It’s safe to say that Marvel’s Avengers hasn’t received the rapturous reception developer Crystal Dynamics hoped for. An unknown quantity for a very long time, the revelation that it’d be an online game-as-service, combined with a trailer that didn’t showcase any gameplay, made fans naturally suspicious. But one of the bigger complaints was that the title isn’t using the likenesses of the MCU actors.
This has kicked up sufficient fuss that Creative Director Shain Escayg has addressed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he said the following:
“We wanted to make an original Avengers game and go back to the roots in the comic books. … We wanted to clearly show that this was our spin on the Avengers… Even the way we cast these characters was based on our story and our narrative.”
Lead combat designer Vince Napoli also chipped in, explaining:
“It’s creating a new Marvel Universe. We were creating a brand new thing in collaboration with Marvel, so it really did demand our own characters.”
Okay, well that’s the party line, but should we buy it? Though they’re claiming it’s for artistic reasons, there’s no getting around that licensing the likenesses of A-listers like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson is going to cost a ton of money, which would only increase the budget if they then got them in to do voice acting.
It seems pretty straightforward to me that they simply couldn’t afford this, and have settled for characters that strongly resemble what we see on screen instead. The question remains, though: why, if you’re creating an entirely new universe, do the Marvel’s Avengers characters look almost exactly like their MCU counterparts except for the faces? Honestly guys, if it would be too expensive just tell us – it’s totally understandable!
It’s notable that Marvel’s Spider-Man managed to release without any controversy about its Peter Parker not resembling Tom Holland, primarily because their Spidey-verse was obviously separate from any existing continuity. If Crystal Dynamics didn’t want to create this controversy, then maybe they should have set out to visually differentiate themselves from the MCU a bit more.