Telltale Games' growing licensing empire continues to expand. The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, Tales From the Borderlands, and the upcoming Minecraft Story Mode all show a flexible company. Its engine and particular style of storytelling are rather malleable, lending themselves to a number of different properties. Telltale has doubled-down on this flexibility, reaching out and finding new licensing partners to expand its operations.
The company's latest partnership is with Marvel Entertainment. The announcement came last night in San Francisco, but was light on details. The project will premier in 2017 and will probably be episodic, like Telltale's other series. Telltale later confirmed the news with a post on its official blog.
While we don't have details, what we do have is endless speculation!
There's some caveats here. Telltale's titles tend to be based on a specific adaptation, with The Walking Dead being based on the comic property and Game of Thrones being based on the television version. So I'm assuming like Agents of SHIELD and the Netflix series, Telltale's game will link up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That means no Fantastic Four, X-Men, no Deadpool, or any other property not owned by Marvel Entertainment. Second, Telltale likes to have some freedom to tell its stories, meaning they'll stay away from main characters outside of cameos (The Wolf Among Us being an exception). So I'm not expecting any big-screen Avengers to show up in any meaningful way.
So here's a few heroes that Telltale Games could potentially use in its upcoming series, given those stipulations.
Marc Spector is a former mercenary who believes he's the chosen champion of Khonshu, an Egyptian god of vengeance. Early in his career, he operated under different identities for his crime-fighting operation: million entrepreneur Steven Grant and taxicab driver Jake Lockely. These eventually became more than just identities to hide under, Spector suffered full multiple personality disorder, meaning Spector, Moon Knight, Grant, and Lockely were all separate identities of the same person. Oh, and we're not quite sure if Khonshu actually talks to Spector or if that's just a fifth personality he's dealing with.
Moon Knight is essentially Marvel's violent, mentally-unstable Batman, heading out into night to beat up the criminal element. Why does he wear all white if he operates at night? From the Charlie Huston run on the comic:
"I don't wear white to hide myself, I wear it so they'll see me coming. So they know who it is, 'cause when they see white it doesn't matter how good a target I am. Their hands shake so bad, they couldn't hit the moon."
In his current status quo, Moon Knight has three personalities/identities: Spector, Moon Knight, and classy detective Mr. Knight. What you have is a trippy crime comic with the occasionally dip into the supernatural. Add in Khonshu's conversations with Spector and you have a character Telltale could really find some mileage in. And since he operates in New York, Telltale can have a few cameos from Marvel's cinematic finest if they want.
Elsa is a character who began as Marvel's version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and later became Marvel's monster-hunting Lara Croft. Her father is Ulysses Bloodstone, an older Marvel character who gained immortality, regenerative abilities, and enhanced speed and strength from the Bloodgem. Elsa wears a fragment of the original Bloodgem, imparting the same abilities to her and making her immune to vampires.
Her original incarnation was a blonde monster hunter with a penchant for wearing low-cut shirts like her father (the Bloodgem was attached to his sternum), but the current version is a very British, redhead murder machine. She is quite violent and quite fun.
This is one gateway into Marvel's supernatural side, something that will be fully introduced to the cinematic universe with Dr. Strange, which drops on November 2, 2016. Elsa hunts monsters and Marvel's version of the classic movie monsters tend to differ slightly from their literary counterparts. This also gives Telltale the freedom to define those characters for Marvel; I doubt we'll see Marvel's Dracula on the big screen, but why not show him off in a game?
Heroes for Hire
This is a concept that will theoretically be kicked off when Netflix' Luke Cage series starts, but the version I'm using here is headlined by three characters: Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, and Shang-Chi. These three are friends of Cage and Iron Fist in the comics and have carried on the idea of Heroes for Hire into the current Marvel Comics universe.
Misty Knight hails from the same blaxploitation era of Marvel Comics that Luke Cage does. She's a former cop who lost her right arm in an explosion and gained a replacement limb from Iron Man himself. She's a great detective, a crack shot with a pistol, and the mechanical arm has different abilities depending on which version we're talking about. She also happens to be in an on-again, off-again relationship with Iron Fist.
