BRIAN BENDIS Wants You to Create Your Marvel Universe in MARVEL HEROES

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

While the general public knows names like Kevin Feige, Stan Lee, and has maybe even heard the name Joe Quesada, there’s someone else in the background of their favorite Marvel properties today that they should know. Comic book fans, of course, could tell them all about writer Brian Michael Bendis and his exploits in comics, but what they might not know is that he’s also Marvel’s go-to guy for anything even related to their comic book properties.

As part of the Marvel Studios consulting team, he gets “special thanks” on billion dollar Marvel movies for his help in making sure the characters stay true to their comic book roots. After launching the Ultimate Comics line (alongside Mark Millar and under the guidance of the aforementioned Quesada), a comic book universe designed to bring updated and younger versions of the Marvel characters into the 21st century, he was brought in on the writing team for the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, now in the midst of its second season.

So naturally, when Gazillion Entertainment had the opportunity to create a new video game Marvel Universe in Marvel Heroes, launching today Tuesday June 4, 2013, they went to Bendis to write a story that would bring every character, from Spider-Man to the X-Men to the mighty Avengers, together in a world that millions of gamers would shape.

Ahead of the launch of the free-to-play (seriously, you can download and play the entire game without paying a dime) PC game (a Mac version is coming later), we talked to Bendis on a conference call with select other members of the press to discuss what it’s like writing a massive online game, plus over an hour of motion comics that take the place of cutscenes, how he continues to love the Marvel Universe, and why he’ll be sticking with Marvel Heroes for the foreseeable future.

Newsarama Note: Some questions were asked by other press outlets; for the sake of clarity, those will simply be marked “Question:” alongside our own standard “Nrama:” signifier.

But first, feast your eyes and ears on the brand-new launch trailer!

Question: Brian, before we jump into the questions, can you just give us a brief overview of what you did for Marvel Heroes?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah! This was a very, very cool opportunity. The reason I wanted to do it is it seems the Marvel Universe, the way it interacts with its audience since the early days of Stan Lee, seemed like the perfect thing to have as an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game). On top of the way the fans and universe interact with each other, there’s also all the different levels of the universe, be it your dirtiest Daredevil street corner all the way up to your cosmic Galactus planet-eating stuff all in the same universe. That seems like the perfect game platter.

So I was really excited about it, I thought this opportunity to create this Marvel Universe where fans of any medium, be it film, comics, television, any of them, could gather and do what they want to do in the Marvel Universe. That seems to be what all fans want; they have a very specific idea of what the Marvel Universe should be like, what the Marvel Universe could feel like, and now they can make it in their own image.

That sounds fantastic to me. I’m very happy with how the game came out and excited to see what I think is the next level of how fans will interact with these characters.

I pitched this story that does start us on the street-level part of the Marvel Universe, and then can build and build all the way up to the cosmic, and found a way to stitch all those elements together through the machinations of Doctor Doom, already having a cosmic cube in his hands. The Chronicles of Doom [motion comic prequel] show us Doctor Doom as a character of high intelligence who has been stung by failure over and over again. He makes this concerted effort to find a smarter plan, and the smarter plan was to find that power, the cosmic cube. Or as fans from the movies know it as, the Tesseract, in the comics it’s always been the cosmic cube, even in the Hostess Twinkie ads.

But this is an immeasurable amount of power, and because of his expertise in both technology and the magic arts, he feels he’ll be able to rustle that power, and control it. By doing so, he’s wreaking havoc all over the Marvel Universe.

Newsarama: Obviously, Brian, we’ve known you for awhile – it seems like a couple of these characters are ones you specifically wanted included like Luke Cage or Squirrel Girl…

Bendis: No, actually, it was very sweet, I didn’t even have to go that far! I think they kind of just knew to include them without me whining about it. I was actually pretty happy to see that! It also showed that the developers and all the guys behind the scenes were really on the same page with me on what would be cool for a game. They were taking the temperature of the readership while they were doing it. They knew, as crazy as Squirrel Girl’s popularity is, putting her in there, says a lot about not just the wide breadth of the game but who they are, who the people behind the scenes are, that they not only know who she is, but they’ll take the time to make her and put her in the game. They’re “one of us” and not just some soulless, weird developers that just have some gig. They’re really excited to do this.

It’s a pretty crazy group of characters, on top of the ones you expect and want, there are going to be a lot of characters, and some you don’t even know about yet, that will make a lot of people happy. Or at least five people happy.

