Gaming as a whole has toyed with the idea of superhero games for the 17 and over set. Games like Prototype, Punisher and Wolverine: Origins gave it a shot, and so will the just announced Deadpool game. Now that Deadpool is coming to gaming with all his violence and swears seemingly intact, what other mature comic franchises deserve to follow in his bloody footprints? Here are just a few that come to mind...
Punisher vs The Marvel Universe
"But there's already been a few Punisher games," you protest. True, but not really like the one we're imagining. Previous games starring Frank Castle gave hints of the greater Marvel Universe, but we want this one with him right in the middle of it. We want the morally righteous killer hunting bad guys like Venom, killing losers like Stiltman, and fighting similarly dark Marvel stars like Wolverine, Hulk and Deadpool. In fact, they should just go all out and recreate the classic "What if... Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe" special to see him violently off every costumed do-gooder in increasingly inventive (and gruesome) ways.
On the surface Invincible is merely a tribute everything colorful and innocently unique about superheroes. And while that's mostly true, when a battle gets serious in the series, the fights rival Mortal Kombat in their gore. Title character Invincible is the top hero of his world, right wrongs like a young Superman, but as the series continues he faces threats bigger than your average bank robbers. When Invincible faces world-threatening bad guys, both sides go all out with insanely viscous fistfights. Broken limbs, decapitations, exposed organs, nothing is off limits and the shift between the colorful adventures and savage beatings makes the use of violence even more shocking.
Set in a world all its own, Powers is a police procedural that deals with serious crimes while super-powered characters hang in the periphery. Detectives Christian and Deena investigate homicides but have to deal with costumed community often getting in the way. Heroes and the people around them are all too human, making mistakes, hiding secrets, and dying at a moment's notice. Solving grisly crimes, dodging lightning and arresting the bulletproof could make for an impressively mature mix of LA Noire and The Avengers.
Society currently can't get enough of zombies, a fact Marvel Comics stumbled upon with the runaway success Marvel Zombies. Set in an alternate dimension, a plague has zombified Earth, including all the super folks. Retaining their powers but starving for living flesh, heroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man and Hulk have just enough of their memories to realize what monsters they've become but not enough to stop themselves. It make for a macabre adventure in game form, especially when they have to unite against the Silver Surfer and his master Galactus. It'd be a huge hit, someone just needs to have the guts to make it happen.
Super teams like the Justice League and Avengers are great at stopping would-be conquerors like Loki or the Injustice Gang, but what about every day villains like genocidal dictators and the corruption of the modern world? That's what The Authority fought. A collection of super-powered beings on the same level as the Justice League (including Batman and Superman analogues that were in a steady relationship), Authority fought social injustice and the status quo just as much violently as they handled supervillains, which quite violent indeed. Always controversial and out to make a point while simultaneously delivering some of the most creatively violent fight scenes in comic history, Authority could hopefully find a new home on your game console.
It's tough being a mutant, surrounded by people that judge and fear you. Unless you turn your mutant-powered adventures into a reality show and act as vapid as the society you're exploiting. X-Statix are a superteam as interested in their ratings as they are with saving people and they aren't above killing to get the job done. But behind the vapid exteriors of characters like martial arts expert Orphan, pill-popping teleporter U-Go Girl and intellectual werewolf Vivisector lays an existential emptiness. Isn't it about time a superhero games dealt with existential dread?
Superman is the greatest hero of them all, but what if one day he got sick of the constant pressure and having to hold back for the sake of the world. What if he snapped and killed everyone in Metropolis, beat the Justice League to a bloody pulp and decided to rule the terrified remainder of humanity? That's the core concept of Irredeemable, where Super-cipher Plutonian snaps and destroys society when he lacks the compassion and humility of Clark Kent. The game wouldn't star him, instead featuring the remaining heroes in hiding as they try to find a way to defeat someone that overpowers them so significantly. Turns out Superman can also be the greatest villain of all time.
Don't mistakenly think Hitman aka Tommy Monaghan is DC's answer to Punisher, because he's a pretty normal, non-psychotic guy. Tommy kills people for money, but he only kills people he deems as evil, which is usually mob enforcers. Tommy enjoys a beer with his friends, but increasingly gets pulled into deadly situations, usually operating on the periphery of the superhero world in Gotham. Tommy is more likely to insult people like the Justice League for their self-importance and his game should have a similar mocking tone for superheroics while also being waist-deep in firearms. It would feature the book's mix of serious situations and with ridiculous situations. We'd love to see a recreation of the zombie aquarium or dinosaur-hunting arcs in gaming form.
We think everyone would agree Batman is pretty awesome. But what if a different deranged billionaire was just as dedicated to destroying law and order? Would that be even cooler? That's Nemesis, a murderous madman that searches the globe for the most incorruptible lawmen and then precedes to systematically ruin their lives. Featuring insane action like a one-man prison riot and the hijacking of Air Force one, Nemesis is just the type of eccentric sociopath gamers have come love.
Old Man Logan
Wolverine something of a pioneer when it comes to super games, with the somewhat recent tie-in easily earning an M with tons of violence. That game ended with hints of the iconic Days of Future Past, but we'd rather the next Wolvie game take on the possible future of Old Man Logan. In this dark timeline the worst villains rule the world and the few heroes that aren't dead are in hiding. Logan has sworn to never use his claws again, but when his family is in danger, he ventures out into the ruined world in hopes of saving them. Despite his age, Logan's life becomes as bloody as ever, which the game would have to reflect. The glorious battle between Logan and the group of inbred, trailer park Hulks alone means it must exist.
A fairly unknown series, we really love Codeflesh for its inventive, yet practical premise. Cameron is a put-upon bail bondsman in a world of super beings, and that includes dirtbag supervillains that skip out on their bond. His is a dingy world filled where he uses his modest super powers to hunt down bail jumpers that often beat the stuffing out of him while he struggles to balance his work and personal life. Its a great set-up for a Rockstar-type character driven game, filled with shady strip clubs and ugly men doing terrible things, with our hero just trying to get by. (Never heard of the series? Read the first issue here.)
Blood, guts and spandex!
So there are our picks for superhero games that should be aimed at the grown-ups out there, but were sure we missed a few. Any mature costumed adventures you want to see translated to gaming in its purest form? We want to know in the comments!
Need to read more about comic books? Read our history of Batman games to the best and worst of Batman adventures and then find out the 9 greatest comic book games that dont star superheroes.