SPIDER-MAN AND IRON MAN TOGETHER IN A MOVIE IS A BIG DEAL, BUT NOTHING NEW FOR VIDEO GAMES

Before Spider-Man joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the only super powered team-up in a Spider-Man film was Peter and Harry teaming up to defeat Sandman and Venom in the conclusion of Spider-Man 3. In his MCU debut, Spider-Man shared the screen with nearly every hero in Captain America: Civil War and now as part of his first ever solo film within the shared universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming, he’ll team up with the Armored Avenger, Iron Man. As great as it is to see Spider-Man share the screen with another hero as it’s something that we’ve never seen in over fifteen years of Spider-Man films, it’s nothing new to video games as its been happening for over twenty years now.

The first instance of a Spider-Man/Iron Man combo was in 1996’s Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems, a pseudo-sequel to Capcom’s X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. In War of the Gems, players can choose from a roster of Marvel heroes including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Wolverine to explore levels in search of the Infinity Stones, culminating in a showdown with the Mad Titan himself, Thanos. This game was loosely inspired by the The Infinity Gauntlet story line and will also serve as inspiration for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War in yet another case of video games trumping movies by decades. A comedic take on The Infinity Gauntlet was also the basis for the family friendly game Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad cartoon. Both Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet and its prequel, simply titled Marvel Super Hero Squad, featured both Spider-Man and Iron Man as playable characters.

The Super Hero Squad series of games were of the first family friendly Marvel games to come out, but none were as popular as the Lego Marvel games: Lego Marvel Super Heroes and Lego Marvel’s The Avengers. Lego Marvel Super Heroes featured a wholly original story that featured characters from nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe teaming up to stop Loki and Doctor Doom in their quest to collect powerful cosmic bricks. Of the over one hundred playable characters in that game were Spider-Man and Iron Man, each with different costumes that could be played around with. Lego Marvel’s The Avengers retold events from the first two Avengers films as well as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World and while Spider-Man was not in the game initially, a free update was made available that added multiple Spider-Men and Women into it. For the sequel Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, there isn’t a traditional version of Spider-Man that has been shown yet, however Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man Nor and Spider-Gwen are in the roster of playable characters, and so to is Iron Man.

Disney’s foray into the toys-to-life genre, Disney Infinity, added Marvel characters into its 2.0 edition. Depending on which version of the game you bought, Iron Man was a figure you got straight out of the box and a playset for the game based on Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man series was on the first add-on’s you could buy when it launched in September of 2014. In the game’s Toy Box mode, essentially a mode in which players could create their own levels and upload them before the game’s servers were shut down upon the projects cancellation, Iron Man and Spider-Man could join forces. By collecting ten Iron Man tokens in the Ultimate Spider-Man playset, he could also be unlocked and used in the campaign to help stop Green Goblin, Mysterio and Doc Ock from using spawns of Venom from taking over New York City. Placing Iron Man on the base while playing the campaign also added a few extra side-missions as well. Similar to Disney Infinity 2.0, the 3.0 itieration of the game allowed for an Iron Man/Spider-Man pairing in the Toy Box, and in the only Marvel playset for that game, the brawler Marvel Battlegrounds, the two could head-to-head against one another or join forces as part of a team.

There’s a lot of instances of video games where Iron Man and Spider-Man share the spotlight and are friendly with one another, but also plenty of times where the two clash as well. Capcom’s other game to carry the title Marvel Super Heroes was an arcade fighter that was eventually ported to home consoles that you could prove who would win in a fight, Iron Man or Spider-Man. Marvel Super Heroes would eventually evolve into the cross-over Vs. Series where you could form teams of two or three (depending on the game) of Marvel heroes and villains and those of Capcom’s stable of characters and do battle. It wouldn’t be until Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes where Iron Man and Spider-Man could either battle, team-up, or both (a palette swapped version of Iron Man was turned into War Machine for the first Marvel Vs. Capcom). This continued into Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and its revision, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Iron Man has been confirmed for the upcoming Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite but so far Spider-Man hasn’t, though rumor is he will be.

Not all Marvel fighters were developed by Capcom, and the first instance of a non-Capcom fighter to include the option to play as both Iron Man and Spider-Man would be EA’s attempt to combine Marvel characters with a group of internally made characters in the one-and-done game Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects that failed to either get a sequel or kick-start future games for the Imperfects. 2012’s Ubisoft developed and published Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth was a motion or touch screen controlled, depending on if you played on either the Xbox 360 or the Wii U, fighting game that allowed you to tag fighters in-an-out just like in Capcom’s Vs. Series of games. Though it was more than likely released to cash in on the hype of Marvel’s The Avengers that released that year, it also featured Spider-Man and characters from the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties. The story was written by Brian Micheal Bendis and used the Secret Invasion comic story written by him for the story campaign mode.

Perhaps the most well-known series of Marvel mash-up games were Activision’s small series of Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. Iron Man is not immediately playable in the opening scenario that has Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Thor repelling an invasion of Ultron robots that are attacking a S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier, but it’s not very long until you can swap out whatever character you want to create a team that includes Iron Man and Spider-Man. For a brief time in Marvel Comics, Spider-Man lived in Stark Tower and wore a costume created by Tony Stark dubbed the Iron Spider that used the yellow-and-red scheme of the Iron Man armor. This suit would play an important role in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 that adapted among other things the Civil War story from the comics. In the comics Spider-Man initially sides with Tony’s pro-registration movement before defecting to Captain America’s anti-registration team. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 allows players to side with Iron Man or Captain America and whether you choose one or the other, Spider-Man is a character you can select for your party. Siding with Iron Man however unlocks the Iron Spider costume as an alternate suit for Spider-Man.

If your budget for new games is tight and the love the idea of playing a video game with both Iron Man and Spider-Man in it, there’s a number of options available to you that are free of charge. The free-to-play MMO Marvel Heroes for PC, now available on PS4 and Xbox One as Marvel Heroes Omega, is perhaps the most traditional game that you can see Iron Man and Spider-Man on the same screen, but there’s a number of mobile titles that offer this as well including Marvel Avengers Academy, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel Future Fight and Marvel Puzzle Quest. If you have a few dollars to spend, you can purchase a paired down but still highly enjoyable version of Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign on consoles.

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