Although initial reactions to Marvel's Avengers have been relatively rough, eagle-eyed comic fans may have noticed a few familiar plot points in the E3 trailer for the game reminiscent of certain less-than-beloved comic stories.
While the Avengers appears to be an original story, Square-Enix might have drawn from these fairly infamous comic stories when crafting the game. But the question is what parts did they extract and what does this indicate about the upcoming game?
Avengers: Disassembled was one of the first stories Brian Michael Bendis did for the Avengers, and it pissed a lot of people off. The storyline is a destructive nightmare scenario for the Avengers. Vision crashes into the Avengers Mansion, and he's later ripped in half by a possessed She-Hulk. Ant-Man is presumed dead after being sent through time, while Hawkeye is killed with his own arrows. Asgard and Thor are destroyed. It's not a pretty picture. Ultimately, this results in the decimation of the Avengers. The culprit behind it all is Scarlet Witch, who had been driven mad after learning the children she thought she had produced with Vision were in actuality just an illusion.
The series is often criticized for wildly out-of-character behavior and several deaths that existed mostly to shock readers.
Avengers appears to follow a similar story -- at least early on. The game trailer features Earth's Mightiest Heroes failing to stop a great disaster, which results in the team being broken apart. Hawkeye's absence from the trailer might also have some relation to the events of Disassembled. Although Avengers will probably be far more straightforward than the sprawling story of Disassembled, the end result is this: Earth's Mightiest Heroes are broken apart.
Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Civil War sees a great disaster takes place, which fractures the Avengers into two teams and pits them against one another.
While the trailer for Avengers focuses on the team working together, there are hints that, after the disaster, the team is fractured. We see Tony getting angry and the public calling superheroes "murderers." This is definitely reminiscent of Civil War. There's also the matter of Captain America's epitaph, which is taken straight from the event.
Again, the comic is very controversial. Iron Man and Reed Richards are portrayed as borderline sociopaths. Steve Rogers doesn't really fare better. While people generally agree the Marvel Cinematic Universe's adaptation of the storyline solves many of the comic's problems, there are reasons enough to be concerned how this game hopes to address a team turning on itself.
The prior two stories are in some way obvious. However, what about a post-apocalyptic adventure for the Avengers? The E3 presentation mentioned a Terrigen reactor, which seems to indicate the Inhumans will play a role in the game, and there's one incredibly infamous story Square-Enix might have drawn from: Earth X.
Earth X is an alt-world mini-series Marvel put out in 1999. Based on notes by legendary artist Alex Ross, written by Jim Krueger and drawn by John Paul Leon, Earth X explores an alternate version of Earth after Black Bolt floods the planet with Terrigen Mist. However, despite becoming mutated, most of humanity doesn't realize they've breathed in any Terrigen Mist, because Reed Richards, in an attempt to create a network of vibranium-based renewable energy, blows up half the planet. The resulting story is a dystopian story that features just about every noteworthy character in Marvel playing a role in the world's end.
This bleak future appears to be a major source of inspiration for Avengers. Something goes wrong. Even though it isn't the Avengers' fault, the team is blamed. So why is Earth X controversial?
It's really weird. Thor is turned into a woman, Loki leads an army of undead Asgardians against the Celestials, Norman Osborn becomes President, Black Bolt blinds Uatu the Watcher, Captain America kills Red Skull only for a new Skull to emerge, the Celestials come to harvest embryos inside planets, Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers end the concept of Death and Galactus turns out have been Franklin Richards the whole time.
Earth X is a trip, so it might be the best if Avengers only tries to be half as bizarre.