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The new Square Enix Marvel's Avengers trailer explained

The day has come, True Believers. Since its initial announcement in early 2017 as "The Avengers Project," anticipation for more details of Square Enix and Marvel's joint venture into the world of comic book video games has reached a fever pitch. Who would the heroes be? What is the story? Will it be based on the popular film series or will it mine the decades of rich storytelling and bonkers world-building provided to us by Marvel Comics? Will Hulk smash?

Well, that last one might be a given, but many of those answers finally came at E3 2019, when Square Enix and developers Crystal Dynamics finally unveiled the first trailer for Marvel's Avengers. The trailer featured plenty of familiar faces, both friendly and not-so-nice, as well as a few surprises and teases for fans of the comic books. Let's dig into our first taste of the upcoming superhero spectacular and see what we can glean from this first marvelous trailer!

The team is assembled

Though Marvel's Avengers sets out to tell an all-new story with its characters, the roster of the Avengers in this new game should be very familiar to fans of the film series. In fact, the lineup here (Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Thor) is nearly identical to the one seen in the 2012 film, minus Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. 

While there are likely some fans that are a little disappointed to see Hawkeye being left out of the action, this game's embrace of the larger mythology of the comics likely means that an appearance from everyone's favorite archer isn't out of the question. It's a smart move on Crystal Dynamics' part to build the core team out of instantly-recognizable heroes. Even if the game isn't based in the film universe, it's a great way to appeal to the wider audience of folks who came to these characters from their blockbuster counterparts.

Hail the avenging heroes

When the trailer begins, we see that the Avengers in this universe have essentially become beloved celebrities. In fact, the people of San Francisco are celebrating "Avengers Day," with the Avengers touching down in one of their Quinjets and being greeted by thunderous applause. The landing and the celebration appears to be taking place on a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, similar to the ones from the comics and films. 

The public reaction to our heroes here is extra notable when compared to the way they are received by the general public in the Marvel Studios film series. In the movies, the Avengers are generally seen as misfits. Following multiple destructive high-profile battles, like the Battle of New York and the destruction of Sokovia, there's a kind of distrust aimed at the Avengers. Seeing them being greeted as genuine heroes to be looked up to is not only a refreshing take on the material, but it also sets the Avengers up for an even greater fall from grace, as we'll soon see.

Taskmaster stalks again

Seemingly interrupting the celebration, a squad of villains attack San Francisco, setting off explosive charges across the Golden Gate Bridge. When we see the foot soldiers, they are all wearing helmets with skull designs, giving them a uniform look that kind of resembles Crossbones' design from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

However, of particular note is their leader, who is seen sporting a skull mask of his own and a prominent white hood and cape. This is Tony Masters, aka the Taskmaster, a supervillain with the ability to memorize and utilize the fighting skills and techniques of his opponents (basically a deadly photographic memory). Not only that, but his strength has been augmented by the same serum that gave Captain America his abilities, making Taskmaster even more of a formidable opponent for Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

This is Taskmaster's second recent appearance in video games, as he was last seen in Marvel's Spider-ManIn that game, Taskmaster puts Spidey through a series of challenges before taking him on in physical combat. It's certainly interesting to see two high-profile Marvel video games utilizing the same relatively obscure villain.

The Avengers have failed

Unfortunately, the battle against Taskmaster and his goons is apparently little more than a distraction for our heroes. Back on the Helicarrier, we see the vehicle's new experimental energy source being overloaded and crackling with energy. How the bad guys managed to overload this system is unclear, but judging from Captain America's panicked sprint toward the engine room, it apparently all happens way too fast for the heroes to do anything about it. That's likely why Cap was kept busy by a swarm of mercenaries on the Helicarrier, sadly separating him from the rest of his teammates.

Whatever the case, Black Widow realizes that the team has been purposefully held up a moment too late. Though Iron Man attempts to fly to Cap's aid, the team watches in horror as the Helicarrier explodes with Captain America on board, sending out a shockwave of purple energy that levels at least a sizable chunk of San Francisco. 

A Mist opportunity

In an argument with Tony Stark over whether or not the Avengers are culpable in the destruction of San Francisco, Dr. Banner refers to the crystallized engine overloaded by Taskmaster's men as "the Terrigen Reactor." While that sounds like some throwaway technobabble, Terrigen Crystals actually have a lengthy history in Marvel Comics' lore.

In the Marvel Universe, Terrigen Crystals are used to produce the Terrigen Mist, which has the ability to awaken a person's latent metahuman abilities. The Terrigen Crystals are most commonly associated with the genetically-altered Inhumans, which suggests that they may have a part to play in the story of Marvel's Avengers. The Mists were also notably used by several X-Men characters who found themselves depowered — and what's a Marvel game without an appearance from everyone's favorite mutants?

More pressing, however, is the added fear of what the villains wanted to accomplish by overloading the Terrigen Reactor. Was the explosion yet another decoy, enabling them to steal the Crystal for their own research? Are the bad guys trying to make their own metahumans? And what of the civilians caught in the Terrigen-enfused blast? What kind of changes could they be seeing?

A-Day and the fallen hero

The Terrigen disaster is known as "A-Day," with the narration explaining to us that many blame the Avengers themselves for the destruction of San Francisco, even though they do still have some supporters who believe the team was set up by their enemies. While a similar loss of civilian life spurred on the registration of metahumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it appears the Avengers of this world weren't even given the opportunity to continue, even under supervision.

