Hey Marvel, what’s up? Keeping yourself busy?
Oh, me? Not much, just been watching that new Captain America: Civil War trailer of yours over and over until all the superheroes started blurring together into a kaleidoscope of primary colors and nifty headgear.
But look, while I’ve got you here, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you: where the fuck are all the amazing videogames you should have been making for the last eight years?
Ever since Iron Man, you pretty much changed the landscape of blockbuster cinema. You gave us the shared universe, you proved Nolan-esque grimdark wasn’t the only way to make a modern comic book movie work, and you found a way to make sure I watch all film credits until the end, just out of sheer paranoia that I might miss an extra reference, in-joke, or bit of slightly forced set-up.
Sure, it’s not all been good. You had a bit of a rough patch with all that tricky race and gender stuff, but it looks like you’re probably getting better. Now you’ve even got Spider-Man back on board, and it looks like you’re actually gonna get him right. As someone who lost an extensive chunk of his childhood to the ‘90s Fox Kids cartoon, that means a lot to me, you guys.
But it isn’t just films any more, is it? You decided you wanted to try and fix TV too. Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just started out as a sub-Whedon cash-in, but it’s pretty decent now. More importantly, your Netflix stuff has basically elevated superhero TV to the best of the medium. Daredevil and Jessica Jones are way more than brainless blockbusters: they’re the kind of thoughtful, surprising pop television that just didn’t exist a decade ago, measuring up to the Breaking Bads of the world.
So, and I mean this in the nicest possible way guys, why the fuck haven’t you started making games yet? Why is it that the only big budget Marvel videogames around right now are either made of Lego, mashed up with every other Disney franchise in existence, or involve some freaky college-age slashfic versions of the original comic book characters?
Do you find it daunting that no-one has really made many good superhero games before? I mean it didn’t stop you from making Daredevil. what paved the way for that show? Smallville?
I get it, superhero games mostly suck. As a kid I remember being awestruck by the sheer vicious power of a scathing Superman 64 review – a game still lodged in my head as the archetypal flop, despite having never played a second of it. But they’re not all bad. Just as the Spider-Man cartoon stole my childhood from me, so City of Heroes took the bulk of my teenage years, successfully tackling superheroes in a big, bold MMO way. And DC’s Arkham games are among the best titles of the last few years – you’re stomping all over them in cinemas, so why have you let them win the console wars?
I can see you might be nervous putting Iron Man in the hands of some game developer you haven’t worked with before. You’ve put a lot of effort elevating him from the superhero C-list to one of cinema’s biggest moneymakers, and the last thing you need is a buggy, messy tie-in to dilute the brand.
But why not give someone else a shot? It looks pretty clear you’ve got no plans for a Black Widow solo movie, so why not give us a moody, complex stealth game tackling some of those lingering Cold War plot threads? Or how about the Hulk, if he’s not too busy right now? People basically liked Ultimate Destruction back in 2005, but I bet you could do better now.
Even better, give me someone I’ve never even heard of before, like you did with Guardians of the Galaxy, and force me to love them one story-driven punch at a time! I want to play a game based on some dumb-sounding team that has (until now) been relegated to the deepest caverns of the Marvel universe. Maybe let TellTale have a crack at the narrative (Drifter, could you get on that?) of some of your smaller characters, or one of the cult favorites (Spider-Gwen, anybody?).
Marvel, you saved superheroes on film. You saved superheroes on TV. Is it too much to ask that you save them in games too?