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While the release of the Avengers game was met with a dismissive huff, it may have dropped a massive spoiler regarding the Marvel Universe proper.
Marvel’s Avengers was finally unveiled at Square Enix’s conference at E3, sending fans to the brink of delirium. Those in attendance were also gifted with an exclusive clip which may have given away more than we thought.
Proceeded by Crystal Dynamics Creative Director Shaun Escayg, and Vice President and Creative Director of Marvel Games, Bill Rosemann, the three-minute trailer showed exactly what players were in store for—full control of Earth’s mightiest heroes in the form of Captain America, Thor, Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, Black Widow and (of course) Iron Man.
The story kicks off at A-Day, a celebration dedicated to the Avengers. Fireworks, banners (not Bruce, but he’s there) and that classic Iron Man 2 superhero landing are all on display at the opening of the new west coast headquarters in San Francisco. The festivities are short-lived (like they get to celebrate anything anyway), as an unknown threat emerges with a plan to steal the unusual energy source being housed in the team’s custom Helicarrier.
In typical and predictable fashion, all hell breaks loose. It’s here we get our first glimpse at what we assume to be gameplay (although, if I’m honest, it’s hard to tell if it’s actual gameplay because it’s so damn cinematic), showing off each character’s combat and traversal.
It ends with the iconic ensemble fractured; exiled by the state, still coming to terms with the aftermath of the energy source explosion, blamed for the countless lives lost as well as blaming themselves for the death of their (our) beloved Cap.
After the crowd at E3 decides to stop howling like wild banshees at literally any word that falls from Rosemann or Escayg’s mouths, we are blessed with the star-studded cast voicing our heroes. The stacked team of Nolan North, Troy Baker, Jeff Schine, Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey collectively swoon over playing these roles while introducing themselves—can’t say I blame them either!
The love-infested segment is swiftly pocketed by an exclusive clip: a conversation between a shaggy-haired Tony Stark (North) and remorsefully calculated Bruce Banner (Baker).
It’s within this clip that a specific word is mentioned which contains potential spoilers for the game.
This is a warning to stop reading now in case any shred of this might prove to be true.
Banner states that “the Terrigen reactor was unstable”. Now, this could simply be a term implemented by the writing team to add some context or weight to the energy source’s radiation, but something about the word “Terrigen” had my journalistic spidey-sense tingling as I know I had read it before. It had me wondering whether there was any deeper significance to it in regards to Marvel comic lore.
Upon research and much to my delight, it appears that it is.
So, WTF is a Terrigen reactor?
The reactor part seems to be a Crystal Dynamics creation but “Terrigen” is in fact comic accurate, however, it’s referred to as “Terrigen Crystals”. According to Comic Vine, the crystals are rare substances which, with the right combination of temperature and contact with water, give rise to the Terrigen Mist: a vapour that causes genetic mutation.
In Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity comics, the Terrigen Mist was used on a large scale to create a bomb; spreading the gene-altering spore across the world, mutating those with latent mutant genes and causing illness for the already evolved mutants.
I know that forming a theory over a bit of dialogue can be seen as a bit of a reach, but there is a very important piece of evidence supporting this within the trailer. The energy source which claims Cap’s life (supposedly) is briefly shown before it explodes, and it does resemble that of crystals.
What does this mean?
There are several ways this can go down. Crystal Dynamics could:
- freely adapt Hickman’s comic, having the population of The Bay turn into mutated enemy NPCs for the player to fight against, creating a semi-zombie apocalypse on a much larger scale and/or spawning some well known mutant villains to use as boss battles;
- allow part of the population to survive the mutation, gain powers and collide with the Avengers narratively—this would give the players the option to recruit and build a larger team to oppose the big bad (whatever or whoever that may be);
- have a small group of survivors be found but only those few to be part of the narrative as ally NPCs—it gives the game developers a chance to create their own Inhumans, and therefore gives us the ultimate gift of all: restoring such a beloved comic run to its rightful place in pop-culture, eradicating the foul stench of the failed television show from our memories forever.
- opening the door ever so slightly for the possibility of an X-Men/Avengers sequel—and with the Disney/Fox merger done, and Marvel Studios not wanting to use the mutants yet—it would make perfect sense to give fans a small taste of what could’ve been if the stars had aligned a little bit sooner.
Whether or not the studio placed these specific scenes on purpose or not, hypothesising over and analysing every detail of a new Marvel property has become a time honoured tradition and should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Marvel’s Avengers will no doubt be a smash hit for the newly created Marvel Games, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics. The game releases on PS4, Xbox One and PC on May 15, 2020.