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The Truth About THQ's Canceled Avengers Game

In January 2017, Square Enix revealed a multi-game partnership with Marvel that would start with an Avengers title developed by Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics. Given the quality of the Tomb Raider reboot franchise — which was brought to life by those companies — and the hype surrounding the then yet to-be-released Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame movies, the internet reacted with thunderous applause.

Of course, many gamers also asked the obvious question of what took Marvel so long. The Avengers movies were more popular than sliced bread, so why didn't the company release tie-in video games earlier? Then, on June 3, 2020, word spread that THQ, prior to its closure, had worked on a long-cancelled Avengers game. Audiences even witnessed some early build footage to see what could have been.

Given this bombshell, one can't help but wonder what happened during that game's development. What would it have played like? Most importantly, why was the game cancelled and not picked up by another studio? Luckily, you don't need to make a deal with Mephisto to uncover the answers to these questions.

From third-person to first-person

THQ's Avengers game entered pre-production in 2010. Originally, it was supposed to be a third-person title, not unlike tie-in games for Marvel's previous movies. But, THQ wanted to stand out from the crowd, so it changed direction a few months later. Gone was the third-person perspective, replaced with a first-person camera that put players in the shoes of the Avengers themselves.

This change in perspective came with a paradigm shift. The game was redesigned with co-op in mind to echo the teamwork and cooperation at the heart of the Avengers squad (until the Hulk decides to go off on his own and pick a fight with a building). Players would have initially controlled the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America, and eventually unlocked Hawkeye, Black Widow, War Machine, and Ms. Marvel.

THQ's Avengers game progressed at a brisk pace until 2011, with plans to release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U, but then THQ suffered apocalyptic problems. Game release after game release bombed financially — the worst of which was the uDraw GameTablet — and THQ had to make some serious cuts. 

The first project to feel the bite of the cancellation axe was the Avengers game. Developers tried to save the title by pitching it to Marvel directly, but that plan fell through. And, THQ's Avengers game was lost in the limbo of cancelled video games.

THQ's Avengers game did not tie into the films

Even though the Avengers game was supposed to release alongside the Avengers movie, the two properties would have been different beasts.

Instead of revolving around Loki's invasion of New York City backed by an army of Chitauri, the game would have been a globe-spanning fight against the Skrulls. These were a far cry from the scared refugee Skrulls from the Captain Marvel movie and were more akin to the villainous conquering Skrulls comic fans know and love/hate. 

More importantly, the Skrulls would have been up to their old tricks of replacing people via shapeshifting. If you think that strategy is too similar to the storylines of Secret War and Secret Invasion, that's because Brian Michael Bendis, the writer of those comics, penned the game's narrative.

While the Avengers would have served as the main protagonists, the game would have featured a much larger roster of Marvel characters, either through direct cameos or via Skrull references. Players would have met characters like Spider-Woman, as well as powerful Super Skrulls who mimicked the powers of heroes like Wolverine. 

While much of the game's story remains a mystery, according artist Jeremy Love, the game and movies were always intended to be completely unrelated, as demonstrated by the characters and powers that have yet to appear in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.

Cross-promotional material hidden in plain sight

While much of the Avengers game has been lost to the digital void of the internet, one bit of game material escaped the fate of the video game and found unusual life as a movie tie-in toy.

If you bought the tie-in toys for the original Avengers movie, you might have found an odd addition in the form of a Skrull with a double-bladed energy axe. That action figure was based on art THQ's dev team made for the game. Apparently, Marvel handed the developers early movie concept art to help them solidify how Skrulls should look wearing Marvel Cinematic Universe-esque threads. Somehow, some of that art made its way to toy makers, who used it to produce the action figure.

If you were lucky enough to purchase the Skrull figure, you have a tangible example of what the Skrulls would have been like in the cancelled title.