Warning: Some minor spoilers for Black Panther Wakanda Forever
EA recently announced it was working with Marvel to produce a handful of games (opens in new tab). The publisher hasn't yet announced the names or the focuses of these projects but everyone seems convinced that one of them is about Black Panther. It's not confirmed but with the continued success of the hero and their continued relevance to the MCU, it would certainly make sense. Now that Black Panther Wakanda Forever is in cinemas, and some of you have seen it, I feel like I can get other people agreeing that if EA is making a Black Panther game, it should be a little bit scary.
Without spoiling too much of Black Panther 2, the first act of the film reads a little more like a thriller than most other Marvel films. One scene, in particular, takes place on a boat in the middle of an ocean. Slowly, but surely, it becomes obvious that although these American troops on the ship think they're the only ones out here, there's something lurking in the water.
Two divers go down into the water, searching for a particularly rare piece of equipment that detects vibranium, and they're taken out swiftly by unseen enemies. Before long, troops on the ship are led to their deaths, throwing themselves off the ship's edge while hypnotised. A man is brutally speared through the chest and a helicopter is batted out of the air with little to no effort by a shadowy figure. This isn't the normal Marvel action scene, I was holding my breath waiting for a jumpscare throughout. Actually this scene reminds me a lot of the very beginning of The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan, a 2019 horror game from Supermassive Games as it paralleled a group of troops on a boat being killed by supernatural forces.
Marvel films have been dipping their toes into the horror scene with its most recent releases. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness was a PG horror superhero adventure while Werewolf By Night turns up the bloodiness dial by quite a margin. And in What If…? Marvel acknowledges the undead with a zombified episode. Marvel has been experimenting with allowing comic book properties to show just how scary they can get and I want that to come to its games too. So, EA, consider making whatever you're working on, Black Panther or otherwise, a little scary please?
I've got a few reasons for wanting a scary Marvel game. I'm useless with horror but genuinely think fear has to come into the equation with superpowered properties in some way. It humanises the hero, and shows that although they might be physically, mentally, magically more powerful than you or I, sometimes that power isn't enough to mitigate their own problems. More power doesn't mean less pain.
One of the reasons Infinity War and Endgame were so good were that they showed that there were consequences to the good guys losing. We saw a version of the world where they had lost and half of everyone in the universe died. Though not horror, we fear that reality. There are stakes on the table. Since Endgame, in the MCU's fourth phase of films, there has been a lack of stakes at play. We know a big baddie of Thanos proportions is on the way as is revealed by Disney+ series Loki so this phase has been about reintroducing a team that will be able to take it on.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever does a much better job than a lot of the other phase four properties at making us worry about the damage the bad guy can cause. Wakanda has been hidden from the eyes of the world for decades and because of Thanos it's now had to reveal its true power and technology to the world. There are other countries such as America and France that are looking to destabilise it and steal its resources and technology. It's not just a hero on the line, it's a country potentially being torn apart, echoing colonisation. That reality put me on edge far more than giant Egyptian gods scuffling or a knock-off Captain America running amok in Europe. And with how ruthless Wakanda Forever can get, it doesn't feel impossible that Wakanda could fall.
Additionally, Marvel inspired games have felt like they fall on the safe side. DC has had some games from the Arkham series and even Injustice. Anyone else remember when Superman killed a child? I know Captain Marvel is kind of an adult but man, that was brutal. At least wait till Billy is 18 right? And not that I want Marvel to kill kids, far from it, but I want to feel as if there is a consequence to the fighting.
So Captain America was dead at the beginning of Marvel's Avengers, but I didn't care because come on he's going to come back right? And Marvel's Spider-Man has some dark points for sure but mostly Peter Parker feels invincible as your friendly neighbour arachnid boy. I spent a lot of time in Guardians of the Galaxy vibing on tunes, and something about LEGO Marvel Super Heroes doesn't exactly seem… intimidating to me. We've had a lot of Marvel games on the more jovial side of the spectrum. I just want to feel as if losing matters. As if Namor or any bad guy really can beat the crap out of me if I set one foot wrong.
Black Panther Wakanda Forever set a great example of how Marvel's heroes can struggle. It has the broad strokes of most Marvel properties like unlikely heroes, just-in-time saves, and geniuses geniusing at the most genius moment to genius, but at least I felt like I feared the thing the heroes feared too. With the loss of T'Challa, the person that made Black Panther what it was symbolically in the films and in real life gone, you don't know who else we could lose.
So, with the tone of Black Panther setting an example of just how dire a hero's world can look with all the best technology in the world, I hope EA's Black Panther game—if it is a Black Panther game—is scarier than the other Marvel properties we've most recently seen. Make me fight for Wakanda. Make me fight for my family and my people, EA. And make me fight so hard I want someone to pay for what they've done. Oh and if you're taking requests, if you could give me a ship to fly too that would be great, thanks.