Superheroes can be a delicate group to work with. Movie tie-ins almost always fail (don't touch Thor: God of Thunder), but some, like Captain America: Super Soldier, manage to have decent showings. Without the constraints of making games that coincide with films, we've seen more flexibility in the design. Of course, that's not always a good thing. Sure, we've had arguably the best game of 2011 in Batman: Arkham City, but we've also been forced to endure debacles like X-Men: Destiny.
In the midst of all this, you'll find some truly underrated icons that get a cameo when they deserve a spotlight. Here are ten such characters.
Now, I've created my own parameters for the choices below. All are heroes who've never had a game dedicated solely to them (save one exception), and I've been fair by choosing five characters from DC and five from Marvel. Of course, every fan has their stalwart selections that may not have made the list, so, by all means, fill up the comments section below. But here's a better idea: Tell us which Supervillains need their own games, and your choices may show up in a feature next month.
Son of the original Starman, Jack never had desires to fill his father's heroic shoes. Even after Jack embraces his destiny, you've got Nash, the daughter of the Mist, who forces Jack to impregnate her so she can bear a child raised to hate him. Juicy stuff for sure. This modern Starman has a unique style, forgoing a traditional superhero costume for street clothes, a leather jacket, and tank goggles. Although not blessed with innate powers, there's more than enough variety in the powers of his cosmic staff to keep gamers involved, with flight, object levitation, and offensive and defensive energy manipulation that can be used to create force fields and launch energy blasts.
Yes, I know Hawkeye started as a villain, but life is just so much better in the company of the Avengers. Of course, over the span of his career he seems to shift in and out of their service, a fact that could make for an interesting gameplay mechanic of personal-versus-group choices, consequently shaping the campaign as players progress. Another hero sans superpowers, Hawkeye more than makes up for it with his expertise in fencing, acrobatics, hand-to-hand combat, and, of course, marksmanship. For a little flair, you could have some Clint Barton variants, taking the monikers of Goliath and Ronin as he has in past comics, or stealing some of Iron Man's gadgets as he likes to do on occasion.
Always hidden behind the cape of Batman, Robin never gets full credit for his actions. With only a flair for acrobatics, it's hard to imagine him playing more than second fiddle. After all, his original design was to lure a younger audience into comic books—not exactly a golden ticket for hardcore gamers. But how about throwing a severe "identity" crisis into the mix, or some sort of timeline shifts? The game could feature all the Robin suit wearers, from Dick Grayson to Jason Todd to even Bruce Wayne's murder-happy son, Damian. It could go even further with some unlockable Robin hybrids like Nightwing and Red Hood.
"It's clobberin' time!" This is a classic line we wouldn't mind following through on in battle. The most recognizable character of the Fantastic Four, The Thing is a powerhouse of strength who is also surprisingly sociable and witty. Finally a hero with some genuine superpowers (albeit granted by cosmic radiation), The Thing is built to last. With stamina and defenses well above par, constant swarms of enemies would be fun to tackle in a Thing action game. Of course, Ben Grimm was also blessed with a strong intelligence and ace pilot skills, which could add some new dimensions to a brutish formula. And it would be great to see a final showdown against the Hulk, although I'd put my money on Bruce Banner.
Call me a sucker for the bow and arrow, but this member of the Justice League has more in his quiver than just shafts with metal tips. Designed with Batman's gadgetry in mind, Green Arrow has crafted several unorthodox projectiles, with flash bangs, tear gas, explosives, nets, and glue types, just to name a few. I would love to see a solid resource and crafting feature in a Green Arrow game, with dozens of possible arrow creations and a combination system that has you finding that perfect set to do battle with. Green Arrow may have had a rollercoaster ride in terms of popularity, but there's no denying that his character could bring some unique design choices to the world of gaming.