Square Enix unveiled the first look at its upcoming video game Marvel's Avengers at this year's E3. The game's trailer shows the Marvel super-team facing a catastrophic event while unveiling a new headquarters and helicarrier in San Francisco, while also dropping numerous hints that the game may take place in the same shared universe as a recent, popular video game adaptation of a fan-favorite Marvel Comics property: Spider-Man.
Marvel's flagship superhero starred in a video game adaptation released in September and developed by Insomniac Games. Marvel's Spider-Man followed the eponymous web-slinger as he fought new and old villains attempting to take advantage of a power vacuum left in New York City's criminal underworld after the incarceration of the Kingpin. Set several years into Spider-Man's career, the open-world adventure featured plenty of Easter eggs and nods to other Marvel properties, including Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Matt Murdock's law firm with Foggy Nelson, the Wakandan embassy and, most tellingly, Avengers Tower looming over the Manhattan skyline.
While promoting the game in April 2018, Marvel Games Executive Creative Director Bill Rosemann hinted that, while Marvel's Spider-Man would be centered on the wall-crawling superhero as a standalone title, it may be part of a new shared video game universe. This is not unlike how 2008's Iron Man featured a standalone film that quietly launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe with future films. While many of the references and allusions in Spider-Man were dismissed as little more than fun nods to the Marvel Universe's extensive history, the trailer for Marvel's Avengers suggests that the two games are more intertwined than they appear.
When first visiting Avengers Tower in Spider-Man, Peter notes that the team is currently busy with an unspecified event on the West Coast. While certainly accounting for their absence as Mister Negative and the Sinister Six rise to power, plunging Manhattan into a police state led by Mayor Norman Osborn and Silver Sable's mercenaries, the one-off line is potentially elaborated on in the Avengers trailer. The event keeping the premier super-team busy is the commemoration of their new West Coast headquarters in San Francisco, resulting in a tragic accident when a Terrigen reactor powering their new helicarrier apparently malfunctions, causing mass destruction in the city and leading to superheroes being outlawed, with the team blamed for the incident and disbanding under public pressure.
The villainous Taskmaster is also briefly glimpsed in the Avengers trailer, playing an unknown role in the game's story. The amoral mercenary had a recurring role in Spider-Man, observing the young hero after putting him through a series of increasingly difficult challenges around the city to test his abilities. After fighting Taskmaster in personal combat on two separate occasions, Spider-Man learns that the mercenary was hired by a mysterious organization to potentially recruit him for an unknown mission should he prove himself worthy of the assignment. After his offer is rejected, Taskmaster vanishes, leaving Peter to wonder who was behind the mercenary's activities and what exactly was the mission he was being offered.
With Taskmaster still at large, he may have been attempting to recruit Spider-Man in a mission to discredit the Avengers by framing them for the tragedy in San Francisco. The five-year time jump seen in the trailer, along with superheroes being outlawed throughout the United States, also suggests a new, dire status quo for Spider-Man in his own inevitable solo sequel. The final act of Spider-Man revealed the webslinger being hunted across Manhattan by criminals and Sable mercenaries alike. With the ban on superheroes likely extending to New York, Spider-Man may find himself targeted by the federal government, including S.H.I.E.L.D., for his continued crimefighting activities.
With even the first trailer for Marvel's Avengers including numerous hints that it may be connected to Marvel's Spider-Man, the two games may serve as the foundation for a shared video game universe. And with the trailer already showing grave tragedy and consequences for the eponymous team, the ramifications may spread to a Spider-Man sequel and any future games in the same continuity.
Featuring Nolan North as Iron Man, Troy Baker as Bruce Banner, Laura Bailey as Black Widow, Jeff Schine as Captain America and Travis Willingham as Thor, Marvel's Avengers, developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal and published by Square, will be released May 15, 2020, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia.