This May, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther and a brand new big-screen Spider-Man will let their fists do the talking in Marvel Studios‘ “Captain America: Civil War.” For fans who prefer to hold this superhero smack-fest in the privacy of their own homes, the latest “Disney Infinity 3.0” playset, “Marvel Battlegrounds,” has just been released. But while “Marvel Battlegrounds” is certainly inspired by “Civil War,” as CBR News learned while visiting Disney Interactive’s offices in Glendale, California, there’s a reason it’s not called the “Captain America: Civil War” playset.
For those who missed the set’s action-packed announcement video, “Marvel Battlegrounds” essentially turns “Disney Infinity 3.0” into a fighting game. Instead of a one-on-one, 2D fighter like “Street Fighter” or “Mortal Kombat,” this smackdown is more frantic, cartoony and 3D, allowing up to four players at a time, closer to “Super Smash Brothers.” It also has a single-player story, but the focus is on such local multiplayer modes as the last player standing “Battleground” and “Super Hero,” in which three players have to team up to take down the fourth, who’s bigger and more powerful.
“Marvel Battlegrounds” lets gamers play with any Marvel characters, dating back to their introduction to the world of the game in “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes.” The set includes a new version of Captain America, designed to look like actor Chris Evans in “Captain America: Civil War,” and joining him as newly released toys are Ant-Man, Black Panther and Vision, all modeled after their “Civil War” appearances. There will also be a new Black Suit Spider-Man figure — not to be confused with his symbiote suit — with more characters due out later this year.
Eight different fighting arenas including “Avengers Training Facility,” “Wakandan Mines” and “Middle of Knowhere” are also being introduced, all of which are semi-destructible and, in some cases, especially hazardous. In the “Brooklyn Train Yard,” for instance, you might get run over by a train, while the “Manhattan Sewers” occasionally has a flash flood.
After playing several rounds of the game — choosing Cap and Loki for two victorious matches, and Hulkbuster and Black Widow for a less than successful one — CBR News sat down with Executive Producer John Vignocchi and Producer Mark Orgel from Disney Interactive, along with Dan Sochin, Senior Producer from United Front Games, to talk about how this free-for-all brawl came together and its role in expanding the “Disney Infinity” toybox.
CBR News: While “Marvel Battlegrounds” is primarily a multiplayer game, it also has a single-player story mode, albeit one that’s not as long as the one in previous playsets. Is it just a training program or is there a full-fledged story?
Dan Sochin: There is a training program at the beginning of the story mode, but only the first ten minutes. The single-player mode really shows you the new characters and the unique locations. But we did want to do the story right, so we worked together to come up with a unique, original story that highlights the new characters.
The story has Loki and Ultron teaming up to create robot versions of Marvel heroes. Brian Michael Bendis wrote the story for “Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes” — was he involved this time around?
John Vignocchi: No, it was written by Bill Rosemann [Marvel Games’ Creative Director], who has been at Marvel for a very long time. He was actually the guy who brought “Guardians of the Galaxy” out of the vault and helped shepherd it into a big, big film.
We’re extremely lucky to work with so many talented writers at The Walt Disney Company who create amazing stories for “Disney Infinity.” Working with Bendis on our 2.0 Edition was a great honor. Marvel Games recently brought on Rosemann as Creative Director, and we worked with Bill and the writing team at Avalanche on crafting the original storyline for Marvel Battlegrounds, which brought all of the Disney Infinity Marvel characters together with amazing environments from across the entire Marvel Universe in one game, which allowed us to offer players the widest selection of characters in any Disney Infinity Play Set.
Given that “Captain America: Civil War” arrives in theaters this May, and that four of the five new characters are based on their appearances in the film, why not just make a “Captain America: Civil War” playset?
Vignocchi: One of the things that was critical for us as a team was to do something for the people who own the Marvel “Disney Infinity” figures. So we knew from the outset that we wanted this playset utilize all of the characters from “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” as well as the new ones we’d released for “Disney Infinity 3.0.” But after speaking to Marvel, and taking a look at the script for “Captain America: Civil War,” we realized that to be true to the movie, we’d have to limit which characters you could and could not use. I don’t think this is a spoiler, but Rocket [Raccoon] doesn’t appear in “Captain America: Civil War,” so you wouldn’t be able to play as him if this was a “Captain America: Civil War” playset. So we decided that the best thing we could do for our fans was to create an original story in which all of the characters could come together.
So even though things happened in the “Rise Against the Empire” playset that didn’t happen in the first three “Star Wars” movies, Marvel decided…
Vignocchi: Oh, it wasn’t just Marvel, it was Marvel and us. We all just felt it wouldn’t be fair to fans if you could have characters who are not in the film appear in our playset.
“Marvel Battlegrounds” comes with a second version of Captain America. You’re also releasing a second Spider-Man, and there are already two Iron Man figures between the standard and Hulkbuster versions. What happens if you and I try to play one of the multiplayer modes in “Marvel Battlegrounds” as the two different versions of the same character?
Sochin: Well, the characters are actually completely different, with each having their own abilities. The game doesn’t recognize Spider-Man and Black Suit Spider-Man as the same character. But it doesn’t matter because you can play with the same characters anyway. You could even play with everyone as the same character if you wanted. So we could play a round with all of four us as Black Suit Spider-Man.
In fighting games like “Street Fighter V,” if you and I are both playing as Chun-Li, they distinguish who is which Chun-Li by putting one in an alternate costume or a different colored costume. What happens in “Marvel Battlegrounds” if both of us want to fight as, say, Black Widow?
Mark Orgel: We have a signifier over the characters, both a number and a color to indicate who is who, but we don’t switch someone to an alternate costume. We have alternate costumes for every characters, but we don’t have three of them.
Vignocchi: We did play around with that idea. At one point we tried using an orange filter, but it just looked so wrong because it wouldn’t be the character anymore. Then it’s Orange Widow and not Black Widow.
It was previously announced that the fourth “Disney Infinity” game will not be released in 2016, but there will be new playsets for “Zootoptia,” “The Jungle Book” and “Star Wars.” Are there any plans for an additional Marvel set this year? Maybe a “Doctor Strange” one when to coincide with the movie’s release in November?
Vignocchi: There are no other Marvel playsets coming out this year, but we will be releasing more Marvel characters. Though we are working on a lot of things.
“Disney Infinity 3.0: Marvel Battlegrounds” is out today for Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Apple TV.