Bill Rosemann, VP and Head of Creative at Marvel Games, has gone on the record stating that there’s no interconnected Marvel Gaming Universe akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite a statement that all console games under the “Marvel’s” umbrella take place in their own reality though, three of them: Marvel’s Spider-Man; Marvel’s Iron Man VR and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales talk to one another, with the only outlier – so far – being Marvel’s Avengers.
Before Marvel’s Avengers launched last year, the somewhat controversial announcement was made that Spider-Man would be added to the game, with the caveat being he was exclusive to the PlayStation family of consoles. In the PlayStation Blog post that addressed Spider-Man’s addition, there was no indication that this take on the character would be the one that had appeared in one Sony published game and was about to appear in another. Initially, the story in Marvel’s Avengers made it such that bringing in Sony’s take on Spider-Man would be incredibly challenging, however with the two most recent Operation story expansions, the development team may have provided a hint as to how it can be done somewhat seamlessly.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR TAKING AIM AND FUTURE IMPERFECT FOLLOW
The catalyst for the events of Marvel’s Avengers is what comes to be known as A-Day. On that event, a Helicarrier powered by a new, untested energy source called Terrigen explodes over San Francisco, destroying the city and blanketing it in Terrigen Mist, a substance which causes individuals like Kamala Khan to become Inhuman and develop extraordinary abilities. The remainder of the game takes place five years later when Kamala, upon learning of the machinations of A.I.M, the self-appointed protectors of humanity in the absence of the Avengers, goes on a journey to bring the Avengers back together.
In both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Avengers Tower stands proudly tall in Manhattan. This stands in contrast to the events of Marvel’s Avengers where upon the team’s dissolution, the assets of Stark Industries, including Avengers Tower, becomes property of A.I.M. Given this, it’s tricky to add “Marvel’s” Spider-Man to the team without spoiling what’s essentially to come in games that are either in development, like a Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, or ones that could come to pass like other spin-offs and future sequels. After all, you can’t exactly have Spider-Man speaking about villains he has yet to face, that is, unless Marvel Games, Insomniac and Sony have been busy working on a roadmap of their very own.
The solution to this continuity problem is that you don’t take Spider-Man from the present or future, but rather the past.
In the post-launch Operation missions which brought in Kate Bishop and her mentor, Clint Barton, it is revealed that the alien race known as the Kree are coming to invade Earth. In Future Imperfect, the Avengers, equipped with the ability of time-travel, venture to the future to see a wasteland littered with the horrors of the war against the Kree. Ruling over all is the Maestro, a version of the Hulk driven mad with power upon absorbing excess radiation from nuclear fallout. The Avengers, now in possession of this knowledge, must work to prevent these events from coming to pass.
Marvel’s Spider-Man doesn’t retell the origin of the character and how he got his powers, instead it takes place eight years into the character’s superhero career. As Marvel’s Avengers has already established the concept of time travel, the game now has a window of time in Spider-Man’s life that the developers at Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal can play around with.
There are many ways that Spider-Man can come into Marvel’s Avengers without causing any major continuity headaches to Sony and Insomniac’s plans. The Avengers, for example, could travel back to a time when they knew they were off-world and end up partnering with Spider-Man on an adventure. Conversely, an experiment gone wrong could also mistakenly bring Spider-Man, and perhaps an already established villain from his rogue’s gallery, into the Avengers present. In that scenario, Peter, when he learns of what the team is facing, could decide that it’s his responsibility to not return home just right away when he knows he could make a difference.
What’s always been the worst part about Spider-Man coming, eventually, to Marvel’s Avengers is that players on Xbox, Google Stadia and PC are getting an inferior version of the game, which is true. There’s nothing that can change that. However, Marvel Games and their partners can at least mitigate this issue somewhat by allowing Spider-Man’s inclusion to be a time displaced side-story. Yes, users on three different platforms still won’t gain access to Spider-Man, but at the very least an Operation done in this way doesn’t add that much weight to the grander story. Also, for those who simply have no interest in playing Marvel’s Avengers but like Insomniac’s games, they’re not losing anything either.
Spider-Man’s journey to Marvel’s Avengers is still a ways off. During a recent event held by Square Enix, a roadmap for the remainder of the year placed Black Panther as the next hero to join the roster either later in the summer or into the fall. On the same day this news hit, Crystal Dynamics studio head Scot Amos stated that Spider-Man wasn’t going to arrive before the Wakandian King but was still actively being worked on.
When Spider-Man eventually does meet up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, he could very well be a built from the ground up character meant to work within that universe. However, if Marvel Games wished to join Square Enix’s title with that of the other three “Marvel’s” outings, they’ve already laid the ground work on how it can be done. Hopefully we’ll learn more about Spider-Man soon, and even play as him in Marvel’s Avengers before the end of the year.
Marvel’s Avengers is available now on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series S/X, Google Stadia and PC.