There’s a certain, very loud, subsection of the internet who are upset for some unknown reason about the announcement of Ms. Marvel as a playable heroine in the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers and the role she plays in the game’s narrative. From what’s known of the story so far, after a tragic event known as A-Day occurs – something seen in the reveal trailer for Marvel’s Avengers – an Avengers presumably falls and the team disbands. In the story trailer released during New York Comic Con this month, it was revealed that Kamala Kahn, the new Ms. Marvel, gained Inhuman abilities during the A-Day event and also has evidence that A.I.M, the super-science group that has risen in The Avengers absence, is not as altruistic as they seem. Thus Kamala sets out to reassemble Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and get to the bottom of things.
What’s brilliant about how the character of Ms. Marvel will presumably be used in Marvel’s Avengers – the game is still many months away after all – is that she will be the audience surrogate character. You would have had to been living under a rock this past decade or so to not know about The Avengers and the characters that make up its roster, but we know very little about this new take on the material as envisioned by developers Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal. For those unfamiliar with the character of Kamala Kahn, a wonderful new addition to the Marvel Universe, she’s a hardcore superhero fangirl who before getting powers of her own, spent her time writing fan fiction about the larger than life personalities who exist in her own back yard. This is something that’s also true for Marvel’s Avengers as it’s already been confirmed that the reason she’s present during the events of A-Day is that she won a fan-fiction writing contest.
As someone outside of the circle of The Avengers, Kamala can organically ask questions that will fill in catch relevant pieces of backstory that will help flesh out the universe. It wouldn’t exactly make that much sense after all for Bruce Banner to be asking Thor, a fellow Avenger, questions that he already has the answers to as they’ve more than likely run countless missions with one another. Kamala, who’s new to this life and idolizes The Avengers, is essentially us, as the audience, given digital life. For those who polish their tinfoil hats every morning and think this is the first time this has ever been attempted, they should probably replay a beloved classic Marvel Comics video game: 2004’s X-Men Legends.
The catalyst for the Raven developed action-RPG is a young mutant named Alison Crestmere, who would eventually take on the mantle of Magma. In the game’s intro cinematic, it shows Alison’s latent mutant abilities manifesting and both the X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood reaching out to sway Alison to their respective sides. As you can probably guess, Alison chooses to leave with the X-Men and the first thing the player does after the action heavy first stage is explore the Xavier Institute. The X-Men were easily one of the hottest comic book properties at the time of X-Men Legends released, not only because of the popularity of the books themselves, but also due to the success of the first and second feature films.
Anyone picking up a game with the X-Men license presumably has some knowledge of characters like Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Wolverine, etc., but Raven, like the developers of Marvel’s Avengers, were building an X-Men Universe of their own, borrowing from the mainline comics, the new-at-the-time Ultimate Universe and of course the films – Patrick Stewart even voiced Charles Xavier in Legends. The player, as Magma, explores Xavier’s school, familiarizing themselves with their new surroundings and getting to know a very diverse group of people, united in a common goal to see humanity and mutants co-exist.
This group of Ms. Marvel dissenters have also come to believe for some hilarious reason that she’s now the only playable character in the game, which is completely not true. For starters, the name of Square-Enix’s game is Marvel’s Avengers not Marvel’s Avenger, or Marvel’s Avengers Origins: Ms. Marvel. There’s obviously more than one playable character, and the game also supports co-op, which would be pretty boring, not to mention pointless, if you just played as Ms. Marvel. For some time now the game has been shown to the public who have gotten hands-on time with the game. The demo is from the opening sequence seen during the reveal trailer from this year’s E3 and in it you can play as Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow.
I’m by no means a game developer, I merely write about them, but I can safely assume that valuable time and resources wouldn’t be spent programming mechanics for five very unique characters if there was no intention to let players use them. Similarly, character bio videos have been published to the official YouTube channel of Marvel’s Avengers spotlighting characters like Captain America and Hulk. In these videos, you can see alternate costumes – Cap’s Secret Empire suit and Joe Fixit for Hulk – and again, why bother creating these assets if players can’t interact with them in any way?
What these people are probably mistaking Marvel’s Avengers for is another Marvel video game: X-Men Destiny. In Destiny, you can interact with both the X-Men and the Brotherhood, however you can’t play as them. Instead you pick from one of three new characters designed for the game to navigate the story. When done right, such as the massively successful DC Universe Online which just recently got ported to the Nintendo Switch, this idea can work, however one of the many criticisms of X-Men: Destiny is that you couldn’t play as any of the iconic characters from the comics. It’s highly doubtful that the developers of Marvel’s Avengers are looking to repeat the mistakes of X-Men: Destiny.
Ms. Marvel coming to Marvel’s Avengers shouldn’t make insecure people feel like they aren’t going to get to play as their favorite Avenger, because there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. Ms. Marvel will indeed not only bring an interesting new power set to the table when the game arrives early next year, but she’ll also help to build the world out beyond what we’ll see in the game and the prelude comic in December. As advertised, the game will assuredly let you play as multiple superheroes and not just one character, that for some reason is cause for unwarranted controversy when the role she’ll fulfill is something that was already done with much success over fifteen years ago.
Marvel’s Avengers arrives May 15th, 2020 for the PlayStation, 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC.