The Avengers are finally making the jump from Marvel's movie universe to their very own video game, but the first trailer to debut at E3 has left fans with a lot of questions. So we're here to explain everything they may have missed in the first trailer for Marvel's Avengers.
Marvel's biggest heroes have been entrusted to the talented developers at Crystal Dynamics, having proven their powers by successfully rebooting the iconic Tomb Raider game series. The technical quality of this superhero adventure isn't in doubt, but the first trailer for the Avengers game showed less than fans had once hoped. Unfortunately no discernible gameplay footage was unveiled alongside the trailer, but the first hints of the story, style, cast, and the stark differences between this game and the movies were on full display. To make sure fans didn't miss one detail, we're breaking down the major beats of the first Avengers trailer.
The Avengers Head To The West Coast
Opening on a shot of a Quinjet flying by the West Coast Avengers Tower in San Francisco, our familiar heroes have been assembled on a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier for Avengers Day; a holiday for the general public to get some quality face-time with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. For better or worse (we'll get to the 'worse' shortly) the game is clearly drawing inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But being that these superhero stars are always so busy saving the universe, fans have yet to really see The Avengers interact with the civilians they protect in any meaningful way - at least in the movies.
That being said, at what stage in their careers are these Avengers currently at, anyway? How many cosmic threats on the level of Thanos or Galactus has this iteration successfully thwarted? If they are indeed veteran heroes akin to their comic book counterparts, having them interact with the public could humanize these larger than life heroes in a way the movies never really attempted. But just as the party is getting started, an untimely explosion is seen pluming in the distance on the Golden Gate Bridge, and Captain America wastes no time in dispatching Thor and Iron Man to go investigate.
These Sure Aren't The MCU Avengers
We do want to quickly address the weird-looking elephant in the room. Memes abound as fans across the internet, us included, can’t help but shake the feeling that the character models of The Avengers leave something to be desired. While the MCU has clearly been a successful representation of these characters, it’s also set a very high and iconic bar... and falling even a little bit short is immediately noticeable. As such, Captain America looks like a weird chunky SWAT officer, Thor is looking more like a Roman God than a Norse one, and Black Widow is looking remarkably similar to Lord Farquad from Shrek. Iron Man and Hulk/Banner look mostly like they should, but the overall impression is undeniably underwhelming.
Perhaps it’s the case that we’ve become far too accustomed to their MCU counterparts, and time alone will help fans adapt to these new designs. But you can all but guarantee the petitions for a redesign, similar to the latest debacle over Sonic the Hedgehog's controversial new design in his upcoming movie. Either way the game is still a year out from release, so it’s definitely too early to be making any final judgements. These models could very well be temporary placeholder designs used until all the performance capture kinks have been ironed out, and while that may be wishful thinking, the developers' solid track record means we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Attack on The Golden Gate Bridge
Upon arriving at the scene, one explosion turns into many as a volley of cacophonous blasts run the entire length of the iconic San Francisco bridge. To make matters worse, Iron Man is surprised to find out that the bridge is being besieged by an army of mercenaries using Stark-esque repulsor weaponry. Stark Tech falling into the wrong hands is familiar narrative territory as it’s the very basis for Tony’s character arc in the movies. However, there’s also the possibility that these weapons aren't Stark-made at all, perhaps instead supplied by one of Stark's competitors like Justin Hammer?
The movie version of Marvel's Universe has offered the same suspects as the comics: there's A.I.M., or perhaps in this version of the Avengers' story, HYDRA have replicated his arsenal in be attempt to use it against him. Since the game may be set quite early in the team's official crime fighting career, just about anything is possible. But it would sure explain why Tony seems to take this mission's failure harder than the other Avengers...
Which Avengers Will Players Get To Control?
