For decade’s now there have been video games based on Marvel properties: Spider-Man, the X-Men, The Punisher, even Deadpool and the Silver Surfer. A high percentage of the games released based on a Marvel property take place right here on the planet earth, and rightfully so. One of the qualities that I believe makes Marvel’s roster of characters so relatable and endearing is how grounded they are, compared to DC’s stable of heavy hitters that come from other planets, universes or dimensions.
Recently though there’s been a shift upwards towards the stars in Marvel’s stories. The Marvel NOW initiative in 2012 brought back the cosmic team the Guardians of the Galaxy, a property that is getting the big screen treatment in a so close you can taste it week and a bit, as well as an all new Nova, Marvel’s equivalent of the Green Lantern space police idea, that also shares the spotlight on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. The anniversary of the promotion culminated in the “Infinity” store line that saw the return of the Mad Titan Thanos, and The Avengers heading off world to rally the universe at large to stop all of reality from ending.
This year the space race has gotten more intense in the Marvel world. Joining Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova is an all new on-going Silver Surfer series, and the exodus of many of their heroes into space, including Iron Man, Venom (though to be fair the character IS half-alien,) Captain Marvel, even Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier later this year.
So is it now the time for there to be a Marvel game set exclusively in space?
The company now more so than in a long time is really pushing their catalog of exterrestrial properties in the world of comics and now film, first in 2012’s The Avengers with the invading Chiaturi and the Thanos mid-credits tease, continuing this again is Guardians of the Galaxy which will have no ties to any previous Marvel film and features a talking raccoon and tree-alien.
But what does space offer that regular Marvel games don’t?
First there’s a variety of characters that have yet to really be explored in the video game world, many of which I have mentioned above: Nova, Silver Surfer and of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy, who just so happened to get a really great game last week on mobile devices. You also can’t discount the nefarious alien races that exist in the cosmic Marvel universe like that Skrulls, the Badoon or even the Kree.
These characters exist in strange, exotic and unique worlds the likes that no Marvel game has ever seen. Despite being a mobile game, The Universal Weapon had environments like the Nova home world base of operations, planet Xandar, and the setting of Planet Hulk, Sakaar. Contrast that with a lot of games like Spider-Man, the upcoming Disney Infinity 2.0 and even my favorite, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, which all take place in and around New York City. It is authentic to the characters, as a majority of heroes do operate out of the city, but getting out of their once in a while would also be great.
Speaking of Planet Hulk, that would be a great story in which to seque an earth based hero to outer space. In that story the Hulk is sent into space to not only just spare the inhabitants of earth, but the Hulk from himself. While the destination chose by those who sent the Green Goliath into space was meant to be a peaceful world, the Hulk’s rage throws the ship off course and strands him on the world of Sakarr where he must fight for his every existence as an intergalactic gladiator.
A game based on this story, even loosely based, could bring an evolved version of the mechanics from that found in the last great Hulk game, Ultimate Destruction, and also introduce the world to the concept of a Marvel hero existing outside the United States. This story has also been touched, though lightly, in last week’s The Universal Weapon.
It’s not like gamers as a group are not against grand sci-fi adventures either. Among countless other franchises that have came and gone over the years, one of the greatest of the last generation was EA and BioWare’s Mass Effect where the planet earth was only mentioned and briefly visited. Disney, the parent company of Marvel, is also positioning another franchise they own, Star Wars, in a big way in the video game realm by putting the franchise in the hands of the above mentioned EA.
Marvel as a company, in both film and comics, seems eager to explore the countless worlds they’ve developed over the years. Now all they had to complete this commitment is a video game that shares that same level of passion. Whether it’s the Guardians, the Silver Surfer or any other cosmic property, a Marvel game set in space would make some excellent diversity to their property of games, and allow gamers to explore countless worlds of adventure that still have the properties of what makes Marvel so great.