It was three years ago. In early January 2013, Marvel and Square Enix, the Video Game Giant, revealed they had entered a multi-year contract. The contract entailed a partnership which would begin with the Avengers Title Game with the developers being Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics. These companies were the developer studios that came up with the massively popular Tomb Raider reboot. Bringing in such big name companies into the fold for venturing into a rather untapped segment of the franchise business – video games, was considered to be a master-stroke. With the hype surrounding movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the entire internet was head over heels over the newly announced Marvel’s Game franchise.
There were several questions regarding the decision though. The primary question was – with the massive marketing and advertising vehicle of Disney, why did it take Marvel so long to lock on to the video game business? The Marvel Cinematic Universe began in the year 2008. By the end of MCU’s phase 1, Marvel had already established a viable and extremely profitable superhero universe which was ripe to be milked by creating additional merchandise. Any blockbuster franchise’s primary step to creating additional revenue was by turning itself into a video game series of its own based on the core story line from the movies. Tie-in Video games are not a new concept. The X-Men Movies, another Marvel property, have already done it multiple times.
So why was Marvel Studios so late to the party with the Avengers? As it turns out, it wasn’t. There were plans by Marvel for tie-in video games as early as 2012 right after the release of The Avengers. On the 3rd of June, 2020, THQ released their secret plans to create an Avengers game as part of a partnership with Marvel Studios. THQ Incorporated shut down before their plans could reach fruition. The cancelled Avengers game also had some of its footage leaked into the internet. Fans even had the chance to witness some of the early game play and imagine how the final version of the game could have been if THQ had not closed down.
This was a big revelation. Marvel, and especially its daddy, Disney, are not someone who would let any money they invested go to waste. If THQ shut down, there must have been contingencies in place to transfer the terms of the contract to another studio. What happened? Why was the game abandoned mid-way? And more importantly – was this cancelled game project better than the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers? Fortunately the internet has all the answers and we have compiled them all for you.
Let’s dive in.
Originally a Third Person Shooter
THQ and Marvel Studios entered into a partnership before 2009. Because of the exclusivity of the agreement between the two parties, THQ had advanced knowledge of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Avengers game they were developing had already entered pre-production phases. It was a third person shooter as per Marvel’s request. But then the game studio made a risky gamble. THQ wanted to stand apart. There were many Marvel games and almost all of them were third person shooters. To ensure their game remains memorable, it was turned into a first person shooter mid-way into pre-production. Players could now get into the shoes of the Avengers and look at the virtual world through their eyes. It was a gamble but it was a unique way to differentiate. THQ did have guts to make such a risky call.
The Avengers game was initially designed as a third person to reflect the co-operative team work based game play. That is how the Avengers fought in the movies. They used each other’s strength and abilities to augment their own offensive and defensive attributes. Turning it into a first person meant there has to be some revolutionary change in game design to make way for the modifications. Players would start out with the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. As the game progressed, they would have unlocked Black Widow, Hawkeye and Ms Marvel as playable characters.
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And then tragedy struck THQ headquarters. Many of their games consecutively bombed. As a result, their future projects were being shut down due to financial projects. The highly resource consuming Avengers game was one of the first to face the guillotine. As a last resort, THQ tried to sell the game directly to Marvel. Those talks fell through and the game was forever lost in development hell.
Was based on Secret Invasion
The game was a tie-in in all but name. It was supposed to be released along with the Avengers movie in 2012. But the stories in the two projects were vastly dissimilar. One was about the Avengers coming together to stop Loki and his army of Chitauri from taking over New York and the rest of the World. The game was based on a well-known comic book arc called Secret Invasion.
The Skrulls were the primary antagonists of the video game. They were not portrayed as refugees escaping an expansionist empire. They were down and dirty villains who had come to Earth to conquer it by all means. This gave a lot of Secret Invasion vibes. That is probably because Brian Michael Bendis, who was involved in that comic book arc, was the one who wrote the story for the game.
The Skrulls would have been responsible for secretly infiltrating Earth’s various governments and replacing many heroes like Spider-Woman and Wolverine with impostors. This would have served as a way to show some popular Non-MCU superheroes in the game for additional market value. Stronger Super Skrulls were also being considered to be a part of the roster. The game had all the ingredients to be a massive success.
The game will remain an enigma for now and forever. The failed project represents a bygone era of what was and what could have been. Imagine if Marvel really did purchase the game from THQ? Could it have become a cult-classic? We like to think it had all the potential to be one. It is a really sad ending to a really intriguing game project.