Over the weekend, the folks at DidYouKnowGaming? released the latest in its series of videos spotlighting video games that never came to be. This particular video takes a look at a movie tie-in that was widely expected, but never wound up happening. It's a look into the tie-in for Marvel's The Avengers.
In examining the video below and what THQ's Brisbane had in mind for the game's concept, it's worth wondering whether this game could have panned out?
Through a Hero's Eyes
It's worth noting off the bat that THQ's idea for this Avengers game was solid. The movie tie-ins prior to this were mediocre offerings, at best. The instinct with an Avengers game would have been to craft a run-of-the-mill brawler or a dungeon crawler. But as the video notes, that had already been done. In fact, the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series was a fantastic encapsulation of everything great about the Marvel Universe as a whole. While the Avengers film was a more ambitious filmmaking effort, in terms of its narrative and its idea of tying in multiple film franchises, it would have been a mere drop in the bucket in the gaming world, which had seen this concept done better.
In that sense, a first-person action game would have been a brilliant move, for its sheer curiosity factor alone. Smashing in first-person as the Hulk could have been something special. Taking flight as Iron Man could have been cool, right down to the Jarvis interface. The co-op element sounded inspired, with players potentially fighting over who could be which Avenger. Of course, if humans weren't available, this entire concept would have hinged on capable bot AI, which may have been something of a tall task.
While it could have been a massive disaster, the fact that nothing like it had been done before would have made it all worth the effort.
A Not-So-Secret Tie-In
Where the Avengers game starts to deviate from the Marvel Cinematic Universe was with its story. Writer Brian Michael Bendis came aboard with a script the strongly resembled his Secret Invasion storyline from the comics that debuted just a few years prior to this game's development cycle. At this point, the concept sounds less like an Avengers movie tie-in and more like "Secret Invasion: The Game."
For fans of that story, that's all well and good, but part of the novelty of the whole Avengers film was seeing the team come together for the first time. This story feels like less of that and more like a tale that taps into a more seasoned Avengers team. Now, here's where it should be noted that artist Jeremy Love, speaking to DidYouKnowGaming?, denied that this story would be based on the overall MCU narrative. Still, it was worth hoping for more of that magic and less of something that could have simply fit into the aforementioned Ultimate Alliance series.
Could This Idea Still Work?
At this point, THQ's story is well-documented. Financial troubles ultimately led to the publisher's demise, leading to the scattering of many gaming franchises and the cancellation of numerous others. That, of course, included this Avengers game. But could this concept, in itself, still work?
Marvel has taken its focus to the mobile market, offering up puzzle games, card games, and asynchronous multiplayer efforts. For the most part, action is off the table. The lone action effort is Marvel Heroes, which feels like an MMORPG extension of the Ultimate Alliance series. Gazillion has offered up fan service in droves, with its expansive roster of characters and also with its stories penned by some of Marvel's best writers. In fact, Marvel Heroes 2016 is supposed to jump into Secret Invasion in December, reviving some of the concepts left behind from this canceled Avengers game.
But what about the first-person, co-op action? Is there still a place for this? Again, it would ultimately depend on what would happen if human partners weren't available. I would love to tear things up as Hulk in a solo environment, but the premise demands four heroes and if my three partner bots are as intelligent as some of today's AI partners (Halo 5: Guardians, popping up as an immediate example), then that sucks a lot of the fun out of it. With that said, there's no denying that the enjoyment would have come from combos. Fastball specials, Thor charging up Iron Man, or Iron Man reflecting blasts off of Captain America's shield could still work in a first-person environment.
Bendis points out that the Avengers game is a generation behind, in terms of tech. That makes sense, but ideas never go out of style. With next-gen consoles and PC hardware having taken major leaps in the last five years, this idea seems more feasible now than ever. Those additional resources could also help realize the game's detailed, destructible environments.
If anything, I'm hopeful this latest spotlight on the canceled Avengers game will get more than a few people wondering what a first-person Marvel game would look like. Given that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is looking to come to a head in the next five years, perhaps the story could take more of a cue from the massive tie-in tale that's set to tie over 15 years of movies together. Hopefully, the concept can see some new life with the aid of strong new gaming technology, because a first-person Marvel Universe game sounds like an idea worth of a heroic effort.