Seeing as they might need some backup, the trailer then brings Bruce Banner into the fray, jumping out the back of a Quinjet with The Incredible Hulk landing in his stead (a scene movie fans have now seen adapted in both The Incredible Hulk and Thor: Ragnarok with... differing degrees of success). From here on out the footage offers several splash page equivalent looks at of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow going to work, kicking some serious mercenary butt. After hearing some buzz about the behind-closed-doors demo shown to press at E3, we are fairly certain that this sequence is the most in line with what the moment to moment gameplay will actually feel like. If we had to guess, it almost appears that each of the game's heroes are taking on the roles of more traditional RPGs.
Iron Man looks to be on crowd control duty, firing lasers and missiles at enemies to keep them in check, not unlike a magic user, if we’re using Dungeons & Dragons as a point of reference. Then there's Thor, the Paladin/Fighter hybrid, laying down as much hurt as he can while still utilizing his godly powers to do more than just melee damage. On the sneakier side of things, Black Widow fills the role of the rogue - using dexterity and gadgets to incapacitate her foes - while the raging tank, Hulk, lays waste to all who stand against him... even if it’s a literal tank. It raises the question: will players be swapping between each role, be forced to choose one, or divide roles among their co-op partners? And how much of the overall game will follow this layout?
The Avengers' New Villain, Taskmaster
Just when it seems like the heroes have the situation under control, the copycat villain Taskmaster is seen triggering some sort of super weapon, crippling the bridge and causing the Helicarrier’s power source to overload. Since the masked villain has yet to be adapted to the MCU, fans are probably going to need a bit of a refresher on this baddie, and what his appearance suggests about the overall plot of the Avengers' game. The first question being: could Taskmaster be the mastermind behind this massive attack?
All things considered, that doesn't seem too likely. While Taskmaster's photographic muscle memory and reflexes which allow him to copy someone’s fighting style are no joke, the villain tends to be more of a gun for hire than a Machiavellian schemer. As such, it makes perfect sense that he would lead the charge with a group of mercenaries. And remember, amidst all of the chaos of this trailer ruining "A-Day"--what he is actually trying to accomplish isn't totally clear. And if the impact on the innocent people of San Francisco is as bad as it seems... that's not really Taskmaster's style, either. So who might actually be pulling the strings here?
The Death of Captain America (For Real)
Before any of the Avengers can do anything about the super weapon's growing charge, least of all Captain America who is still on board, the Helicarrier explodes, causing it to plummet into the San Francisco Bay, taking Cap with it. What’s worse is that when it crashes, catastrophic surges of energy are seen cascading throughout the city, causing massive irreparable damage and who knows how many casualties. In the wake of the tragic disaster, the trailer picks back up several months later, with San Fransisco in ruin and The Avengers in no better shape themselves.
With Cap assumed dead and a disheveled Tony Stark blaming himself and The Avengers for the events that took place, it’s the perfect low point to begin a redemption arc... And return The Avengers to their former glory (even if it's going to feel eerily familiar to the recent time jump in Avengers: Endgame, right down to the San Francisco memorials).
Do These Avengers Actually Quit?
With Thor's hammer left abandoned at Captain America’s memorial statue, and Tony now in the middle of what looks like a nervous breakdown, how will the heroes ultimately rebound? With Marvel’s big 3 out of commission, maybe this whole premise is one big red herring... and the game's real Avengers lineup will be a fresh cast of characters? That may be wishful thinking for those who really dislike their designs, but the footage from Square Enix also gave a brief glimpse of Hank Pym shrinking a giant death robot... so we’ll at least get to see Ant-Man at some point.
Fans of Marvel's resident sharpshooter will be quick to notice the conspicuous absence of Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. It's possible that he has yet to be recruited or worse yet, already fallen prey to their enemies. Either way, we hope we eventually get our hands on that bow and arrow, whether it's playing as Clint himself or even his protege Kate Bishop! And who knows? Perhaps fan favorites like Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider will join the team at some point when the heroes of the trailer stand down defeated. Of course, the implications of Thor leaving his hammer at the memorial to his own worst failure are quickly erased by the sight of lightning striking it,then flying off into the god of thunder's hand. But let's be honest: Cap can't stay dead for good, since these are comic book characters, after all. Whether through time travel, magic or some other plot device, it's a safe bet to see most, if not all of the Avengers in action by the end of the game.