Nrama: Let me ask you this, then, it seems safe to say you have written, either in the Ultimate or the regular “616” Marvel Universe, every playable character in this game in the comics before. Was there anyone in particular that you were excited to delve into a bit more, or see how they would interact with some of the more disparate parts of the Marvel Universe?

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Bendis: Well just on the most egotistical level, it was nice to see Luke Cage included on the list, and some other characters too, that I just wondered if they’d have made the list before New Avengers. That’s just me being the proud daddy, “oh look, they’re legitimate now!” That just makes me happy. But there are so many.

What I did was I really tried to create a voice for the characters that were the “quintessential” version, not my version or Jon Hickman’s version or Roger Stern’s version, just so they could be relatable to as many players as possible.

Question: You talk about how you think people would like to rebuild the Marvel Universe in their image, and you’ve had a unique ability to do that in the last few years. How is it different when you’re writing “nobody’s version” as opposed to the Bendis version?

Bendis: Well that’s – not to get all Stan Lee – but that’s the responsibility of the gig, you know? Now you’re setting up the player to build it into what they want to build it into. From the earliest days of this project, I said this would be the best thing for the writers of the Marvel Universe. Not one of us isn’t getting like, “why don’t you do this or that, and where’s Dazzler?” I get a letter every five minutes from people asking about Pixie from X-Men. Now I can say, here, here’s your Marvel Universe, now leave us alone! Knock yourself out!

That’s the job. Create the Marvel Universe you think that not only comic book readers, but people coming in from the movies who don’t know where to start with the comics. Or you know, the sizable television audience that are coming in from the animation and [upcoming ABC series] Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. You want to make it as inviting as possible, just as you would any issue of the comics – make it very clear who everybody is, what everybody wants, and hopefully fun!

It’s not unlike what we do on our normal day, which is to make sure every issue could be someone’s first, and make sure it’s inviting and entertaining.

Question: One of the major draws of video games is their longevity – what does a game like Marvel Heroes translate to in number of comics, issue numbers?

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Bendis: I can’t say what it would be in issue numbers, because that’s pretty substantial, but I’ve been working on this for about two and a half years. Add that up. I don’t know, like, over fifty issues of stuff? I couldn’t even come up with a number. It has that “event” feel to it, the story escalates and escalates, and the danger is real. Even from the beginning you’ll see that Doctor Doom’s power level is at a level we haven’t seen before. He does something drastic and huge just to launch the game. It’s an event that goes on for quite awhile. For people that don’t know what those “events” are, those are books like Civil War or Secret Wars, the big events that landmark what the Marvel Universe is capable of. I kind of went towards it like that, so it’s quite a lot.

Let’s say 2,000 issues. (laughs)

Question: You’ve contributed to other video games before, how did this experience compare to that?

Bendis: It’s a much different beast. I’ve been very lucky in the video game world. My last big giant full thing was doing the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, where I met Brian Reed and all the guys at Activision, and they were super cool with us, and as in love with the book as we were. It was a wonderful experience, they held my hand through the process.

So when I came to this job, I had that experience, and even though this is a different animal – so much so, the difference between a single-player console game and an MMO is huge. But I did have a very strong feeling about writing the information – it’s like you’re writing a lot of setup, and then the player takes over. Sometimes for a writer, the setup’s the fun part. So it’s fun! I get to write the setup, then the player has to figure their way out of it, pretty cool.

But it was a similar experience that everyone at Gazillion were big fans, really cool, really knew their stuff, really were doing their homework. The first time I came down to visit them, we just all hung out at a comic book store all day. We really got to know each other, got to know what made each other click, and they helped me through. The biggest difference is, really, there are limitations in the animation and gameplay in what they can and can’t do, so we just wrote towards their strengths. We did it together and it worked out great. I gotta tell you it’s so nice working with lovely, caring people. You don’t know going into a job whether they will or won’t be, and they really were. It was extremely pleasant!

And I really think the die-hard Marvel fans will be relieved to know that the game was put together by people who really give a s#!^ about the characters, just like the writers and editors at Marvel Comics. It’s in the same vein.

Question: How heavily did the Ultimate Universe influence the game, and will we see characters like Miles Morales, or at least a variant costume on Spider-Man?

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Bendis: There are Ultimate costume options, but it is the Marvel Universe proper. There are things from the Ultimate Universe that have seeped very strongly into the Cinematic Universe, obviously Nick Fury being the strongest – those things come through. So it’s mostly the Marvel Universe with a little Ultimate stuff as well.

