Ten Marvel Comics That Should Be Games
Defying a previous strategy of focusing on its biggest characters for movie slots, Marvel had a big triumph last week, bringing one of its nearly unknown comic properties to the big screen. Comic fans rejoiced when word broke that Guardians of the Galaxy and all its zany sci-fi weirdness was in the works as a new movie, and the final film has turned out to be both a critical and commercial success. There’s no reason the same creative thinking shouldn’t result in some awesome new video games, so today we look at ten mostly unusual Marvel properties, and how they could become great video games.
Guardians of the Galaxy
With last weekend’s movie release, the Guardians are rapidly becoming big-name heroes. However, these wild card characters have long been on the periphery of the Marvel comics universe. A recent mobile game offers a fun diversion based on the movie, but our ambitions for these characters are grander. Star-Lord, Rocket, and the rest of the gang deserve a full-fledged Mass Effect-style action/RPG, albeit with its own comedic twist. While the movie introduced the most recent cast of characters, the Guardians actually have a broader cast that has shown up over the years, including the telepathic Russian dog Cosmo (who has a cameo in the movie), Drax’s daughter Moondragon, and even an entirely separate team that exists in the far-flung future. Taken together, this zany cast would make for a great spaceship crew and adventuring party. With Star-Lord as the lead, you could develop friendships and relationships with the different Guardians, and cruise around the galaxy confronting foes like Annihilus, The Magus, and the Skrulls.
With a movie adaptation on the horizon, now is the time to get started on a great game that capitalizes on the potential of the character. Doctor Strange is the most prominent character in the magic branch of the Marvel continuity, and we’d love to see a story-focused game that explores the Sorcerer Supreme in the same style as the recent Telltale games, like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. The best elements of Doctor Strange are about the mystery and wonder of his incredibly immense powers, and magic confrontations juxtaposed against atmospheric and dramatically charged conversations with other Marvel characters could be a potent combination.
The 1990s brought us the award-winning Marvels comic book, which focused on the larger-than-life heroics of characters, like the Human Torch and Captain America, as seen from an everyman’s perspective. Specifically, the story follows photographer Phil Sheldon through various periods of his life, from attacks on New York City to the battles of World War II. We’d love to see a game starring Sheldon, in which players attempt to survive the titanic conflicts he bears witness to while capturing photos of the epic events unfolding before him. Marvels helped to launch the comic career of Alex Ross, and if the game’s art style could emulate his painterly style, it would be an amazing and memorable visual feast.
[Next Page: A co-op duo ready-made for great video game action]
Cloak and Dagger
The masked vigilante duo named Cloak and Dagger is about as ready-made for co-op as anyone could hope for. The two heroes could star in a gritty urban cooperative game where they focus on saving lost children and confronting the drug dealers and other vultures of New York City in the name of those who can’t save themselves. Cloak’s ability to teleport, cloak, and envelop his enemies could make for a great action dynamic, while Dagger’s light daggers could soften up targets and stun them for her partner. Gameplay would focus on the interaction between the two characters, and force players to work together or perish.
Everybody loves the insane destruction potential of the Hulk, but Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters, deserves her own time to shine. How about a comedic courtroom game in the style of Ace Attorney? In the comics, She-Hulk is a go-to lawyer for the superhero community, and we’d love to help her through some courtroom drama as she navigates insane super-powered court cases, only resorting to her super strength in the most extreme circumstances. Other mainstay Marvel comic heroes could make guest appearances as her clients, and the results of each case could help inform She-Hulk’s story, popularity, and the attitude of other heroes towards her.
Fantastic Four may not be a particularly crazy or offbeat Marvel comic, but our hopes for a game based on the characters could be pretty wild, and significantly different from previous efforts to bring the Fantastic Four to your video game screen, like the questionable 2005 movie game. Recently revealed titles like Evolve and Fable Legends have teased the potential of four-versus-one action gameplay, and we’d love to see that concept explored with Marvel’s first family. Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Thing, and the Human Torch each have distinct and mutually interactive powers, and it would be great fun to combine those powers in interesting ways while confronting villains (controlled by another player) like Doctor Doom, Kang the Conqueror, or even Galactus.
[Next Page: Create your own Marvel universe]
Before we veer too far from the Fantastic Four, consider the possibilities of a simulation god game based on the reality-shaping powers of Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Susan Richards. Back in 1996, Marvel shifted the bulk of its heroes into a separate pocket universe created entirely through Franklin Richards’ immense powers. We’d love to play a game in which young Franklin is once again crafting his own version of the Marvel universe (perhaps just for fun), and we as players get to decide how the world comes together. Who is a hero or villain? What conflicts arise? What costumes do they wear? Getting to craft our own version of the Marvel universe through the mutant powers of Franklin could be a fantastic twist on the classic superhero game.
Immortal Iron Fist
The Immortal Iron Fist is a brilliant comic that ran from 2006-2009, and there’s no reason its martial arts fun shouldn’t make for an equally fantastic game. Danny Rand is the titular Iron Fist, and his battles offer ample opportunity for rich and pulpy storytelling and melee combat. Equally important, this great storyline introduces the legacy of Iron Fist characters that came before Danny, assuring that the game makers could include vignettes set everywhere from ancient China to the Old West. A 70s martial arts movie visual influence could be the finishing touch needed to make this an amazing action game.
We’ve had at least one great Hulk game in the form of 2005’s Ultimate Destruction, but the Planet Hulk storyline is the one begging to be adapted into video game form. The plot follows Hulk after he is rocketed to a distant planet far from Earth and the dangers he causes there. Unfortunately for our green hero, he ends up on a planet ruled by a powerful despotic emperor, and is soon thrown into a gladiatorial arena for some truly titanic fights. A game set during this story would be chock full of furious arena combat, and plenty of drama as Hulk rises through the ranks and eventually escapes to lead a slave rebellion. This is as close as Marvel comics gets to the epic tale of Spartacus, and the potential for a deep and rewarding combat system is enough to make us hulk out.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
The challenges of friendships and relationship in high school can be as harrowing as a superhero fight, and the charming Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (2005-2007) offered a new twist on a familiar story by focusing on Mary Jane and her high school relationships with Peter Parker and others. Even as this offbeat story appealed to different readers than classic action books, a game based on the premise could be a lot of fun and draw new game players into the fold. Cribbing ideas from great Japanese RPGs like Persona, the game could focus on Mary Jane building friendships and romances with characters in high school, even while juggling the challenges and secrets introduced by Peter Parker’s life as Spider-Man.
For more on this topic, check out our reader discussion from last month, where we asked you what comics you thought should be made into games. You can also read our picks for the franchises Telltale should do next (one of which we detailed above). And for other non-Marvel comics, you can read some of our picks for comics that should become games from way back in 2010.