With the exception of January, every month of the last year was celebrated by “Marvel Heroes 2015,” the the free-to-play, action-packed, role-playing PC game, with the release of a new, playable character. There was Winter Soldier in February, She-Hulk in April, and Ant-Man in July. Now, Gazillion Entertainment is set to close out the year by bringing Iron Fist to the game later this week.
But before he arrives in-game, CBR has the exclusive first look at how the martial arts master will look in the game. We also have a look inside the character’s design and development courtesy of Gazillion’s Art Director Chris Frenton, Content Designer Ryan Collins and System Designer Anthony Gallegos.
CBR News: First, why are you guys adding Iron Fist now? He doesn’t have a movie coming out, the Netflix show won’t be out for a while —
Anthony Gallegos: A lot of the staff has been trying to get Iron Fist into “Marvel Heroes” for a long, long time. While we don’t know Marvel’s exact plans for the future of Iron Fist, we do know this: We want him in our game!
To that end, it really just came down to a matter of fan/developer wants, scheduling, and a desire to get ahead of that content schedule. Besides, there’s nothing stopping us from updating the character with new skins or a powers rework based on Marvel taking him to new places. We’ve done the same for other characters, such as Daredevil.
What does Iron Fist bring to “Marvel Heroes 2015” that existing characters don’t?
Gallegos: We have a number of melee fighters in our game, but Iron Fist is easily the flashiest. We took a lot of inspiration from the comics, and we believe his ability to switch into various stances such as “Tiger” or “Crane” will help him stand out. Not only does switching stances grant him his powerful Chi resource, it also changes the visuals of many of his powers, including some of his animations.
How did you pick which of his moves he would have and which he wouldn’t?
Gallegos: Picking which powers we include is always a difficult process. A lot of it comes down to figuring out the core of what makes the character special. In Iron Fist’s case, we felt was his use of various forms during fights. Once we have that, we figure out how those powers fit into mechanics that we already have or can implement without having to totally teach players new systems.
I’d be lying, though, if I said it also wasn’t based around the desire to capture or present our takes on some of the coolest Iron Fist moments from comics and other media.
Is one of his moves the Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart move Uma Thurman did in “Kill Bill”?
Gallegos: Ha! No, sorry, we don’t have the Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart — but we do have Fury of Five Hundred Fists. It doesn’t make the character’s heart explode, but there’s a good chance it’ll send them flying if it defeats them.
In designing how Iron Fist would look in the game, did you reference any specific comics or eras?
Ryan Collins: As with any character, we looked to everything, from his early appearances to his most recent, as inspiration. This is probably most immediately evident with his two costumes available — one fairly modern, one very classic — but we’ve definitely looked to the pages of over forty years’ worth of comics. With a job like this, “research” is just plain fun.
When it came to designing him, what was the hardest thing to get right?
Chris Frenton: There was nothing really “hard” about Iron Fist. We have done this type of character enough that there were really no surprises. I wish we had more time to learn Kung Fu, though, since we are basing his animations on actual Shaolin stances. Unfortunately, we don’t have any Martial Arts masters in our employ, so there may be a few things we did not get quite right in regards to actual martial art moves. I even tried to get Gazillion to send me to a Shaolin monastery to train, but they didn’t go for it.
Did Marvel give you any notes about the character’s design?
Collins: Marvel’s feedback is always very helpful and welcome, and it’s always great to hear from them that we’re in a good place after we’ve submitted something. For the most part, they trust us to follow our own vision. We’ve worked with Marvel a long time, and they know that we know our stuff.
With Iron Fist, other than a minor costume tweak and some changes to coloring in particle effects, they seemed pretty happy.
In the game, Iron Fist is voiced by actor Johnny Yong Bosch, who was one of the Power Rangers. What was it about his voice that made you think he’d be perfect for this role?
Collins: A good voice is more than just the voice itself. While it’s true enough that Johnny’s voice stands out on its own as a great performance, and that his voice fits the character of Danny Rand at a surface level, what really sells it is the fact that his voice is so quickly associated with an iconic martial artist of pop culture. He’s perfect for the role.
As fans know, Iron Fist’s best friend is Power Man, aka Luke Cage. If you play with both characters in the game, do they do anything cool, like a special dual attack, or maybe go out for lunch and reminisce about the good old days?
Gallegos: Ha! Well, we don’t currently support synergy attacks between characters, but they will have unique dialogue that will trigger around one another, where Iron Fist might acknowledge Luke and his relationship.
Iron Fist is just the latest character to join “Marvel Heroes,” which has a ton of characters already. Are there any that you’d really like to see added to the game?
Gallegos: The list never ends. Just about every Marvel character has a champion inside the studio.
Personally speaking, I’d really like to some of the Inhumans to the game, especially Black Bolt. Though I admit it’ll be hard to figure out how to make his powers awesome without him shattering the whole game just by speaking a word.
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