As far as a Miles Morales costume? I don’t know what I’m allowed to say, as far as – a lot of that stuff isn’t coming at game launch. So… a big maybe? It sounded like a yes, but I guess it’s a maybe. Believe me, I try to shove Miles into everything so don’t worry.

Nrama: Obviously, the hope is for this game to be hugely successful…

Bendis: Nah, not really (laughs).

Nrama: So, the goal is to have a big launch, then have some new characters, some expansions, maybe some new storylines coming in. Is that all stuff you’re signed on to do, and if so do you have any plans formulating in your head of where you want tot take this next?

Bendis: I can tell you from the very first conversation about this storyline, expansion packs were talked about immediately. That’s another reason why the Marvel Universe is begging for this kind of treatment, because anyone worth their salt can think of at least ten expansion packs that would be awesome.

Right away, you say, let’s go to Asgard, let’s go visit the Inhumans, let’s go to Atlantis. There’s all these things and storylines that you can adapt or tweak or create new stuff for. I don’t want to list a whole bunch of them, but there’s so many places for us to go and we’re all excited about that.

Nrama: So that is something you’re signed on for?

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Bendis: Yeah, literally from the first day we got together, I started throwing out expansion pack ideas.

Question: Are there going to be new playable characters, then, or just more NPCs to interact with?

Bendis: I don’t know what I’m allowed to say here…

Evan Dexter, PR: We can’t say much as far as unannounced characters, but Brian and Gazillion will be focusing on community needs and requests. Brian kind of touched on it earlier, but that’s one of the great things about working closely with Marvel Comics, like in the case of Rocket Raccoon.

Bendis: Yeah, one of the pluses of hiring me at all was the fact that I’m neck-deep in what’s going on with Marvel Publishing. Not even just right this second, but what’s going on a year from now, two years from now. So I can go to Gazillion and say, hey, look, we’re doing this, we’re doing that, this character is looking like it’s going to pop, or I happen to know this writer is going to go nuts with this character. And if that’s something that Gazillion gets excited about or think they can do, they immediately take that information and apply it to the game. That sets up for some really cool interaction between the game and publishing down the line where things could start getting really close together. If there’s an event happening in publishing, you may feel it in the game. That kind of stuff will include certain characters.

Or if a character is getting a redesign, we immediately show those designs to Gazillion. For example, we have the original X-Men, which are the stars of my book in All-New X-Men. A lot of fans know they’re getting a redesign, coming with the fiftieth anniversary of X-Men this year. Those designs immediately go to the game team for them to decide if they can or want to include those in their costuming choices for the characters.

So all the stuff like that is the potential for this game that’s unique to any other MMOs, because publishing is a constantly moving organism, and the game is also, so they can move toward each other.

Dexter: To add briefly to that, the decision to add Rocket Raccoon was a direct result of a nudge from Marvel, and that was three years ago, long before rumors or plans of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie were announced. So the guys at Gazillion were scratching their heads a bit saying really? We put Rocket Raccoon in the game? Then when the movie news started coming out, they realized why Marvel wanted him in the game. So how closely Brian and Gazillion and Marvel are working together is giving a unique heads-up to Marvel fans. They’ll get tie-ins with the hottest things happening in the Marvel Universe as it happens, or sometimes even in advance, in the game.

Bendis: Right, before it happens!

Question: Is there a player that you want to play in this game in particular?

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Bendis: Yeah, the anonymous S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that gets killed on the side, that’s me.

No, there are a lot of characters I have a particular fondness for. On the selfish side, there’s no way – there are characters that got redesigned under books I was writing, to include those designs as a legitimate part of that character is very exciting to me – completely on ego, there’s no other way to say this. Having the modern version of Rocket Raccoon, or our version of the Guardians showing up in their Steve McNiven outfits is cool. I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t feel the same way. It just makes the whole thing feel more legitimate to me with what I’m doing in my day job.

Question: We know there are expansions coming, but are there sidequests and things away from the lead story like we see in other MMOs?

Bendis: Oh yeah, there’s tons of stuff coming. This is just the beginning man. The Chronicles of Doom is a prelude for people who don’t know what makes him tick, what he’s capable of. This is just the early stuff, there’s so much coming.

Question: Why did you choose Doctor Doom as the main leader?

Bendis: We had a long talk about it. It just seemed that Doctor Doom’s reach could hit the whole Marvel Universe. His actions could create a domino effect all the way down to Daredevil and all the way up to Thor. He seemed perfect for it.