Bring on The Marvel Villains
The very end of the trailer is a borderline sizzle reel of some of the game's biggest action beats, including Black Widow beating up a big mystery robot (possibly Ultron?) and an iconic clash between Hulk and his long time nemesis, The Abomination. These eye popping moments made us wonder, will this game be a variable villain-palooza on a hero-by-hero basis? Or could someone like Baron Zemo be amassing The Masters of Evil to wipe out the Avengers once and for all? Whatever the case, one of the final glimpses of the game we get to see in the trailer is that of Iron Man hurtling though space, dodging all sorts of debris. Nothing in the trailer until this point has suggested any amount of cosmic influence, primarily focusing on The Avengers' earthly conflicts. But could this tease of Tony in space be a hint at a much more serious extraterrestrial threat?
The Avengers' Biggest Villain Yet?
What. Is. Coming. Out. Of. The. Ground?! The absolute last clip we see is of our heroes standing before something absolutely gargantuan as it erupts from the ground beneath. What massive enemies in the pantheon of Avengers villains could so easily dwarf our heroes? Honestly there are more than you might think. Between the Destroyer Armor and Frost Giants, Thor in particular has a penchant for large adversaries - but we doubt any of the are on display here. And while classic Avengers heels Galactus and Fin Fang Foom are certainly big bad dudes, they're not exactly the subterranean type. It's a bit of a deep cut but this mysterious foe might actually be one of the monstrous minions of Mole Man as seen on the cover of Fantastic Four #1! Then again, there is also a chance that the ominous tone of the trailer could actually be a complete misdirect and it could instead be Giant Man or Goliath growing out of the rubble to save the day. Hopefully for our heroes, it's the latter option.
The Avengers Voice Cast is World Class
With voice acting legends Nolan North and Troy Baker lending their talent to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner respectively, fans shouldn't be so quick to dismiss this voice cast as second rate. In reality, the actors portraying The Avengers here are a veritable who's-who of industry veterans. In fact, several of them have actually been playing these characters for just as long as their MCU counterparts. Take Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey, who play Thor and Black Widow. Both actors have been Marvel's go-to voice talent for these characters since 2012, so honestly, they make the most sense.
Over the past decade, Tony Stark has become far more of a quippy and sarcastic character than he ever was in the comics, thanks primarily to the incomparable character-defining performance by Robert Downey, Jr. in the MCU. That being said, who better to voice him in game than Nolan North--whose claim to fame is the charmingly quick witted treasure hunter Nathan Drake of Uncharted fame? Naturally, most fans are probably going to want the movie actors to reprise their roles in the game. But with those salaries growing ever more astronomical, it simply isn't realistic to expect them to show up.
What The Trailer Doesn't Tell Us About The Game
All that narrative goodness aside, the first Avengers trailer doesn't reveal much about the actual game play. It's clearly a third person action adventure game from all evidence and reports, which isn't too shocking. However the developers did confirm that this Avengers product will be employing the live service model, in the vein of Destiny and The Division. As such, comic book fans and gamers alike will get the chance to select their favorite Avenger and team up with their friends to battle the forces of evil on an ongoing basis.
The developers have also gone on record saying that they won’t be implementing loot boxes or anything of the divisive pay-to-win, or loot box microtransactions going forward, which is a refreshing choice (but no longer something gamers will take for granted, even once the developers themselves suggest it). Instead, the team is promising a wave of free post-release Avengers content, including additional missions and characters.
Marvel’s Avengers is the game fans have waited years for, and with a release date of May 15, 2020, fans will still have to wait a little while before sinking their teeth into this new Avengers adventure. Luckily, those fans who can't wait the full year for their next dose of superhero action, the long awaited action RPG Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is set to launch on July 19th, 2019 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.