In the wake of their failure, it appears that the team has disbanded. Even worse, Captain America is counted among the fallen. In a curious moment, we see that a statue has been erected in his memory. This would suggest that the public still loves and misses Captain America, so perhaps the people who blame the Avengers for the tragedy in San Francisco believe Cap to have been uninvolved in the destruction.

These moments paint a dark picture for the future of our heroes, but they also raise some interesting questions as to just how far-reaching this conspiracy against the surviving Avengers really goes. Also, Cap can't really be gone, can he?

The real Pulsar

During the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge, Iron Man gets smacked down by a laser cannon of some kind. Once he gets back up, he informs Captain America that the villains are using "Pulsar tech." This is notable for a few reasons, the first of which is how similar that sounds to the technology that Iron Man uses; Tony Stark's suit utilizes repulsor beams for both offense and flight. The similarity in names makes one wonder if this "Pulsar tech" is somehow derived from Iron Man's own weaponry.

However, there is another character from the comics that this technology name-drop brings to mind: Monica Rambeau, who has taken on many superhero aliases over the years, including the name Pulsar. Her powers are based around energy manipulation, similar to the abilities of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. In fact, Rambeau briefly went by the name Captain Marvel in the comics — when she served as a member of the Avengers. While this technology may just be named as a tip of the hat to Monica Rambeau, it's not out of the realm of possibility that this one-time Avenger may somehow be involved in this new story.

Villains, villains, villains

Aside from Taskmaster and his cronies, there are a few other villains that pop up in the trailer. Black Widow is seen fighting some kind of giant robot or android. While the design is very different, this may be the game's version of the Super-Adaptoid, a classic Avengers enemy which was an android created by the evil organization known as Advanced Idea Mechanics for the express purpose of annihilating the Avengers. The Super-Adaptoid could mimic the abilities of the heroes it fought, which is interesting for a few reasons. We know Taskmaster can mimic fighting styles and the Terrigen Mists can give people super powers. Perhaps both of these factors had a hand in creating a new version of the classic android supervillain?

Another, more familiar enemy is seen going toe-to-toe with Hulk. This giant monstrosity can be none other than Emil Blonsky, also known as the Abomination. An evil counterpart to the (usually) more benevolent Hulk, the Abomination has been a thorn in the Hulk's side for years, even making the leap to the big screen with a character design similar to this game's in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.

Iron Man dresses for the occasion

It appears as though players will have the opportunity to control Iron Man in different variations of his classic armor. At one point in the trailer, we see Iron Man tumbling through space, crashing through an orbiting satellite. Whether we're seeing a rescue mission gone wrong or some kind of deep space fisticuffs is unclear. However, it's important to note that Iron Man's armor in this sequence has white plating replacing the usual hot rod red. 

While it's not an exact match, this space suit greatly resembles Tony Stark's Model 50 Armor from the comics. This armor was notable for utilizing the genetic material of the Klyntar, the symbiotic alien race that spawned some of Spider-Man's greatest enemies, such as Venom and Carnage. If this suit comes from a similar background, it could be an indication of how far Tony is willing to go to prove his worth after the events of A-Day.

Another match for this color scheme is the Mark 39 armor briefly seen in the film Iron Man 3, which was seemingly also built for space missions. Whether the armor in the trailer is related to either of these two or an original creation for Marvel's Avengers, it's good to know that Tony's fashion sense has made the leap to video games.

I know that heroic voice

This game has assembled a star-studded cast of some of the video game and animation industry's top voice talents to bring the heroes of the Marvel universe to life, many of whom are not strangers to superhero adaptations. 

Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey have voiced Thor and Black Widow respectively in previous projects, including the animated series Avengers Assemble. Troy Baker was also a main cast member in that series, voicing Hawkeye. Here, however, Baker has taken on the much more reserved role of Bruce Banner and his raucous counterpart, the Hulk. Though Nolan North voices Iron Man here, he may sound most familiar to Marvel fans for his manic and hilarious performance as Deadpool in several cartoons and the character's eponymous video game. 

Rounding out the cast is veteran voice actor Jeff Schine as Captain America, though it has yet to be revealed if his role will extend beyond the fiery opening of the game. With these being the only confirmed voice actors so far, the game already has quite a bit going for it. It will be exciting to see how many other highly-regarded performers are attached to this project.

It's so close

Perhaps most importantly, we finally know when to expect this long-awaited game. Marvel's Avengers will be arriving to save the day on May 15, 2020. Piggybacking off of the release date reveal, Crystal Dynamics explained a bit more of what gamers could expect when the game launches. 

For PlayStation 4 owners, an early-access beta for the game will be arriving some time in early 2020. In addition to that fabulous news, Crystal Dynamics assured gamers that Marvel's Avengers will not feature the kind of "random loot boxes" or pay-to-win mechanics that plague so many of our favorite franchises, even in co-op settings. Basically, they're saying everything that gamers want to hear, in many ways promising a full gaming experience as upstanding and fun as the Avengers themselves. 

In addition to the core roster of the Avengers that we've seen already in this trailer, new heroes and maps will be rolling out over time as free downloadable content. Basically, A-Day is just the beginning. There's gonna be a whole lot of world-saving to be done when Marvel's Avengers launches in 2020.