Virgin Media hosted a special preview event of the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers game in London last week, and Shaun Escayg (the game’s creative director/writer) was on-hand to answer questions. We jumped at the chance to ask Escayg about two characters that have been teased slightly in the game’s promotional materials: Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) and Hank Pym (aka Ant-Man).
It has already been confirmed that the shape-shifting young superhero Kamala Khan (aka Ms Marvel) will play a key role in the game, picking up Inhuman superpowers early on and then reuniting Earth’s mightiest heroes a little while later. As well as Kamala, the confirmed heroes that you’ll be able to play as are Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Black Widow.
Although we haven’t seen Captain Marvel in the game’s trailers yet, we have seen some pretty big clues that allude to her: Kamala wears a Captain Marvel TV shirt and hangs a Captain Marvel keyring from her bag. These little pieces of merchandise seem to confirm that, just like in the comics, Kamala will take inspiration from Carol Danvers in the game.
Asked about Captain Marvel’s existence in the world of Marvel’s Avengers game, which is set in a different continuity to the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Escayg said this: “Well, I mean, this is Kamala Khan’s origin story. So it’s really focused on her wanting first to cure herself of this Inhuman disease. And then, by trying to do that, indirectly, [she] sort of assembles these Avengers that she’s a huge fan of. But more importantly, [it’s about] the lessons that she teaches these Avengers on that journey to her own self-discovery and her own becoming of this hero. So the focus or core story of Kamala’s role is sort of reassembly and then self-acceptance and challenging these particular heroes.”
When we asked specifically about the Captain Marvel T-shirt and keyring, Escayg added this: “Yeah, I mean, she’s a super fan of Captain Marvel. So, you know, again, it’s staying true to her DNA and the history of that character. And you know, Carol Danvers is very iconic, and she is the first person that she [Kamala] basically polymorphs into.”
It’s unclear at this stage whether we will see Captain Marvel in the game as a fully-fledged character, but it’s fun to know that she exists in this universe and has an impact on Kamala. Certainly, the traditional Ms Marvel origin story would need a fair bit of rewriting to take Captain Marvel out of it.
Was Escayg tempted at all to follow that line of thought? Did he consider taking Captain Marvel and her position as a role model out of the equation, a bit like the Venom movie that removed Spider-Man from the sinister symbiote’s story? “No, no,” Escayg assured us. “It is integral to have her be that.”
Having had our curiosity abated on that front, and feeling slightly buoyed by what felt like a mini scoop, we asked Escayg about Hank Pym’s role in the game. A younger-than-Michael-Douglas version of the character has been glimpsed in the game’s trailers, wielding something that looks a lot like a big shrink ray.
The yellow detailing on the weapon’s design looks similar to the robots and weapons deployed by the scientists of Advanced Idea Mechanics (aka AIM), who will serve as major opponents to the Avengers throughout the main narrative of the game. After being caught up in a tragedy during the game’s opening mission, the Avengers will disband and allow AIM’s scientific peace-keeping solutions to rise up in their place.
With all of that in mind, here’s what Escayg said about Hank Pym’s place in the game: “Well, you know, the world without the Avengers is basically a world dominated by AIM and it sort of pushes this ‘the cost of freedom’ question, right? Or the cost of security. So AIM has now dominated this new environment, with this vacuum created with no Avengers, and everyone is at the mercy of AIM. And as a fellow scientist, Hank Pym becomes kind of wrapped up in the same sort of plight as the Avengers. Without giving any spoilers, right? He was sort of bought into what the AIM philosophy at one point was, but as it has corrupted itself, he has now moved away from that perspective to fight the good fight.”
We don’t know if Hank Pym will suit up as Ant-Man in the game, but now we understand more about he fits into the wider narrative of the Avengers facing off with AIM. More will surely be revealed when the game launches on 15 May 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, Windows PC and Google Stadia.
We also spoke to Escayg about the lengthy Marvel’s Avengers publicity trail, including the initial backlash to the game’s character designs. You can click here to read that, if you like!