Where Are The Great Marvel Video Games?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated May 19th, 2014 at 8:56 am,

Marvel Heroes MMO Logo

Not unlike Star Wars, Marvel-licensed properties were all the rage back in the day. We had a pair of wonderful co-op friendly X-Men: Legends games followed by a pair of similarly designed Marvel: Ultimate Alliance titles. In the ’90s there all sorts of of arcade and early console games but over the years and into the late 2000s it became more about building games for and marketing them alongside film releases.

With the exception of the surprisingly good X-Men Origins: Wolverine video game – that turned out to be better than the film of the same name – these games were disastrous. Marvel and their partners had adopted a quantity-over-quality approach to releasing games like Thor: God of Thunder and actually managed to make the Marvel brand uncool for gamers. There were a few pretty good titles here and there, but overall, the focus was on cheaper kid-focused titles (i.e. Super Hero Squad) and the movie tie-ins, which were rarely worth playing.

What happened? Why with decades and decades of comic book stories and characters, and an exploding high-quality film franchise, were such terrible games being made? Let’s be clear – we aren’t talking about the LEGO games that have found a simple, fun and successful formula that lends itself to working for practically any licensed property – we’re talking about the “triple-A” games that show up in most-anticipated and award nomination lists.

Marvel Logo Wallpaper

Looking at the landscape of Marvel video games right now, we have a dated looking Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in on consoles, a Facebook game (Marvel: Avengers Alliance), a shallow free-to-play Diablo clone (Marvel Heroes) and just this week, we learned that Disney Infinity is getting its Marvel expansion this fall. This is more of a merchandising move more than anything as the game makes its money from selling the playable characters as figurines would-be gamers (and parents) must purchase, and from our experiences from the first Disney Infinity, it doesn’t offer much on the gameplay, graphics and immersion front.

So, again, what’s up? Where’s the big budget Avengers game that can compete with the Batman: Arkham series, the type of game that would get gamers excited, the type of game worthy of awards? According to Marvel Games boss TQ Jefferson in an interview with IGN, they’ve adopted a new approach and an Avengers game will only come when they find the right talent to make it.

“The Avengers game will come when we have the right partner, that has the right vision, that has the time to develop a strong, competitive triple-A title and wants to do it right. It has to hit our three pillars: Fun and engaging gameplay, true to the characters, compelling story. Without hitting those notes, we shouldn’t do it. Gamers, they know better. They’re not going to flock to something that’s sub-par.”

“I think the fact that there wasn’t an Avengers game turned out in time for the film is indicative of Marvel’s new attitude and the approach to how we find partners and build games. I think in the heyday of the movie licensed game, these games were popping out all the time and most of them sucked.”

Jefferson admits to Marvel being guilty of rushing games to meet release dates (see: Sega’s Marvel games), pointing towards a few of the more recent movie tie-ins as examples, but he now claims Marvel would rather not have a game at all than force one out in a rushed manner. Also speaking with Polygon at the Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes announcement event, Jefferson offered a few more thoughts on the bigger picture plans and more patient approach Marvel Games is taking with future releases.

Disney Infinity - Avengers Figure Lineup


“We are looking at smarter, more interconnected experiences, more interconnected narrative. If you’ve been to our [Comic-Con] panels, you’ve heard me talk about the Marvel Gaming Universe, how the game’s exist in their own continuity, how they share elements from other games and they’re working along the same story lines – or they’re at least aware of each other. We are evolving how we’re approaching our games and how we’re building out our [games] universe.”

“What we’re also doing now is we’re being much more selective and measured in how we approach partnerships. I think in the heyday of the movie licensed game, it was just, ‘Let’s churn out something, let’s do the the smash and grab, get the money and get out’ and most of those games sucked, to be perfectly blunt.”

“We have to respond by introducing higher quality product,” he said. “We’re pushing more quality now than we ever have in the past and if that means fewer games, that means fewer games. As long as we’re hitting a high quality bar and holding ourselves to a higher standard.”

We’ve heard a bit of this before, especially around the launch of Marvel Heroes which ultimately was a letdown, so we’ll let the games speak for themselves when they arrive. And that could be a while away. What Marvel character, team or story would you love to see made into a game? And if so, what type of game?


More: THQ’s Canceled ‘Avengers’ Video Game


Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: IGN, Polygon

TAGS: Disney Infinity, Disney Interactive, Marvel, THQ

  • Slade

    I dont think any new superhero game will be able to outshine the Arkham series. Although I do dislike batman for obvious reasons, lol.

    • Adrian

      I really hope we get a triple A game from Marvel. They have the time and the power so why not?.

    • fxtricky

      Haha what you dont like Bats cuz hes questionable? Man wont let no random females in the house let alone in the bedroom but he lets random kids know his secret batpass to the cave and have they own room and go moonlighting with him eh? lol Hes justr as nuts as Joker for real :p

  • Cal

    A well done Arkham/rocksteady like game with Hawkeye/Widow/Cap I’d be interested, maybe a well done Iron Man game, but even then I just wouldn’t be interested in a game about other Marvel/Disney heroes.

    • dan

      Mmmm, I dunno. I can imagine versions of XMen and Spiderman that would be good. Even a Venom. But it would require a willingness to explore the more subtle and mature themes that their characters explore.

  • Exodude

    Marvel Heroes = WIN

  • Dave

    I’d love to see CD Projekt RED tackle the property.
    Granted they’d like to work on their own projects, but this would make them more well-known to the general public.

  • Nevin

    I hope Marvel vs. Capcom gets a release for PS4/XBone. Its still considered one of the best fighting games ever, and yet, not a word on 4.

