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Small Details Only Hardcore Fans Noticed In Marvel's Midnight Suns

The latest and greatest Marvel video game has finally arrived, and fans owe it all to "XCOM 2." Firaxis Games, the developer behind the "XCOM" series, has delivered a wonderful mix of role-playing and tactical combat with a deck-building system that allows for endless customization and battles that feel truly epic.

"Marvel Midnight Suns," with its addictive, easy-to-learn (yet difficult-to-master) combat system, will have fans of tactics-based games like "XCOM" or even "Tactics Ogre" feeling right at home — but at its heart, this is a game for Marvel fans. Comic fans are sure to fall in love with over-the-top plot and the wealth of opportunities to feel like a real member of a superhero team.

Anyone who plays "Marvel's Midnight Suns" will instantly be able to recognize that the crew working at Firaxis are Marvel True Believers. The game hides Easter eggs and clever references to characters and comic stories around every corner. That's not all, though. There's an overwhelming amount of small details layered in from the beginning of the game to its shocking ending. Only the most observant gamers are going to catch them all, but here are some references that only hardcore fans might notice in their first time through the story. Happy hunting, heroes!

Ghostbusters reference

At this point, making an excessive amount of pop culture references is part of Marvel's brand. Just about every Earth-bound character makes at least one callback in the course of their journey, but no one is as prolific with their references as Tony Stark. Whether it's tying Thor to the "Big Lebowski" or calling Ebony Maw "Squidward," there never seems to be a situation where Tony can't come up with some kind of pop culture zinger.

Unsurprisingly, that particular comedic strategy has carried over into "Marvel Midnight Suns," and it's equally unsurprising that Tony gets the first crack at it in the game. When Lilith makes her dramatic and terrifying entrance into Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Tony is quick to cut through the tension by calling her "Gozer," noting her visual similarities to the Ghostbusters' nemesis.

The joke is a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, but a "Ghostbusters" fan page on Instagram captured it for all the world to see. This joke from Tony perfectly captures his character and helps set the tone for the game that follows. Some might argue that Marvel has been overplaying the pop culture humor in recent years, but for those detractors, Doctor Strange is quick to correct Tony, and he seems as exasperated by the constant jokes as any MCU fan. 

Tony Stark used to be Spider-Man

Lyrica Okano isn't the only Marvel actor who came back to be a part of "Marvel Midnight Suns." Tony Stark is voiced by Josh Keaton, an actor with an extensive history with the Marvel Universe. Just a year before the game's release, Keaton voiced Steve Rogers in the Disney Plus series "What If...?" Back in 2020, Keaton got to take his first crack at Tony when he voiced the character for "Marvel's Iron Man VR," and the year before that, he was voicing Ant-Man in "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order."

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Keaton's relationship with Marvel, though. He got the opportunity to voice Electro in the PS4 "Spider-Man" game, and he's been a part of more than a handful of animated Marvel shows like "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Avengers Assemble," and 2017's "Ant-Man" miniseries. Of course, True Believers probably recognized his voice as soon as "Marvel Midnight Suns" began, but they might have been surprised to see him reprising his one-off role as Iron Man. Keaton's most long-lived Marvel role up to this point was as the everyone's favorite wallcrawler in "The Spectacular Spider-Man."

Nico returns!

Nico Minoru might not be the most well-known character in the Marvel Universe, but she has had her chance to shine on-screen in the past. Lyrica Okano played Nico in Marvel's "Runaways." Based on the comic books series of the same name, the TV series was a Hulu original that ran for 33 episodes from 2017 to 2019. It followed the titular teenage superhero team as they fought against their parents' supervillain group, the Pride.

The show offered a fun look at one of Marvel's more obscure super teams, and Okano's performance as Nico was beloved by fans. She did so well, in fact, that Firaxis had her come back to voice the character in "Marvel Midnight Suns," which is a real treat for fans of the TV series. 

The game's continuity is entirely a world of its own, but it might not be all that different from the timeline explored in the Hulu series. During conversations with Nico, she'll occasionally bring up the time that she spent as a member of the Runaways before becoming one of the core members of the new Midnight Suns. To a certain extent, the show might be canon in the world of the game, and villains from it, like the Pride or Morgan le Fay, would fit right in for a "Midnight Suns" DLC or sequel.

