While we’ve heard rumors about a Marvel game being developed by the XCOM team at Firaxis, nothing could have quite prepared us for the official reveal of Midnight Suns at Gamescom 2021.
The fact that Midnight Suns isn’t really an XCOM-style game may be the talking point that ends up defining the early conversation about this project, but the first thing that will probably jump out at you about this game is its name. Who or what are the Midnight Suns? Why are they seemingly so concerned about a character named Lilith? Who is the mysterious hero that is so prominently featured in the game’s debut trailer?
While many elements of this game might remain a mystery until the project’s currently scheduled March 2022 release date, here are a few of the answers to the burning questions you probably have about Midnight Suns‘ lore and Marvel ties.
Who are the Midnight Sons?
The Midnight Sons is a somewhat odd group of Marvel superheroes who first appeared in 1992’s Ghost Rider (Vol. 2) Issue #28. They went on to star in a few big events (most notably the “Rise of the Midnight Sons” arc) and would occasionally appear in crossover titles featuring members of the group and associated characters. The original version of the group was essentially disbanded during the mid-90s, but a different version of the Midnight Sons later appeared in the Marvel Zombies series.
The Midnight Sons were formed by Ghost Riders Danny Ketch and Johnny Blaze after they learned that Lilith (more on her in a bit) was being resurrected and intended to use her incredible demonic abilities to (you guessed it) take over the Earth. It’s honestly a relatively obscure storyline by Marvel standards (especially if we’re talking about storylines that have or are about to receive a pretty significant adaptation), but the story has developed a cult following over the years largely due to its somewhat strange collection of heroes as well as its supernatural style and dark tones.
Actually, Midnight Sons’ supernatural elements may be the group/story’s defining trait. It really seems like the entire Midnight Sons concept was Marvel’s most concentrated attempt at emphasizing the supernatural elements of their universe. While the group and their adventures didn’t last long, it’s hard to deny that the idea of focusing on that sometimes overlooked supernatural side of the Marvel multiverse is fascinating.
Why is the Game Called Midnight Suns and not Midnight Sons?
This really seems to be one of the biggest non-gameplay questions about Midnight Suns that people have at the moment, which makes it that much more frustrating that we don’t currently have a definitive answer to it. While the Midnight Suns team is starting to share details about the upcoming game (and more information is on the way), this is one of the elements of the project that they’re clearly keeping under wraps.
However, it is very much worth noting that Midnight Suns‘ creative director Jake Solomon has said that Marvel approached developer Firaxis with the vague idea of partnering up and Solomon chose the Midnight Sons group/storyline due to his fondness for that series and his desire to focus on some of Marvel’s supernatural characters.
So far, it certainly seems like Marvel has given Firaxis permission to essentially create their own universe (as well as a new character to star in it) much like Insomniac did with Marvel’s Spider-Man and Square Enix is currently doing with Marvel’s Avengers. That tends to suggest that the Midnight Suns name is a reflection of the ways that this game will differ from the original Midnight Sons stories, but we’ll likely have to wait until closer to the game’s release date for a more definitive explanation of the difference between the names.
Which Superheroes Are On the Midnight Suns Roster?
It sounds like Midnight Suns will eventually feature 12-13 playable heroes, but these are the members of the game’s roster that have been confirmed so far:
- Ghost Rider
- Dr. Strange
- Iron Man
- Captain America
- Captain Marvel
- The Hunter
If the name “The Hunter” doesn’t ring any bells, that’s because they’re the player character that Firaxis created specifically for the purposes of this game (with Marvel’s approval). Otherwise, you’ll likely be at least vaguely familiar with most of the other names on this roster.
Interestingly, though, few of those heroes ever officially joined or assisted the Midnight Sons in the comics. While Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange, and Blade were all key members of the group at one point, it seems like Firaxis decided to bring in Captain Marvel, Wolverine, Captain America, and Iron Man to give the group a little more star power.
Actually, it sounds like one of the main internal conflicts in the game will be the tension between some of the bigger stars on the Midnight Suns roster and a few of the less famous members of the group. They’ll all interact in a shared hub world called The Abbey that players will be able to explore as The Hunter. It even sounds like you’ll be able to give characters gifts and learn more about them, which kind of reminds me of a similar system featured in Hades.
Who is Lilith?
There are actually two major characters named Lilith in the Marvel Comics multiverse: one who is Dracula’s daughter and one is known as the “Mother of All Demons.” The Lilith featured in Midnight Suns is the latter (though the former would have also made sense given the name and supernatural vibes).
Here’s how Firaxis describes Lilith’s role in the game:
“Through a twisted marriage of magic and science, the nefarious force known as Hydra has revived Lilith, Mother of Demons, after centuries of slumber. Lilith will stop at nothing to complete an ancient prophecy and summon her evil master, Chthon. Pushed to the brink, the Avengers desperately look to fight fire with Hellfire by enlisting the help of the Midnight Suns – Nico Minoru, Blade, Magik, and Ghost Rider – young heroes with powers deeply rooted in the supernatural, formed to prevent the very prophecy Lilith aims to fulfill. Together, they resurrect an ancient warrior – the Hunter, Lilith’s forsaken child and the only hero known to have ever defeated her.”
It certainly sounds like Lilith’s role in Midnight Suns will be relatively similar to her role in Midnight Sons (she’s still an incredibly powerful figure whose resurrection threatens the world), but the small differences in the details are fascinating. For instance, Hydra wasn’t really a major player in the original Midnight Sons comics, and that description makes a clear distinction between the new Midnight Suns group and The Avengers (The Runaways will also apparently be featured in the game). That seems to help explain the lore behind the game’s initially odd roster and might even help explain why this game isn’t simply using the Midnight Sons name.
It’s also certainly interesting to see the name Chthon mentioned in the game’s official plot. The ancient entity seems to be the game’s true “biggest bad,” though it should be said that it sounds like Lilith will still be the star of the show and the more than capable foe that you’ll spend most of your time opposing.