As we were discussing, making sure the storyline and the game really feels legitimate – not that the Leader or someone wouldn’t be cool, but nobody’s more badass than Doctor Doom. His motivations are also excellent for a villain. They’re not just “I want to rule the world!” He has a very specific agenda that’s a lot of fun to write, has a lot of levels to it, a lot of layers. You can see why he’s gone crazy or what makes him tick. Just seemed perfect!

Nrama: Brian, I’m interested in your experience with juggling hundreds of characters instead of just tens of characters. What was that experience like, how much more did you have to take a step back and outline and research to keep track of all of them?

Bendis: Well, I don’t think it’s any surprise to you that I’ve spent the last 40 years of my 45 year existence doing the research for this game. So there wasn’t much that I didn’t know or didn’t already have a good place for. My day job is constant reading and research. That’s what I call it, research, when I’m sitting on the toilet reading comics! (laughs)

But I do know this stuff pretty well – good lord I should. So I knew these characters inside and out, I’ve known them for years. I have written a lot of them in emotional, and at least to me, important stories for their characters. So I was ready! I was ready to go!

When we were going through all the voice, dialogue for the characters, it was really easy to imagine these characters’ points of view.

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Nrama: Was there anyone that surprised you, then, even from the NPCs?

Bendis: I’m trying to think. When you guys, even with characters like Squirrel Girl or Rocket Raccoon are reacting – it’s crazy to me. Those are the names mentioned early on, and you think in your heart “Oh I hope they don’t run out of time or money to put in those characters!” Because you need to put Captain America and Iron Man and Spider-Man in, right? And you’re glad they want to put Rocket Raccoon in, and you’re hoping at the end of it he’s still in the game, and he is and it makes me very very happy.

So I wasn’t as much surprised as I am relieved that the game turned out to be what it could be, the universe is what it should be. It says a lot about Gazillion. I think they know what die-hard fans like yourself expect from this game. So I’m relieved that it stuck its landing.

Can I tell a funny story from PAX? This story stuck with me. They were nice enough to invite me up to PAX, and we live near Seattle, so my daughter wanted to come up with me to the convention. She’d never been to a game convention. So we come up, my daughter’s sitting in the first row, and I’m on stage. As they’re filling in, she hears this guy saying to his girlfriend, “I know they’re announcing a new character today, and if it’s Squirrel Girl, I am out of here!” And the girlfriend goes, “What?” and he says “I don’t want Squirrel Girl, I don’t want it! If they say Squirrel Girl and everyone’s going to be happy, and I’m mad.”

So my daughter’s listening to this and thinks this guy’s mad. And also this guy’s in the second row, so he’s been waiting in line. He’s been waiting to get into this panel, right?

So we’re on the panel and they announce Squirrel Girl! And they put up the thing, and the whole place goes crazy, all this applause. And behind my daughter the guy goes “that’s it, I’m out of here,” and stood up and left! And the girlfriend goes, “wait, I want to watch the rest of the panel!” He goes, “Nope, we’re leaving!” and he left!

My daughter after tells me this and says “what was that?” And I said, “Sweetie, that was your first introduction to nerd rage! Congratulations!”

So, you know, that’s what this game brought to my family, thank you. Then I had to explain to my daughter that guy was probably in the Beta and would be playing the game anyway.

Question: The motion comic aspect seems to give you more of a direct narrative voice to the story than traditional video cutscenes would. Was that appealing to you, or something you didn’t even really think about?

Bendis: Well, you know, I had dabbled with the motion comics with Spider-Woman and things like that, I was pretty excited to apply what we learned on that to the game immediately, so that was cool. We wanted to create the comic book experience but without you just staring at the screen a long time when you wanted to play. We tried to create something in-between the experience that readers have from the comics and viewers have from movies or television.

So for those who aren’t as familiar with the tone or voice of the characters – everyone knows what Spider-Man sounds like, but you may not know what Black Cat sounds like, right? Or how Spider-Man and Wolverine interact. People who watch the movies have never seen them interact, but that’s something comic book readers would know. So that gave us an opportunity to quickly and concisely let people know what that feels like so when they hop in the game they have a sense of where they are and what they should be doing.

So that’s more what it was about.

Question: You write a ton of Marvel Comics; while you were doing work on this game, and knowing that potential of the game interacting with comics, did you ever write something into a comic so that it could show up in the game?

