Comic book superheroes have undergone something of a transformation in pop culture over the past decade. While the 1990s and early 2000s played host to a number of dismal adaptations of both Marvel and DC properties across film, TV and video games, each company has seen its fortunes take a monumental turn for the better in recent years.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began in 2008 and includes The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy amongst its series, has netted Marvel Studios in excess of $1 billion in North America alone, while DC and its distributor Warner Bros. have also seen success in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Batman reboot, with the upcoming Justice League set to attract moviegoers in their droves.
As a happy consequence of this resurgence, we’re also beginning to see big money invested in superhero video games – titles that are as impressive and multi-faceted as any other triple-A blockbuster. Cheap and sub-par cash-ins of yesteryear such as 1999’s Superman 64 are thankfully now a distant memory, with an expansive selection of high-quality titles for superhero fans to assume the role of their favorite larger-than-life personality. Today, we’ve narrowed down the many contenders into a list comprising just two of the greatest superhero games of all time.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013)
Developed by NetherRealms, the Warner Bros-owned studio responsible for the 2011 reboot of seminal fighting title Mortal Kombat on last-gen consoles, Injustice: Gods Among Us released in June 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Helmed by Ed Boon, the man who co-created Mortal Kombat at Midway back in 1992, Injustice brings together numerous characters from the DC Universe in an improved version of the NetherRealms’ stellar fighting engine.
Featuring a star-studded roster of superheroes including Batman, Superman, the Flash and Green Lantern, the game features not only an original, engaging storyline but also the same sort of refined, brutally satisfying combat players have come to expect from the studio.
Injustice: Gods Among Us also marks a rare video game appearance for Wonder Woman, who is set to star in her own feature film in 2017. The last time the Amazon princess had this level of prominence was arguably in 1995’s Justice League Task Force for the SNES, where she appeared alongside a corresponding stage, Themyscira. More recently, she’s also been featured in Sun Bingo’s online slots game Wonder Woman Gold, which features a 5×4, 40-line play area and scenes and music from the Lynda Carter TV series from the 1970s. Due to the success of the original game, Injustice is set to receive a sequel in May in the form of Injustice 2, and Wonder Woman will retain her place on the active roster ahead of her big-screen debut in June.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes (2013)
Following the cinematic success of 2012’s The Avengers, a LEGO-themed Marvel superheroes title may have initially seemed like a strange avenue for publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to pursue when commissioning a crossover title. That is, of course, until you consider that LEGO developer TT Games has created some of the best movie adaptations in recent memory: LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and LEGO Batman both achieved positive Metacritic ratings upon release.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes successfully built on the series’ themes of intuitive action-adventure and co-operative-driven gameplay, offering players of all ages and skills a rewarding experience in which they could seamlessly transition between their favorite characters.
Due to licensing contracts, it has not been possible for Marvel to introduce some of its most popular franchises, including the Fox-owned X-Men, into their cinematic universe; however, in video games, there are different contracts in play. In LEGO Marvel Superheroes, TT Games were afforded the opportunity to use the full range of Marvel Comics characters, including the aforementioned X-Men characters alongside Sony Pictures-owned Spiderman. Each superhero comes complete with their own unique abilities, with the title’s gripping storyline and innovative control scheme allowing players to live out both their comic-book and childhood LEGO fantasies.
With such an extensive array of contenders to select from, including the likes of the Batman: Arkham franchise and the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting series, picking the top two superhero games of all time was no easy task. Do you agree or disagree with our contenders – and which do you think can be rightly proclaimed as the best superhero game ever? Sound off in the comments below.