Assemble

Why the Fortnite Season 4 Marvel crossover probably isn't what you expect

Marvel's Avengers will assemble in Fortnite, but are they from Marvel's Avengers?

Following up on a flurry of leaks and speculation on Wednesday teasing that the next season of Fortnite: Battle Royale would be Marvel-themed, Epic Games confirmed it in a Friday morning tweet feature Thor. While the timing of Season 4's launch, now confirmed for August 28, seems conveniently close to the September 4 release of Marvel's Avengers (which has already crossed over with Fortnite in the form of some pickaxes), the Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 4 version of Earth's Mightiest Heroes will seemingly be something else entirely.

In fact, it looks like the new Fortnite Marvel characters will be ripped directly out of newer Marvel comics. Will that disappoint gamers? Or get them excited to read comics? It may do both.

Epic Games tweeted at 10 a.m. Eastern Friday a 12-second video clip of the Fortnite logo featuring a blonde figure with lightning crackling in their eyes. In case it wasn't obvious enough that this is Thor, the caption are three emojis for a hammer, lightning bolt, and rainbow. (The rainbow probably references the Bifrost bridge Thor famously uses to travel.)

Interestingly enough, this image does at least confirm that Season 4 will utilize newer redesigns of Marvel characters from the comics rather than models from the Marvel's Avengers game, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or more classic/generic versions.

Written by Donny Cates, Thor was relaunched in January with Thor (2020) featuring a brand-new redesign that makes the god of thunder look like Legolas' buff uncle. Rather than more rugged- and grizzled-looking versions of the character we've seen in almost every previous iteration, Thor has no beard and now wields his majestic platinum blond hair alongside that mighty hammer.

In the Fortnite teaser, there's a very visible black "V" on Thor's forehead, which is the obvious tell that it references the exact same design scheme. Thor undergoes such a drastic transformation in the comics because the Great Black Winter revealed to Galactus that Thor would destroy him, so very early in this storyline, Galactus transforms Thor into his new Herald using the Power Cosmic. That's why Thor looks so majestic; It's the most powerful version of the character to ever exist.

And now he'll be joining Fortnite.

Thor now looks like Legolas' cool, buff uncle.Olivier Coipel / Marvel Comics

Like everything else in Fortnite, however, the presence of Herald Thor will probably be purely a cosmetic one. He surely won't be alone either. 2020 also includes major Marvel Comics redesigns and relaunches for Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, Spider-Man, Venom, and more. So depending on what happens next with Fortnite, it may become clear that Marvel is using the battle royale platform to promote the comics.

In the past, Epic Games tends to roll out teasers for the new season up to a week beforehand, oftentimes tweeting out a new image every day leading up to the new season's launch. Which is to say that the company will probably reveal more characters in the coming days.

We don't know for sure yet if the theme is "Avengers" or more broadly "Marvel" just yet, but we do know this particular design references recent versions of the character in Marvel Comics rather than Crystal Dynamics' Marvel's Avengers game.

Previously, it felt tempting to assume the new Fortnite season is tied directly into the game, especially when you consider that anyone who plays the Marvel's Avengers beta — which has its final beta weekend from August 21 to 23 — can earn a Hulk Smashers pickaxe in Fortnite if they complete three HARM room challenges on Xbox One or PS4. And Marvel's Avengers, of course, will be released exactly one week after the new Fortnite season launches. As a promotional stunt, the timing just sort of works out, however that may have been little more than a coincidence.

Somehow, 'Fortnite' considers big fists a pickaxe.Epic Games / Marvel Entertainment

Despite some delays in the start of Season 3, the fourth season of Fortnite Chapter 2 was always slated to begin in late August. Marvel's Avengers, however, was originally aiming a May 15 release date. Crystal Dynamics announced the delay in mid-January (more than a month before the pandemic went global), setting the new release date of September 4. So for both of these launches to occur within a week of another isn't necessarily related.

Fortnite previously hosted promotion events tied to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. And there also been a slew of previous Marvel-themed skins including Deadpool, Captain America, Star-Lord, Black Widow, and more. Season 4's offerings, however, will seemingly be of a totally different variety focused on comics-accurate versions of characters.

All of this may be a source of confusion for the masses, who grew to love these characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the wide appeal of the live-action movies. If Fortnite inspires a new generation of gamers to pick up bonafide comics, then that's a great thing. Either way, it's still exciting to see Fortnite going a little less mainstream with its crossovers — and for an entire season's theme to be focused on something as cool as Marvel Comics.

Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 4 will begin on August 28, 2020.