While the first two playsets for “Disney Infinity 3.0” will feature characters from “Star Wars,” the toy-based video game (in stores August 30) will be heading back to the Marvel Universe with its as-yet-unscheduled fourth add-on, based on the recent movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
At the moment, not much has been said about this collection, other than it will feature Hulkbuster and Ultron, who may or may not be the toys included in this still untitled playset. But in an exclusive interview with VP of Art Development Jeff Bunker, he not only talked about how his team designed the characters — and how they got ahead of the movie crew — he also shared an exclusive first look at an early (and very different looking) version of the Hulkbuster figure, as well as a shot from the game with the Hulkbuster arm wrestling Loki and Yondu at the same time, with Rocket Raccoon cheering him on.
CBR News: Looking at the concept art, it appears your original idea for Hulkbuster was not based on how he looks in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” When you started designing the character, did you look at other versions and then have to change it when you saw the movie?
Jeff Bunker: Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. Because we started working on the character before they’d finalized how he’d look in the film, we instead looked at early concept drawings of the character, as well as some comic books. But then, when we saw the film footage, we realized we had some adjustments to make. What’s nice is that our original version was clean and simple, and we just had to add some elements based on how he looks in the film.
It’s interesting that the coloring of the original drawing is kind of reddish brown, not the typical Iron Man red.
Right. But we typically go a little muted on the colors, especially on metal characters, because if we make them more metallic they look cheap.
Ah, How about Hulkbuster’s combat moves, did you again come up with a bunch and then have to change them all when you saw the movie?
Yeah. Once again, we got ahead of them. We had some basic moves for him, but it wasn’t until we got the footage from the film that we were able to finalize things, though most of what we had in the game before we saw the movie footage was basic stuff, such as how he’d move. The things that got added after we saw the film were his special moves, such as his missile salvo.
Hulkbuster is the biggest character in the game, and thus the biggest toy. How does that impact gameplay? Like, can he not use the ride the motorcycle because it’ll just collapse underneath him?
[Laughs] We should’ve done that, but no, he functions like a regular character.
It’s funny — we’ve gone through this a couple times where we thought we had made the biggest character. First it was Mr. Incredible, then Ralph from “Wreck-It Ralph,” and then Baymax [from “Big Hero 6”], and then again with Hulk, and finally Hulkbuster had to be bigger than The Hulk. You’ll be impressed with how the toy came out. It’s really sharp.
In “Disney Infinity 2.0,” Iron Man was voiced by Adrian Pasdar, who also does Iron Man’s voice on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” and “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” Will he be doing the voice of Hulkbuster as well?
He did do the voice; we just used a modulation to make it sound different.
Moving on to Ultron, did you have the same issues designing him as you did the Hulkbuster?
Yeah, it pretty much went down the same way, with us getting ahead of the movie. We started out by looking at the comic books, then got some early concept drawings from the filmmakers, though they turned out to be very different from the final version. But again, this was a positive, because both characters are way more complicated than the art style of “Infinity,” so we’d have to do some abstraction and some simplification anyway.
What was interesting about Ultron is that our characters are typically made of solid shapes, but that doesn’t work for Ultron. He’s made of a bunch of pieces, and thus didn’t look good as a solid piece, so we decided to experiment with him, and made him out of three different pieces, which gave him a depth. Having that extra time to explore really helped.
I assume you also had the same “getting ahead of yourself” issue when it came to Ultron’s combat moves.
Yes. We had some ideas, but when we saw the movie, it really changed quite a bit. That’s when we added his ability to summon his drones, and a cool electrical pulse that draws enemies towards him.
In the movie, when Ultron does that drone move, there’s hundreds of them. How does it work in the game?
I think five or six come out, and they run at their closest opponent. But I can’t remember if they attack or if they blow up.
Ultron’s voice is done by Jim Meskimen, who also voiced the character in “Avengers Assemble.” When he did the recording sessions for “Disney Infinity 3.0,” did you ask him to sound like James Spader, who voiced Ultron in the movie, or like he did in the cartoon?
Well, we didn’t want him to do an imitation of James Spader — that would’ve been weird. But we did want him to bring some of the eeriness that Spader brought to the role. It’s more like he tried to capture the same tone as Spader.
When doing a character from a movie, do you always ask the actor who played the character in the film first?
We do. In fact, it’s often in the actor’s contracts that you have to give them the first right of refusal. Though I don’t know if that was the case with James Spader.
Finally, fans are going to look at the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” playset and assume there will be an “Ant-Man” one as well. Is that a fair guess?
What I will say is that because of the way Marvel have been rolling out their movies, there are a lot of opportunities, and not just for new playsets. So I can safely confirm that we will be doing more Marvel playsets.
Disney Infinity 3.0 will be available on consoles August 30.
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