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Bendis: Not full on, but there are elements that I thought “oh that would work in the game too.” You don’t want to start trying to make a story into everything for everybody. If you’re finished with the story and then think “oh that would be cool for the game as well,” then that’s cool. But you don’t want to be trying to do everything for everybody with one story. The story for the game is written for the game and its strengths. The stories in my comics are hopefully written to the strengths of comics.

But there are little elements. There will be stuff that people have seen in my comics that will pop up in the game, because we thought that would work in the game as well, or that’s a funny bit that would work for the motion comics as well.

I’m probably going to say something I shouldn’t say, but when the characters head over to the Savage Land, there’s a joke I did in New Avengers about the Savage Land, that I gleefully repeated in the game!

Question: I actually have kind of a silly question…

Bendis: We’ve been talking about Squirrel Girl for an hour, no one’s judging. (laughs)

Question: Given some of the other characters, will there be some kind of comically over-exaggerated death of Speedball scene anywhere?

Bendis: (laughs) I didn’t kill Speedball! I can’t take the hit for everything!

But no, I’m not using this game to settle any scores. I have plenty of comics to settle all my scores.

Question: I know in you comics you’ve made some really emotional stories – will there be any of that emotion brought into the game and the motion comics?

Bendis: That’s a very good question, because that is something discussed. You want as a storyteller for people to feel and care. As the motion comics go on and as the stage is set, hopefully you’ll really feel the threat of Dr. Doom and the sacrifices that need to be made.

So yeah, there’s potential there. Of course it’s up to the player whether or not they’ll feel the connection I want them to feel. But that’s why you’d do a Marvel story. Their characters aren’t just puppets. On their best days they live and breathe. The quests and desires they have as characters are really relatable. So yes, absolutely, as the stories continue and the expansions, you’ll really get to feel some stuff.

And thank you for saying that, by the way, because it’s very important to me!

Nrama: Now that you’ve written for games, for TV, you write a good what, 60 issues a year of comics?

Bendis: You’re making me tired!

Nrama: (laughs) You’re working as a consultant for Marvel Studios, too! So, do you think there’s any chance of you getting tired of the Marvel Universe, or is this just where you love to live?

<b>Guardians of the Galaxy #2</b> Joe Quesada variant
Guardians of the Galaxy #2 Joe Quesada variant
Credit: Marvel Comics

Bendis: I gotta tell you. It’s funny you say that, because just yesterday, I was in Burbank working on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. During lunch, Joe [Quesada] and I had to go do a very long phone call with Marvel Studios about one of the movie projects, then on the plane ride home I was writing Guardians of the Galaxy [the comic]. When I came home I said to my wife, “I just had the best day! What a killer day, I had the best day!” Coming up with Spider-Man stuff, talking about the movies… so no! I can’t. It’s a very, beyond my love of the characters, which is overwhelming, everything in front of me is this constant giant puzzle I’m trying to solve. There’s storytelling and character interaction and a million different ways to go, for me to try to make the right choices as a writer. It’s constantly challenging, and all the kind of challenges that I’m looking for in my life as a creative person.

My whole life has been about seeing movies before my friends, and ruining it for them! And Marvel has allowed me the ultimate version of that! I know I can go to Matt Fraction and go, “Yeah, I already read Guardians of the Galaxy. Read that script already.”

Nrama: Well you can go ahead and expand on that, tell us more about it.

Bendis: No! Never! (laughs) That’s the best part about it!

Even, when I think about it, when I first came to Marvel in late 1999, they were just coming out of bankruptcy. The place looked like a garage sale. And in the course of the time – and I’m not taking credit for it, I just happened to be there while they got their stuff together – from the Spider-Man movie to the Iron Man movie to being the major influence in movies right now, one after another, hit hit hit. Iron Man 3 already being the #5 movie of all time. It’s a crazy ascension, and Marvel’s part of Disney now. It’s crazy! What a ride! I’m just holding onto the side of it. It is fascinating, one of the most fascinating pop culture stories of all time, and it’s not even over yet.

So no, boredom never comes into it at all. If it did, I would just bail. I would tip my hat gracefully and say “that was a lot of fun, that was more than I ever hoped for.” But that doesn’t seem to be happening right now.

Question: It strikes me that video games are a very different challenge from writing anything serialized; it seems like it might have to be more plot driven because the emotional choices are made by the players, is that accurate?

