Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was the showcase reveal during Square Enix’s E3 2021 presentation, and why wouldn’t it be? Guardians is one of the most popular MCU franchises out there, especially in a post-Infinity Saga world. Chris Pratt is the definition of a Hollywood mega-star. Dave Bautista is quickly becoming one of the hottest commodities in the business. This is a hot franchise, featuring a popular cast, so it makes total sense for the video game adaptation to release with… an entirely different cast.

Look, I get it: The Avengers video game has a different cast, setting, and story because it’s more in line with the comics than the movie franchise. It’s totally understandable that the Guardians of the Galaxy game follows the same approach. I mean, there are costs associated with licensing rights for actor likenesses and such, so why pay out when you don’t need to?

The problem, however, is that neither of these games will ever be able to escape the shadow of the MCU. When you think of Iron Man, you think of Robert Downey Jr. Star-Lord? Chris Pratt. Groot? Vin– well, okay, you can have that one. But my point still stands. 

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

It seems like both of these games are trying to cash in on popular properties without utilizing what makes them popular — the movie versions. I get it: if Marvel, Square Enix, or Eidos-Montréal wants to make some superhero games, why not choose the two most popular franchises out there? Especially when they lend themselves perfectly to the third-person action game format?

That said, there are other franchises out there that would also translate perfectly: X-Men and Fantastic Four, for example. While Hugh Jackman is iconic in his role as Wolverine, we’ve already seen multiple actors play many of the other iconic roles (mostly because of the time-gap structure of the films, but still). We’ve seen both Sophie Turner and Famke Janssen as Jean Grey. Even though Patrick Stewart was perfectly cast as Charles Xavier, James McAvoy was able to portray a younger version of him. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that a lot of people in a certain age group remember the cartoon version of the X-Men fondly. So I don’t think it’s out of the question to accept a new cast of actors as these iconic characters.

And despite the long history of X-Men video games, there’s been a severe dry spell in recent years. Isn’t it time to give Marvel’s Mutants another chance?

Consider some other popular superhero franchises: Batman and Spider-Man in particular. There’s not one set actor associated with those roles; I can rattle off seven Batmen, for example! I’m not going to play a Batman game and wonder why a video-game version of Bruce Wayne looks nothing like Christian Bale. I’m not going to be slinging webs through virtual New York City and go, “How come Spider-Man looks nothing like Tobey Maguire?”

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy asks a lot from players. The movie version of the Guardians is way more recognizable than the comic-book version at this point, so fans have to disconnect from the movie franchise in order to enjoy the game. Sure, it’s easier for some people, especially if you’re really big on the comic storylines and characters, but not everyone is going to be.

It just seems to me like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is already in a losing position. And that’s saying nothing of how quickly mid-combat banter during the game will make me want to reach for the Mute button.

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