Great Power, Great Responsibility
So, Marvel is teaming up with Telltale. That's, what, 37 different projects the point 'n' click powerhouse is simultaneously working on now? But hey, I'll forego my scepticism a little - if only because the sheer breadth of possible subjects Telltale has to work with is quite so exciting.
It's fairly likely that we'll simply see a tie-in to the Marvel Cinematic universe - what with three films already scheduled for the mooted 2017 launch, not to mention a probably similar number of Netflix series by that point, we can see this slotting in amongst them. But what if they went a bit further afield, took inspiration from a comic book run we can read right now? Well, here are seven possible results.
Clint Barton is kind of a dull guy, eh? That was exactly the point of Matt Fraction's brilliant run with the character - his was a comic about a superhero who rarely feels super, juxtaposing the ludicrous events in his life with the day-to-day business of chatting with neighbours, drinking coffee and taking care of a dog that absolutely loves pizza.
In fact, it shares quite a lot with The Wolf Among Us, making this familiar ground for Telltale. The Fables-derived game had its best moments in the early episodes, as we get to know Bigby Wolf, his fellow fairy tale citizens and their limbo-like existence. Transplant that colourful ennui into the world of an off-duty Avenger and you have yourself a winner.
Bonus points if we get to play as the dog at some point.
There are many reasons not to choose Deadpool: The fact that he already has a film coming out, how awful his last game was, his unethical position as tacit salesperson for the Mexican food industry. And yet Deadpool would offer something to the Telltale formula that no one else on this list could - a chance to have a conversation with your own character.
Deadpool's notable for breaking the fourth wall, for speaking to the reader (and, occasionally, murdering his own creators). A Telltale game based around him needn't have you play the hero, or anyone else for that matter. You play yourself, the viewer, speaking to Wade Wilson as he goes about his lunatic business, trying (probably in vain) to stop him killing so many people and guide him down the heroic path, or egging him on down the villainous line he's threatened to cross before. It could be legitimately fascinating.
Plus, he could make jokes about enchiladas or whatever.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Squirrel Girl is adorable - that's the point. She was designed to bring some levity back to the never-ending dourness of the Marvel universe. Despite her relative shortcomings - she has the "proportional strength and speed of a squirrel" - she's consistently upbeat. It's her good attitude that tends to help her succeed - perhaps proven by the fact that she recently got her own solo series after 20 years of bit-part appearances.
Basically, she'd be a lot of fun to hang around with. Telltale games live or die by their characters - we have to enjoy every facet of their personality, not just their ability to fire a gun. Doreen Green is funny, irrepressible and smart. Add to that her recent enrollment at Empire State University and we have ourselves the making of Telltale's first college comedy. It's a winner.
Superior Iron Man
Telltale's steadily edged towards antiheroism, but it's never let you play as the bad guy. In this run, Tony Stark's had his personality messed with, turning him into an alcoholic egotist with a spectacularly cruel plan to enact. He proves this by moving to San Francisco (home of evil).
Essentially, we get all the cockiness and genius-level techno-fun we know from Tony Stark, but with none of the superhero super-ego. He can do what he likes - meaning so can Telltale. Screwing with the uptight heroes of the Marvel universe sounds just about perfect to me.
Excellently, Superior Iron Man's story centres around what amounts to a huge criticism of free-to-play mobile games, so it'd let Telltale get a little evil themselves and stick the boot into a few other devs as they go.
This one's better for the format of an episodic game than for the content. By which I mean it's perfect. Every issue of Spider-verse takes place in a different alternate universe, chosen from Marvel's infinitely expanding set - each with a different Spidey (or three) as the star. We've had the obvious (Ultimate Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy's Spider-Woman), the oddball (anime mecha Spider-Man, Man-Spider) and the totally unexpected (a '60s animated cartoon Spider-Man who is invincible because of pure positivity).
It can become comedy, drama and science-fiction on the turn of a dime, but it's all tied together by a multiverse-spanning evil threat arc - so give us four episodes of separate storylines spun together in a huge crossover final act. It'd be a new approach for Telltale, an opportunity to flex their artistic muscles, but come with the safety of a well-known character at its centre.
If Telltale was looking to return to something a little darker, this is the place to do it. X-Force is the X-Men's post-apocalyptic black ops side project, headed up by a Wolverine who really couldn't give less of a shit about carving people in half anymore. It features a cast of dubious types willing to do anything to keep the mutant race alive. If you need an example of how serious this all is, Deadpool barely gets a chance to make jokes. Chilling stuff.
Quite apart from anything else, it's a good fit for Telltale because it focuses as much on dialogue as it does on gory super-violence. Brushing past everything from love in the workplace to the dubious political ramifications of sending deny-all-knowledge mutant death squads across the globe, there's a whole lot to dig into here.
OK, she doesn't have her own comic run yet, but there's a fair chance Telltale will play impressario by plucking a character from obscurity and making them a star. The fourth incarnation of Wraith, Yuri Watanabe, is a New York cop driven to Dexter-like lengths by the frustrations of her job. Instead of just wrapping bad guys in clingfilm and cutting them up like a normal person, however, she stole a special mask, dressed up as someone else's ghost and started beating people up in her downtime.
You don't get too much of the good ol' fashioned secret identity stuff anymore, but following Yuri through her regular police work before donning a mask to get the job done would be a neat trick for Telltale to pull - and we could always have some "vigilantism is bad" moralising to spice things up.