Since arriving at Marvel Comics nearly a decade ago, writer Fred Van Lente has written a number of stories for the publisher, from “Amazing Spider-Man” and “X-Men Noir” to nearly a half-dozen “Marvel Zombies” series and more.
Lately, he’s added Marvel’s video games to his busy schedule, the most recent of which is “Marvel Mighty Heroes,” a free, all-ages brawler for both iOS and Android devices. Made by developer DeNA, the game features cartoony versions of Iron Man, Captain America and other Marvel heroes trying to save the world — again.
All of which is, of course, being driven by Van Lente’s prose. And in talking him about his work on “Mighty Heroes,” it became clear that it wasn’t just his love of comics that led him to take on the job.
CBR News: How far along was DeNA in developing “Marvel Mighty Heroes” when you were brought in to script the game?
Fred Van Lente: Unlike, say, comics, where the writer is more of a driving force, if not the driving force, when you’re writing games, you’re much more the part of a team, taking direction from the developers. So the game was already considerably far along when I came on board, and they were able to share with me demos and interfaces that got me even more jazzed about the project. It’s only gotten better from there, as you can see from the trailers.
This is my third Marvel game. Well, the third one that’s been published, anyway. I also did “Avengers Initiative” for the iOS with Disney, and am currently having a blast on “Spider-Man Unlimited” with Gameloft. So when DeNA called me up and asked me to do a game that encompasses pretty much the rest of the Marvel Universe, I jumped at the opportunity.
Aside from the characters involved, what was it that captured your interest?
The really terrific idea of cooperative real-time fighting, and the fact we get to recreate some of the greatest Marvel storylines of the past in gamable form.
We’re starting with the big-mega-space epic from a few years back, “Infinity,” which is great because it allows to showcase all the heavy hitters of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and allows the reader to battle across galactic locations like Hala and the flagship of the Builders, and awesome Earthbound locations like the Gates of Wakanda.
Also, it’s got Thanos. Who doesn’t love Thanos? Other than the Marvel heroes, I mean.
Were you ever like, “Y’know, I wrote some pretty cool Marvel stories…”?
Ha! I know, right. Maybe I can convince DeNA to adapt something like “Spider-Man: The Gauntlet,” and have the player battle all of Spidey’s major baddies at once.
Did the fact that it’s an action game, a real-time brawler, have any impact on your decision?
Yeah. Action games are certainly my favorite, though my favorite may be old-school, first-person shooters with role-playing elements. If anyone out there wants to do a “Punisher in space” game or a shooter with Star-Lord, call me.
“Marvel Mighty Heroes” features a number of different Marvel characters, but there’s some conspicuous absences, including any X-Men or the Fantastic Four, and some curious inclusions, such as Black Bolt. How much input do you have in deciding who makes it in the game and who doesn’t?
Marvel lets a developer know which heroes are available for which storylines, and from that list DeNA selected the ones that seem best suited for the story we’re trying to tell, or which have the most awesome powers and abilities we want to get in a gamer’s hands as soon as possible.
That said, there will be new characters introduced in each storyline of “Marvel Mighty Heroes,” which is one of the best aspects of working on it — and, for that matter, playing it.
What character — good or bad — would you most like to see in “Marvel Mighty Heroes” and why?
I love the horror characters, like Morbius, Werewolf by Night, Damion Hellstrom, Living Mummy, Man-Thing and so on. It’d be great to send them on a monster-mash Halloween adventure, you know?
What about Jack Kirby?
That’d be awesome! Jack Kirby can create minions to attack with his Cosmic Pen, or perhaps blast them with his radioactive cigar!
“Marvel Mighty Heroes” is available now on iPhones, iPads, iPods, Android phones, and Android tablets.
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