all with a pulp sci-fi paint job. Such a game could include a roster of aliens many people don’t usually see outside of high-profile heroes and villains, including Thanagarians (Hawkman and Hawkgirl), Tamaranians (Starfire), and Czarnians (Lobo). The game could also feature more obscure races like Gordanians and Coluans.
Plus, since Adam Strange is just a man with Rannian technology, balancing the game’s difficulty while staying true to the source material would not be an issue. He’s no master martial artist like Batman, and he’s certainly not invulnerable like Superman; he’s just a hammier Nathan Drake with a raygun and jetpack.
Savage Dragon is the only hero on this list who isn’t a part of DC or Marvel, and that is probably the character’s biggest advantage. That, and the creative staff behind the character’s comic has yet to receive an overhaul. Erik Larson started writing and drawing The Savage Dragon in 1992 and has not stopped.
Anyway, you probably want to know more about the character. Basically, Savage Dragon is an amnesiac alien (spoilers) with super-strength and super healing. He has all the standard superhero powers, but he sets himself apart by not being a superhero.
Savage Dragon has teamed up with plenty of superheroes, but he’s actually a cop. That’s probably the most original premise for a “superhero” ever.
When you look at it, a Savage Dragon video game could be a breath of fresh air in an industry saturated with DC and Marvel properties. Don’t get me wrong; the DC and Marvel movies, shows, comics, and games are some of the best around. But, there’s only so many times we can see Thomas and Martha Wayne shot in front of their son before we want to see a story that isn’t tattooed on our brains.
A Savage Dragon game, meanwhile, could feature a unique “superhero” who wears a badge instead of spandex, a story where the amnesiac protagonist learns facts at the same pace as the player, and a world full of heroes and villains that would probably be new to mainstream audiences.
And, if players want a familiar face, the game could easily cameo someone recognizable who has canonically joined forces with Savage Dragon, such as Spawn or Hellboy.
What’s not to love?
Two words: Neil Gaiman. That is all.
Ok, you probably want more of an explanation. For those of you who never heard of the character, Dream, also known as Morpheus and sometimes as Sandman (not to be confused with the Marvel supervillain of the same name), isn’t a traditional superhero.
He’s not an antihero either, though; he is one of the Endless, nigh-immortal beings who embody various aspects of reality like Destruction, Desire, and Death.
Dream isn’t good or evil; he just is. However, he has performed heroic deeds, such as stopping Doctor Destiny from drowning the world in a waking nightmare of insanity, so he fits the profile of a hero. Plus, Dream once escaped from Hell by asking literally every demon the question, “What power would Hell have if those imprisoned were not able to dream of Heaven?”
You can’t get more badass than making all the hosts of Hell stand down with a question, but what else can you expect from a character created by Neil Gaiman? And that’s why Dream deserves a video game: because he’s a hero (of sorts) who can make enemies surrender by talking to them.
To be fair, Dream’s adventures are probably difficult to turn into a video game, but that’s part of the fun. Developers would wrack their brains figuring out how to translate the story of a god who has never thrown a punch in his life —but only because he doesn’t need to— into virtual form.
Would the game be a narrative-heavy experience not unlike the Telltale Games titles of yore? Or would it be akin to a Monkey Island-esque point and click adventure where players use dream logic to solve puzzles?
Regardless of the genre, a game starring Dream could be an experience unlike any other, where the walls smell of Sunday and clowns carry bouquets of bowling balls. But, for added authenticity, Neil Gaiman should be at the helm.