Forget the heroes in Hollywood — consider for a moment how busy the characters of the Marvel Universe have been in video games in 2011: This year has seen the release of Thor: God of Thunder (Sega); Captain America: Super Soldier (Sega); X-Men: Destiny (Activision); Spider-Man: Edge of Time (Activision); a 3DS version of Superhero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet (THQ); and the crossover brawler Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (Capcom), which will be super-sized this November into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. And with The Amazing Spider Man (Activision) just being unveiled at weekend’s New York Comic Con, things don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
For Stan Lee, who co-created so many of Marvel’s icons, watching the ongoing video-game invasion has been just as rewarding as seeing the film projects such as this year’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “X-Men: First Class” and “Thor.” It also makes him eager to see the next wave of games (especially if there’s one about a certain Sorceror Supreme, but more on that in a moment).
“I’ve been indescribably impressed with the movies based on these characters, but to me, the video games are even more difficult to do,” said Lee recently. “In a motion picture you’re telling a straightforward story, which is something I think I know how to do. But a video game has so many different dimensions, angles and directions a story can go all at the same time. I can’t believe how these guys are able to do it.”
Lee is no stranger to video games. He appeared as U.S. Sen. Lieber in Activision’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 in 2009 and earlier this month was kidnapped by two Master Chiefs in an episode of Felicia Day’s Web series “The Guild.” Of course, tongue-in-cheek appearances are a specialty for Lee, who has made more than a dozen cameos in Marvel films over the years.
For Lee, these appearances in films such as “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” are a natural extension of the analog-era social network he sought to create between Marvel’s creators and readers.
“I always liked to make the reader feel as though he and I were friends,” Lee said when asked about some of the witty banter that used to appear both in the monthly “Stan’s Soapbox” feature and in the captions of the comics themselves. “I wanted to keep it friendly and a little informal to make the reader feel that like he’s a part of Marvel, not just some stranger who bought the book, read the story and then throws it away.”
When asked if there’s anything conceptually that he thinks video games should attempt to tackle, Lee’s only suggestion is to go bigger.
“It seems like video games are able to take just about anything that’s in the comics and expand upon them,” said Lee. “The only thing I can think of is to do things that are even bigger than what they’re already doing. Maybe something like Galactus, who’s this demigod that travels through the cosmos destroying planets.”
Lee has said he’s eager to see an Ant-Man film but when it comes to characters of his that he’d like to see star in a video game, Lee has a definite answer.
“Dr. Strange, because he travels to different dimensions and there are a lot of colorful things that he can do,” said Lee. “He’s one character that I think would lend himself beautifully to video games.”
For a taste of what a video game starring the former Sorcerer Supreme would feel like, players will soon be able to fight as Dr. Strange in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
— Mike Winder
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