Nico is a comic book fan

The Abbey starts out as the base of operations for the Midnight Sons, but it also becomes a home away from home for the Avengers and other heroes like Spider-Man. Everyone who stays at the Abbey has their own dorm-style bedroom, and depending on the day, different rooms are open for the Hunter to explore. These bedrooms offer a chance to get a deeper look at a particular character's personality, and they're also a chance for Firaxis to throw in even more references to Marvel history. If players swing by Nico Minoru's room on a day when it's open, they'll find out that she's not only a comic book fan, but also an aficionado when it comes to the classic Midnight Sons team.

Nico has three different comic book covers hung up on the wall beside her bed. There's a copy of "Fantastic Four" #72, in which Silver Surfer begins terrorizing the world in an effort to unite humanity, and there's also "Marvel Presents" #3, which prominently features the Guardians of the Galaxy. The real gem of Nico's collection, though, is the first issue of the 90s run of "Morbius," which was part of Marvel's "Rise of the Midnight Sons" crossover event. Maybe Nico is taking inspiration from the comics for how to best contribute to the newest iteration of the team.

Tony Stark built it with scraps

Jeff Bridges is a phenomenal actor, and though his time in the MCU was short-lived, his character Obadiah Stane remains one of the most memorable villains in Marvel history. In Obadiah's efforts to best Tony Stark, he built his very own suit of armor, but it wasn't easy. When Obadiah's team tells him they can't recreate Tony's first prototype, he screams, "Tony Stark built this in a cave! With a box of scraps!" The MCU is full of great lines, but Bridges' exasperated delivery takes that one to another level.

In the years since "Iron Man" debuted, Obadiah's iconic line has been used to meme everything from "Rocket League" to the DCEU. "Marvel Midnight Suns" includes a cheeky reference to the line in the character customization options for Iron Man. Every hero has multiple costumes for players to choose from, but they also have several different outfits they can wear during their downtime at the Abbey. Tony can be equipped with a green tank top that is quite reminiscent of the shirt he wore while building his first suit in 2008's "Iron Man." 

Fittingly, the outfit is called "Scraps," but assuming that Iron Man's in-game origin matches that of his traumatized MCU counterpart, Tony might not actually want to wear it. 

Khonshu exhibit in Manhattan

One of the best parts about "Marvel Midnight Suns" is that there are so many different characters for players to interact with and use in battle. The game even shines a light on relatively obscure characters in the Marvel universe, like Nico Minoru and Magik, and makes them a major part of the story. From beginning to end, the game is a jam-packed joy ride, but even in 60+ hours of gameplay, there isn't time for everyone to make an appearance.

If you were hoping to use Moon Knight's signature fighting abilities to take down hordes of Hydra goons, you might be disappointed, but his presence is still felt in the game. To help make up for any absentee heroes in the story, Firaxis made sure to sneak in all sorts of references to other Marvel characters, and Moon Knight gets a sly callout during a Manhattan-based fight against Venom. In the background of the fight, there's an ad for a museum exhibit all about Khonshu, the Egyptian deity responsible for giving Moon Knight his powers. Clearly Firaxis hasn't forgotten about one of Marvel's darkest heroes, so there's still hope that he'll show up in-game in a future DLC.

Daredevil's donating equipment?

Much like Moon Knight, Daredevil is another beloved Marvel character with his own TV show that Firaxis hasn't managed to squeeze into the deep bench of playable characters in "Marvel Midnight Suns" (yet). Luckily for Daredevil fans, there's at least some one small glimmer of hope that the hero could eventually make his way to the game. 

He's not included among the season pass heroes that Firaxis has already announced for the game, but the developer did include a sneaky reference to Daredevil and his long history inside the Abbey. Between enemy encounters, heroes can train for battle in the Yard, which is appropriately outfitted with dummies and workout equipment. A close look at the weights and dumbbells that the Yard has on offer reveals that someone brought them to the Abbey from Fogwell's Gym. 

Fans of the comics and Netflix series may recall that this is where Daredevil's father once trained as a boxer, and it remains an important institution in Hell's Kitchen under Daredevil's watch. Considering none of the game's other heroes are from Hell's Kitchen, it's possible that Daredevil himself helped to supply the weights. If so, his in-game appearance could be just around the corner.

