Capcom has done a tremendous job this generation making their back catalog of franchises and games matter again. From bringing the GameCube exclusive Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0 to non-Nintendo systems for the first time to surprising us with the out of nowhere Disney Afternoon Collection, it’s never been a better time to be a fan of Capcom. Last month alone the company announced and released a compilation of classic arcade brawlers in the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle – which included two titles that never before saw release on the home market – and this week saw the release of Mega Man 11, the first new entry in the series since 2010 that has been getting rave reviews and seen as a true return to form for a series that many thought dead. 2019 will kick off strong for the company with the remake of Resident Evil 2 and a remaster of the original Onimusha, both in January, followed by Devil May Cry 5 in March. The next collection that Capcom should tackle is their series of Marvel fighting games, and new developments in the entertainment industry make this less of a pipe dream than what you would think.
Capcom’s cut their teeth on Marvel fighting games with X-Men: Children of the Atom and characters from that corner of the Marvel Universe would remain in the series as it crossed over with Capcom until Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Since the release of UMVC3 though, things have been tumultuous for mutant kind and another family of Marvel heroes: The Fantastic Four. While it’s all conjecture, Marvel under the ownership of Disney had for a long time removed all traces of both the X-Men and Fantastic Four from merchandise and video games due to Disney previously not owning the motion picture rights to either properties. One of the many problems that caused the last chapter in the Vs. Series, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, to be over before it began was the X-Clusion of X-Men characters in favor of characters that were in the Marvel Cinematic Universe state of films which did not sit well with long time fans.
Things are changing now however, due in no large part to Disney purchasing the film assets of studio 20th Century Fox who held the film rights for the Fantastic Four and X-Men. To show how much Marvel has warmed back up to the franchises they were once keeping in the cold, there’s been a new Fantastic Four comic launched this year – the team hadn’t been seen in a comic since the end of Secret Wars in early 2016 – and Uncanny X-Men is set to relaunch later this year as well. X-Men at the very least haven’t left the comic stands, but the stories being told haven’t quite been up to the standard of the beloved franchise, save things like All New Wolverine and X-Men: Red, both from writer Tom Taylor. At a Wizard World convention in September of this year, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld had this to say about the future of Marvel’s X-Men titles and how it’s set to turn around. From MovieWeb:
“Here’s the deal. Since the X-Men movies came out and Disney didn’t have them, I don’t know if you’ve ever paid attention, but Marvel kind of turned the volume down on the X-Men for almost 20 years. Now that they have them more, what was told to me was, ‘Oh yeah. Our budgets on the X-Men books are back up to what they used to be because now we own them all.’”
All this is to say that Marvel is far likelier to want to rerelease a series of games that heavily feature X-Men characters, and it will be a way to win back fans also after the release of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. While Infinite had its fans, including Comic Gamers Assemble, it did more to hurt the brand than build it. This year was the first year at EVO, the largest fighting game tournament in the world, that a Marvel game wasn’t present since the events inception because of the poor reception of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
Releasing a Marvel fighting compilation would be a good PR move for both Marvel and Capcom, and I’m sure a good business decision for Capcom as there’s no doubt such a product would sell extremely well. A collection that launched earlier this year, the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection that compiled all of the main line Street Fighter and Alpha arcade games thorough to Street Fighter 3: Third Strike in one package, shows that Capcom already has the partner to compile Capcom’s Marvel games: Digital Eclipse. Digital Eclipse has had a terrific relationship with Capcom, first making the Mega Man Legacy Collection which went on to sell over a million units before moving onto the Disney Afternoon Collection and Street Fighter. What makes Digital Eclipse’s work so great is not only how they manage to recreate older games on newer hardware, but the extras they add as well like art and promotional material. Having such things applied to a Marvel fighting game collection would only be the icing or cherry on top of the whole package.
It’s not like Digital Eclipse would be working blind in at least a few cases as some of the previous Marvel fighting games were rereleased on platforms last generation. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was added to digital platforms in 2009 followed by Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins in 2012 which featured Marvel Super Heroes and the first Marvel vs. Capcom. Who knows if code exists for the remaining titles: X-Men: Children of the Atom, X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, but like how the Beat ‘Em Up bundle was sold on having games that were never released in a home market, so too could the inclusion of those games if its possible. Neither of those three games received home ports that were arcade accurate: X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter’s home conversions couldn’t allow tag between characters because of the limitations of the original PlayStation hardware, and while respectable conversions were released for the Sega Saturn for both titles, neither were officially released in North America and limited to import status only.
Capcom has released some of the best new/old games this generation, and a collection of their Marvel fighting games would sit wonderfully next to the likes of the Mega Man Legacy Collection and the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle. About the only thing holding back such a thing happening, other than licensing of course, would be if the source code for some of the games is lost to time. Given Marvel’s new lease on video games after the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man and Capcom’s doubling down on their back catalog, now is the time to win back fans soured on the Marvel vs. Capcom series after Infinite and celebrate games that either have never been released on consoles and PC as they were in arcade’s before, or were released only to disappear from digital platforms. Who knows, if such a hypothetical game sold well, it could lead to a new Marvel vs. Capcom that once again brings in the X-Men, even the Fantastic Four, and of the quality of something like Mega Man 11.