    Disney/Marvel needs to make this to happen.

  • wolf

    I’d like to see something of an open world game combining elements of GTA, Lego Marvel, The FOrce Unleashed, Arkham, and Avengers Alliance.

    Marvel Heroes are unlocked using a command point system ala Avengers Alliance.

    Command points are acquired through completing character or type missions or through solving puzzles in a similar fashion to the Riddler puzzles in the Arkham series.

    Different Characters cost more command points than others… this balances out the power levels and abilities of certain characters. For example, if Kitty Pryde were to be included in the roster, she would be very high level to prevent her from just phase collecting all of the simpler command points.

    Some command point puzzles require specific skill sets to get… For instance, some could only be acquired through shrinking, making Ant-man or Wasp necessary. You could expand on this by requiring both striking (zapping) and flying, making wasp the go-to hero.

    When a character is acquired through the purchase system, a new waypoint/mission is opened up. that is a specific mission for that character. The character is unlocked in free roam once you have completed his/her task.

    Characters are allowed to be as destructive as they want in the open world, however, when they’ve done a certain level of damage (think of the star system in GTA) they have an increasing response. Leading up to other heroes coming for them.

    I love the idea of an Easter Egg location that is Attilan and only reachable by a select set of characters, those who can fly and survive in space. When a character, say Angel of the X-men, is flying straight up, at a certain altitude he passes out and falls. A button mashing is required to wake him up before he hits the ground. However, someone like Thor (who would be a high level unlock) could fly up and up and up… to the point that people may eventually stop. But at a certain point, it shows a cut scene of him flying through space and coming to Attilan. or the Blue Are of the moon. Through interacting with or completing a mission based around the Watcher, you would have access to all cinematic clips you’ve unlocked.

    • wolf

      I mean, I don’t know how realistic any of this is, but if possible, it’s the sort of thing that would actually elevate most Marvel games from being uninspired movie tie-ins and lead to something that fans and other gamers can get behind.

  • Nick

    We need another Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction.

  • reno2200

    I wouldn’t mind a sort-of spiritual successor to Alpha Protocol being made into a SHIELD game. Play as an agent, upgrade them as you see fit, work as part of a team, make really cheesy one-liners and so on. Everyone knows about SHIELD and even if the TV ratings aren’t sky-high in the US any more, the series’ critical reception is soaring.

  • Darren

    The whole Marvel Ultimate Alliance series needs to be done and continue on. I loved those two! Xmen and Wolverine, well they just don’t appeal to me like MUA!

  • RedSkull


  • Paul

    They should make an rpg like dark souls but set in the marvel universe with a decent size roster of heroes and villains that you can customize with different costumes. Then, use an alternate reality story so the characters can be played outside of their usual characteristics and cross between dimensions for pvp battles in the same way dark souls does.

  • Dave

    I’d prefer something in the Witcher vein if it was regarding a new Captain America game.
    Not talking about the graphic parts but the ideological parts, since Geralt had to confront a lot of opposing ideologies, nothing black & white, and sometimes shake hands with a lot of unsavory types in order to achieve his goals.
    For me the best Captain America stories have always been the ones that challenged him as a person.

  • MoodyDick

    I would enjoy another gauntlet-style foray a la Legends or UAlliance.
    There was a great Marvel Trading Card Game on PSP I would like to see rebooted w local and online multiplayer – for whatever platform.

    If we’re getting creative maybe….
    Punisher FPS
    Shield WWII Strategy
    Cloak and Dagger RPG
    Daredevil Brawler/Arkham Clone
    Ghost Rider (classic) Western by RockStar
    Or (modern) cameo in Twisted Metal
    Silver Surfer Space Sim
    Marvel Pinball… nahhh that’s just silly

    • wolf

      man, a Mass Effect-like game built around the galactic aspect of the marvel universe could be awesome… YOu could go to a bunch of different planets, maybe form alliances with the shi’ar; the kree; the skrulls… you could encounter/fight some heralds of galactus…. obviously the guardians would be included, but the star jammers as well… you could even build in planet hulk. Just all these discoverable planets to explore… and allies to possibly recruit… that’d be cool.

  • Thorsman

    I loved Ultimate Alliance. I think a game in that vein following the Civil War storyline would be awesome.

    • reno2200

      It exists. It’s called Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.

  • Daryl reeder

    Here’s an idea. Make another Marvel alliance and expand upon the the gameplay. Not just more powers but a greater variety of basic combat moves and even bigger roster. Where is cyclops, rogue, scarlet witch, jubilee, magma? Use what made xmen legends great and expand on that in mua3. It’s simple

  • ShootingStar

    First off, thank you Marvel for years of great work and thak you Disney. Its pretty neat being able to see my son and daughter experience my wife and I child hood favorites. We are still huge fans. Take you time figuring out the right game ply and style for us more mature gamers. The INFINITY pieces my kids will have them all, but you have to come out with something hot for the PS4 and XBOXONE. IM a PS4 type of gamer myself. assassin creed unity Gods of war styles of games would be hot of course marvels guinness would blow those games out the water. Characters just to name a fe:CAPTAIN AMERICA, DOCTOR STRANGE, HULK, THOR, DEADPOOL, IRON MAN, WOLVERINE, SILVER SURFER, MAR-VEl, BLAC PANTHER, BLADE,etc…..You get the picture. Blow the gamers mind. got to have marvel destruction of course along with some space traveling just dont bite off of DC UNIVERSE ONLINE. take s to long to upload. Well thats about all.