Bendis: Well yes and no. The plot stuff and the mechanics of the game put together by the designers at Gazillion and the story editors and so many people behind the scenes. I’m one piece of a many pieced puzzle of people who put this all together. I looked at my job as to make sure the voices of the characters are intact. With that comes not just how they speak but what they want, what their goals are, what they bring to the Marvel Universe that’s unique. That usually is the thing that made whoever the player is care about the character in the first place, or even want to play this game in the first place.

I just looked at it as that’s my job, to distill the character down to its core essence and make that as inviting and relatable as possible. That really isn’t that different than what my dayjob is. But here, there’s a time and a place for it and I make sure that time and a place that’s it’s there.

And listen, there are going to be people that want to play this and just run around and be crazy and they won’t hit any of these emotional levels because they just don’t want to. But people who really care about these characters will, and if they want to, it should be there for them.

Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Screenshot from MARVEL HEROES
Credit: Gazillion

Question: One of the loglines of this game is as the most authentic Marvel Universe experience in video game form, which can be a bit intimidating. What do you think makes this game feel authentic?

Bendis: All of the things we just talked about. A Number 1, the heavy connection to Marvel Publishing, and the fact that it can be this continually evolving thing.

Think back to the 60s. Stan Lee was the first guy who talked right to the reader. He made you feel like part of the Marvel bullpen, he made you feel like part of the experience. A lot of it was Stan’s trademark carnival barker showmanship, but it really was the thing that connected us to the characters. “We’re part of something!” And that’s why you started picking up all the issues instead of just a couple of them. For the modern audience, it seems to me that a game like this can be that next step of evolution. We as fans have always been part of the Marvel Universe can now play the Marvel Universe.

I’ve literally been chasing this down for years. Some of you who know your game stuff, know that there was another attempt at this a few years ago which I was part of at Microsoft. When it fell apart for whatever reason, I have no idea why it fell apart, I said to TQ at Marvel Games, “if this ever comes up again, please let me know because I really believe that for the next generation of Marvel fans, this is the absolute connection that no other pop culture universe has, and I want to be part of it. So I’m glad I got to be.

Question: Was there anything you wanted to put into the game that didn’t make the cut that you can talk about?

Bendis: Just some silly stuff that didn’t work as game stuff. But you never know as the game evolves, we may find a way to do it, because I’ve been thinking about it. There’s all these characters and little bits and pieces here and there that don’t fit into a game, but as the game evolves, you never know. I’ll find a way to shove them in there somehow.

Nothing I can think of. Also, people like myself will tend to obsess about what we didn’t get in the game, and I’d rather them focus on what we did get in there, which is quite a lot. What I’m talking about is little stuff.

And we couldn’t use Batman! (laughs)

And everybody knows, Marvel doesn’t own the character, but it is very sad that Rom is not in this game. So there you go.

Question: One last question about expansion packs – since you introduced Rocket Raccoon, will there be any galactic storylines with Thanos, Galactus, anyone like that?

Bendis: I certainly can’t publicly make a promise of any sort of thing like that, but the potential is there. Anyone with a little bit of imagination, seeing what happened at the end of the Avengers, there’s certainly a lot of potential for that.

Nrama: Well, since we’re wrapping up here, would you just tease for us a particular story bit or character interaction you are personally excited for players to check out?

Bendis: Well I am very excited about the PvP stuff! I think a lot of people are going to be able to blow off steam and dig into some stuff that’s been on their minds in that area of the game. I’m excited about the story stuff of course, but the PvP stuff is gonna be – it’s like Marvel Civil War never ends!

Question: You’ve implied that the game could have some direct connection with the comics – what happens if someone gets killed in the comics?

Bendis: Yeah, what happens? That’s a good one!

I don’t think we’d ever take a character away from you, but it is interesting. This goes back to my half-joke – let’s say Luke Cage dies in the comics and you’re furious, then you can go play your Luke Cage and he’s alive and well and I can go screw myself! (laughs)

And by the way, Luke Cage is not dying, I’m not even writing him right now, please don’t write that as the headline.

But yeah, if we do something that annoys you in the Marvel Universe, you can do whatever you want!

Question: Any hints as to upcoming projects related to Marvel Heroes?

Bendis: I will say that I’m excited, legitimately excited for the potential that there would be some crossover between publishing and the game, that we would be able to create a story happening in both publishing and the game at the same time. That is something beyond an expansion pack that I would like very much like to happen, and something I’m bringing to the next Marvel publishing retreat full force. I think one of the next levels for this game to interact with the Marvel Universe proper is to have a story that happens in both places at the same time.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Marvel Heroes is now launched, free to download and play at

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