Marvel's Avengers is getting a Spider-Man crossover, but not the one you want
Talk about a missed opportunity.
When the likes of Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, and Thor reunite in Crystal Dynamic's upcoming Marvel's Avengers game published by Square Enix, plenty of other Avengers will be missing in action. But Associate Art Director Jeff Adams confirmed in a Monday afternoon PlayStation Blog post that Spider-Man would swing his way onto the scene at some point in 2021.
Don't get your hopes up for the epic, Sony-exclusive crossover this should have been, however, because it won't be the version of Spider-Man you've dreamt of ever since Marvel's Avengers was announced.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sony owns "all" of the rights to Spider-Man, when in reality, Sony owns the film rights to Spider-Man and Marvel Entertainment owns the other rights to the character.
"I get to be the first to announce that our own Crystal Dynamics take on Spider-Man is teaming up with Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Black Widow of Marvel’s Avengers," Adams wrote in the PS Blog post. This will be the Crystal Dynamics "take" rather than the Insomniac Games take from the superb 2018 Marvel's Spider-Man game.
Square Enix's Avengers Project game was originally announced as a partnership with Marvel way back in January 2017, but especially after the PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game was such a hit, it felt like a no-brainer that Sony might figure out a way to make these two games cross over in some fashion. There are plenty of details in the Spider-Man game that let us know that the Avengers exist in this world and with a remastered version slated for release on the PlayStation 5 with a Miles Morales spin-off, it seems like a natural way to expand the franchise moving forward.
But despite the farfetched dream that Insomniac Games and Crystal Dynamics might somehow figure out a collaboration, these two Marvel gaming universe will have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Sony owns the exclusive film rights to Spider-Man, but Marvel Entertainment retains all other rights to the game. The 2018 Spider-Man game was created as the result of some kind of an agreement between Sony-owned Insomniac Games and Marvel.
As reported by IGN, Sony Vice President of Product Development Connie Booth met with Insomniac, seemingly on behalf of Marvel, to ask what unique superhero story they might want to tell. The team settled on Spider-Man.
That the games are PlayStation exclusives is totally unrelated to the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the character being part of a contentious agreement between Disney and Sony. This latest collaboration makes it seem like a wider exclusivity that Sony has over the character, and while that may anecdotally be what's happening behind the scenes, there's nothing official to confirm as much.
"We can’t wait for you to add Spider-Man to your Marvel’s Avengers roster in early 2021," the blog post reads, "and as we’ve promised before, he will be available at no additional cost to owners of the base game, exclusively on PlayStation."
Based on comments from Adams, the Crystal Dynamics version of Spider-Man will more closely resemble the novice hero from the MCU than he does the veteran from Marvel's Spider-Man. He calls this hero "a familiar but fresh Spider-Man who needs to evolve to take on global threats alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes," citing one comics storyline where Spider-Man hunts down a robber in the suburbs. It's a bit that was also adapted into Spider-Man: Homecoming.
We're reaching peak saturation in terms of the number of Spider-Men (Spider-Mans?) out there. Not only have three actors played the character in live-action over the past two decades, but there's also Into the Spider-Verse's multiple iterations to consider, along with these various iterations of the character in gaming. While the prospect of yet another sounds a bit exhausting, at least Crystal Dynamics seemingly wants to emulate what the 2018 Insomniac game was going for with its fluid combat and travel mechanics.
"When he’s arcing through the air on his web line, we want you to feel graceful and light, and be able to utilize a variety of web configurations and gadgets to enhance your traversal," Adams writes. "Spider-Man’s impressive acrobatic abilities will complement the experience, allowing you to seamlessly transition from navigation to combat." On the plus side, Spidey's inclusion in the game means he'll have access to unique technology resources from "Hank Pym, SHIELD, Stark Industries, and more."
This new version will also have skill trees, allowing players to customize their Spider-Man to fit more unique playstyles. While multiple costumes will be available, the default will resemble the classic design with the under-arm web wings.
All things considered, this is cause for excitement, but Crystal Dynamics is coming up against some severely tough competition. Whatever they do with Spider-Man, can it compare to what Insomniac Games does? We'll have to wait until next year to find out.
Marvel's Avengers will be released September 4, 2020.