Colleen Wing is a half-American, half-Japanese martial artist and swordswoman who learned who fighting skills from her grandfather, a head of the Japanese secret service who trained with a monk from Iron Fist's mystical city of K'un Lun. (I didn't write it, I'm just relating this all to you folks.) Like Iron Fist, she can control her chi to enhance her strength and speed. Also at some point in her career, a white catsuit became her heroic attire. Colleen tends to be a matched set with Misty and together, they're known as the Daughters of the Dragon. (Marvel was all about that kung-fu craze in the 70s.)
Shang-Chi is the Master of Kung Fu. The character is the son of Dr. Fu Manchu, the pulp villain created by Sax Rohmer in 1912. Shang-Chi learns an extensive amount of martial arts from his father and other instructors, but he later turns against him and becomes a heroic figure. (Marvel eventually lost the rights to Fu Manchu, so Shang-Chi's current father is an immortal Chinese sorceror.) Shang-Chi is Marvel's premier martial artist, having taken down a number of superhuman foes. He's also proficient in almost any handheld weapon classically used in martial arts. Think of Shang-Chi as the dude who can do all the things Hollywood thinks real martial artists can do. He's currently an Avenger in the comics because he's better than Hawkeye.
Like Moon Knight above, together these three are like crime noir detectives, but with a martial arts bent instead of a supernatural one. Heroes for Hire is like the A-Team, helping out people who can't help themselves. The other benefit of these three is you gain a slightly more diverse cast and set of viewpoints; Misty and Colleen are similar in temperment, but Shang-Chi is a more reserved character. Having a rotating viewpoint with a focus on their different methods of dealing with obstacles is a decent angle for Telltale to take in dealing with the concept. And that's before you go into the larger rotating cast that's been featured in previous Heroes for Hire books.
Agents of SWORD
Did you know that there's an alternate counterpart to SHIELD? (There's also SPEAR, the Eastern version recently introduced in the comics.) While SHIELD is concerned with earthbound threats, S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) is all about keeping the Earth safe from extraterrestrial ones. It operates from an orbital space station known as The Peak.
The group was actually created in the pages of Astonishing X-Men by Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon. Its version of Nick Fury is Abigail Brand, a half-mutant, half-alien operative. She and her crew pretty much do the same thing SHIELD does, but with other planets instead of other countries.
Guardians of the Galaxy established cosmic Marvel, but Agents of SWORD is a way to expand that idea bit further. Working with Marvel Entertainment, Telltale has the chance to sketch out planets like Xandar (Home of the Nova Corps), Galador (Marvel's Space Knights), and Hala (The Kree). Who doesn't want to do some Mass Effect-style espionage in space?
Telltale would have to drop the half-mutant part of Brand, but if Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are any indication, they're willing to make changes.
We've brought up monsters, martial arts, and even the far reaches of outer space. What about other realities? Marvel's Captain Britain isn't just the UK version of Captain America - though he was intended as such in his original incarnation - he's the flippin' Guardian of the Multiverse. Captain Britain is Brian Braddock, an Englishman who gets his powers from Otherworld, the home base of the Captain Britain Corps, and Roma, the Omniversial Guardian. Each Captain is expected to protect his or her own reality. Ever wonder where the "616" name for the Marvel Universe came from? Captain Britain! It's his number designation in the Corps and doubles as the designation of his reality.
Captain Britain is a crossroads of science and magic in the Marvel Universe and his Cinematic Universe counterpart could be the same. The best part is you can use this all-new Captain to connect to the actual Marvel Universe, perhaps meeting his 616 counterpart. And if Telltale wants to kill off some supporting cast characters, offing people from other realities is a safe bet. Doing Captain Britain would truly expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe and tie everything together.
Of course, with my luck, they're just going to do Howard the Duck.