Iron Man went from being a somewhat obscure but still beloved Marvel Comics legacy character to lunch box darling overnight in 2008. During that summer, the Jon Favreau directed Iron Man launched, revitalizing the career of Robert Downey Jr. and kickstarting the juggernaut that would come to be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In video games, however, old Shellhead was not having it quite as good. Up to that point, the best game to star the character was an under appreciated Game Boy Advance outing, and for the next few years his name would be used to sell some well meaning but mostly forgettable movie tie-in games.
It’s a different story nowadays as Iron Man is a lock for every major Marvel game, including the recently delayed Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and starred in the phenomenal Marvel’s Iron Man VR. Had things gone slightly differently around the time Marvel’s The Avengers arrived in cinemas though, Iron Man’s rocket to video game stardom would’ve perhaps started much earlier. Recently Ben Hanson, formerly of Game Informer who now runs the independently funded MinnMax, sat down to speak with Christofer Sundberg who helped co-found Just Cause series developer Avalanche Studios. In the interview, Sundberg revealed that Avalanche was 2 years into development on an Iron Man game around a decade ago that eventually got cancelled.
Sundberg, who left Avalanche in 2020 to form his own studio, hopes that one day the studio can collaborate on getting an Iron Man project off the ground again as it was saddening to cease work on the project. As for the reason why the title was cancelled during what can arguably be considered the height of Iron Man mania, it comes down to business. To ship the game during the timeline Disney wanted, close to 100 new people would’ve needed to be hired to get past the finish line. Once the game went gold, a new contract would’ve needed to be secured quickly to keep the new staff employed.
Just Cause is a series known for its over their over-the-top action coupled with vehicular mayhem that encourages the player to simply have fun in its sandbox. Many can empathize with Sundberg and lament what could’ve been as a marriage between what Avalanche Studios does best with the Iron Man license sounds like, well, a match made in heaven. With Sony prepping a new VR platform, it’s an understatement that Marvel’s Iron Man VR either needs a sequel or a slick remaster, but there’s no reason why it can’t exist alongside a more traditional slate of games from Avalanche Studios should they still be on good terms with Disney.