Late last month, Marvel and Disney Interactive made it official, following speculation and teases: Marvel characters are coming to the “2.0” version of the “Disney Infinity” video game franchise, in a bit of corporate synergy fans of both properties had been hoping would happen.
“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” is scheduled for release in fall 2014 on a variety of platforms, both those supported by the original “Infinity” and current-gen consoles Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Like the original “Infinity,” physical figures will activate characters within the free-ranging sandbox video game world, starting with the six movie Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor and Hawkeye. More Marvel characters are slated to be announced in the future, with Spider-Man, Rocket Raccoon and Groot all already seen in preview footage.
CBR News spoke to TQ Jefferson, Marvel’s Vice President of Production, Games, at the announcement event in Hollywood. Jefferson said he’s looking forward to the game appealing to “all ages and all types,” something he feels is an inherently Marvel trait.
CBR News: TQ, for you in your position at Marvel, was it easy to see the potential of “Disney Infinity” right away? That notion of, “How cool would it be if Marvel characters were in this?”
TQ Jefferson: I think we saw the potential for it from the start — not just for bringing a unique gameplay experience to Marvel, and for Marvel to bring a gameplay experience to “Infinity,” but a means of breaking out of the hardcore gameplay niche that Marvel tends to drop into. “Disney Infinity” appeals to all ages and all types. It’s a family play, and I think that’s something that works within Marvel’s DNA.
While it does seem different from that traditional Marvel audience, the footage released also gives the impression that this could broaden the audience for “Infinity” even further. Still being all ages, but maybe attracting some older players in the more typical Marvel demographic. Do you see that potential?
I think so. I think just to realize Marvel in this context, they had to introduce a lot of changes and improvements and updates to the game code and the software. The game is doing destruction on a scale that has never really been done before. Flight and locomotion have definitely been upgraded and changed to accommodate Marvel characters. There are things that had to happen to the software in order to deliver a true Marvel experience.
I think Marvel has an all ages appeal. Hulk digging his hands into the building in order to climb up, and Iron Man using his repulsers and his Unibeam, Thor throwing the hammer at Frost Giants — I think these are all things that people of all ages understand about Marvel characters, and it’s going to draw in more mid-core game players. At least that’s our hope — that it’s going to have a much more mass appeal.
Marvel has made it clear that while it’s represented across these different worlds, it’s always important for it to be in a consistent fashion. What had to happen with making sure this was the right way to introduce Marvel characters into “Infinity”?
We’ve had key creators and content generators in Marvel involved with “Infinity” from the start. Joe Quesada, our chief creative officer, he’s been a driving force in just the look and feel and the authenticity of the characters. Brian Michael Bendis, who’s our big gun as a creator, he was brought on board very early to pen the playsets and the voices for the characters, and make sure that the tone and everything feels authentic.
There are a number of other people. Myself, I sit on the creative committee for it — Cort Lane, one of our supervising producers from television. Chris Fondacaro, from our creative services group. All these people feed into this project, and bring their areas of expertise to make sure that Cap’s costume looks right; there are the right number of rings on Captain America’s shield. These are all things that are small, but if one of them is off, it’s like an explosion. It’s very obvious. Everyone is working very closely with the Avalanche team and [Disney Interactive], every step of the way, from reviewing scripts to the poses for the toys, the character selection, the story premise for the playsets, all of these things we feed into, to make sure that everything’s authentically Marvel.
The original “Infinity” had a fairly aggressive rollout in that a lot of characters were available fairly quickly. Is the plan for a similarly rapid rollout for the Marvel characters?
I can’t really speak to the cadence of character rollout, but there are going to be over 20 characters in the Marvel series. We just announced the first six. What you’re going to see in the weeks and months to come is, we’re going to share a little bit more at each stage, and the roster’s going to grow, it’s going to get more robust, and I think it’s going to be a very satisfying mix of characters.
Was it always a no-brainer to start with the Avengers, since they are the stars of a $1.5 billion movie?
The Avengers is Marvel’s key franchise. What we wanted to do for “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” is lead with our strongest roster. That starts with the Avengers, but it doesn’t end with the Avengers. You’re going to see many more characters roll out, and they’re going to touch different parts of the Marvel Universe. There are going to be some characters where you’ll go, “OK, that’s obvious.” And some of the characters you’re going to go, “Hmm, that’s an interesting choice.” But we made those choices because the characters on the roster bring a certain gameplay mechanic — they bring fun to the table in a way that’s unique, that’s additive to the experience. Once you see the entire picture, you’re going to see a spectrum of Marvel characters from lots of different worlds, that add lots of different gameplay.
One of the key appeals of original “Disney Infinity” is seeing these different Disney characters interact — Rapunzel from “Tangled” right next to Jack Skellington — how much is that a part of this? Seeing Marvel characters interact with Disney characters in unexpected combination?
I can’t go too deep on that, but what I can say is that the Toy Box is the place where there’s limitless gameplay. Everything is going to interact with everything else, and we definitely will have more to show, and more to talk about later, but that’s the best answer I can give you right now.
You’re involved in everything Marvel video games — anything else people should know about with what’s in development?
We just launched “Amazing Spider-Man 2.” We have a few other titles that are imminent, and we’re going to have some announcements very, very soon. We have an incredibly robust slate of games for 2014, and going into 2015.
“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” is scheduled for release in fall 2014 on multiple platforms.