The Abbey's paintings are all real

Combat is the main focus of "Midnight Suns," but customization is an equally important part of the game. When it comes to the characters, everything from outfits to headgear to movesets can be altered by players, but the opportunities for adding a unique sense of style to the game don't end there. The players' homebase can also be spruced up! Back in the Abbey, players can make changes to the Hunter's bedroom furniture, and throughout the area they can replace framed paintings with their own in-game screenshots showing off the most memorable parts of their journey.

Understandably, most players will be quick to dump the Abbey's paintings out of their frames,so they can hang up their favorite pics. Because of that, very few people are going to notice that all of the Abbey's paintings are actually famous works of art from the real world. Someone working for Firaxis obviously has a passion for art history and took the time to carefully select works that many gamers might just gloss over. 

Of course, that begs the question of how those paintings got to the Abbey in the first place. In one of their hangouts, Doctor Strange tells the Hunter that departed souls pass through the mystical space of the Abbey on the way to their next life. Maybe the ideas and passions of humanity leak into the Abbey's world in a similar way.

Peter's identity struggles are straight from the comics

MCU fans know Spider-Man as a pseudo-Avenger. In the movies, Spidey starts his career on his own,Tony Stark steps into the picture during his early days as a hero and offers him guidance, a new suit, and — at the end of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" — a spot on the team. Peter turns the offer down at that point, but up until the events of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," he stays closely tied to the Avengers.

Hardcore Marvelites know that Peter's story in the MCU is drastically different than it was in the comics. It took decades in the real world before Peter Parker was recognized as an official Avenger. It wasn't an easy process, and for a long time, Spider-Man was conflicted not only about being on a team, but also about sharing his identity with other heroes.

"Marvel Midnight Suns" takes a cue from the comics and puts Peter through an accelerated version of that internal struggle. After he meets the other heroes while fighting Venom in Manhattan, he comes back to the Abbey, reasoning that the scale of the current fight demands a more unified response from Earth's heroes. However, upon his arrival, Peter is very conflicted about sharing his true identity with everyone else. After some gentle prodding from the Hunter, he comes around, but his overt reluctance to become a true team player is pulled straight from his comic book history.

Robbie is a fan of Quentin Carnival

Robbie Reyes is a core member of the Midnight Sons in the game. He's able to use his knowledge as a gearhead to help Peter Parker build new equipment for the team, and in battle he's able to employ his powers as Ghost Rider to help crush Lilith's forces. Whether he's using "Lash" to chain fiery attacks together or "Hellmouth" to create instant-KO zones for his teammates to use against their enemies, Robbie's ability are a major asset to the team.

Yes, Robbie is an incredibly skilled Ghost Rider, but Marvel fans know that he's not the first to channel the powers of Hell for the forces of good. Before Robbie there was Johnny Blaze, a stunt driver turned superhero who helped create the original Midnight Sons team in the Marvel Comics universe. And as fate would have it, there's a small Easter egg in Robbie's Shop Class that reveals he's a big fan of Johnny's stunt driving days.

Hanging in the back of Robbie's cave is a poster advertising the Quentin Carnival, where Johnny Blaze worked before he became a superhero. Robbie clearly admires his predecessor, and he'd probably be thrilled to visit the carnival later in the game – if it weren't infested with demons at the time.

The Hunter gets to cosplay

Who doesn't love a good cosplay? The Hunter has no shortage of unique cosmetic options, from massive demonic horns to multiple sacred hoods, but some of the character's best costume pieces also serve another purpose. Possibly to help make up for any omissions in"Midnight Suns," Firaxis gave the Hunter access to some iconic pieces of gear that channel the spirit of some heroes missing from the game.

Want to mimic the look of one of Marvel's coolest female Spider-heroes? The Hunter's "Silk" headgear gives the player access to Silk's iconic face mask. Feel like you aren't getting enough Norse energy in your playthrough? Unlock the "Valkyr" helmet to dress up like everyone's favorite ruler of New Asgard, Valkyrie. Some headgear, like the Hunter's aviator glasses, seem to lean more toward mimicking characters that already exist in-game — but honestly, who doesn't want their character to look as fashionable as Tony Stark?

The Hunter is a strong original character, but the fact that the Hunter's customization options let players fill the gaps in "Midnight Suns" hero roster (at least in spirit) is a definite plus for the game.