The Dreaded Backlog: Lego Marvel Superheroes
I loved the Lego Batman games. A brief peruse of this website will show that I love DC too. I have been denying Marvel any attention for far too long. I was still in the mood for a modern Lego game, but something different to DC (I did complete this before Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham by the way). The obvious option is Lego Marvel Superheroes.
Thankfully unlike later Lego Marvel titles this one is not set in the MCU and thus the game has access to characters owned by other studios such as The X-Men and The Fantastic Four. It’s great to have a Lego adventure that threads together a story involving The Avengers, The X-Men and the Fantastic Four, with a cameo from the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end too. The bright Marvel aesthetic works will with the Lego aesthetic.
Character abilities are also inspired. Mr Fantastic can reach this and fit through small spaces and his attack animations are delightfully stretchy. If you enjoy button bashing in Lego games they have given you Wolverine to do so with. Swinging Spider-Man around is beautiful too. Changing puny Banner into Hulk and back whenever you like was fun too. However there was something about being Iron Man was best. He can fly, take damage and shoot lasers and look cool whilst doing all of it. On the other hand these games don’t leap as joyfully into obscure characters as the Lego Batman titles do. I’m sure they are there in the game if you want to look, but I didn’t really want to.
Like Lego Batman 2 this game has an open world city. However given this is the Marvel universe it isn’t a fun out-of-this-world city like Gotham or Metropolis, but a plain Legoified version of New York. It has the usual nooks and crannies you’d expect for an open world, but it is hardly worth exploring visually. Thus I didn’t feel a need to go looking for obscure characters. Annoyingly Stan Lee does also pop up far too often as though we hadn’t had enough of him in the films. Would kids get the joke? Do children notice Stan Lee cameos in the MCU films? I dunno.
However the campaign does have a few notable locations. The hub world that loads up as the game starts is the SHIELD helicarrier. The story takes you to the Avengers base, Doctor Doom’s castle, The X-Mansion and a prison. I mention the prison because it is very grey, just like the Avengers base and Doctor Doom’s castle. Whilst the latter may have interesting brickwork the level itself overstays its welcome, just like the X-Mansion. There isn’t really a standout level that is wholly satisfying. When you think you’ve found one it then goes on way too long. I haven’t brought up Asgard yet (see above) because I honestly forgot I even went there in the game until I was adding pictures to this piece. I mentioned earlier that the aesthetic is colourful, but really I just mean the characters.
Some of the character design is fun and others are uninspired, if still full of colour. Traveler’s Tales enjoy using the X-Men and Fantastic Four in their more colourful classic costume designs, but MCU characters get the brand synergy treatment and end up in slightly duller MCU-esque designs.
Although Iron Man’s MCU design is close to the comics and is still obviously cool. The character interactions are often neat, but the humour is off. Not unfunny or cringey, just off. Rather than being a loving spoof the game seems to aim for being a straight Marvel story with some banter in it and the occasional send up. However they only send up low hanging fruit like MODOK and Galactus and when they do it feels scathing rather than loving.
I know it is unfair and reductive to keep comparing this game to the Lego Batman games. I know it also makes me sound like a DC fanboy. It’s just an easy comparison to make and the Lego Batman games feel more like passion projects and this feels like a competent impression of Marvel’s own particular beauties. I wanted to connect with the Marvel world I’ve read in the comics and seen in the films (some of them anyway). I just didn’t feel that love of the lore coming through. The following Lego Marvel game is a MCU adaptation and I can only imagine that compounds the problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I had fun. If you love Marvel then you’ll definitely get a kick out of it. If you’re not that bad a Marvel fan, I’d recommend Lego Batman 2. Whatever you decide, you’ll certainly smile at some point. Plus Iron Man is cool.
What is a Dreaded Backlog?