Bad news came for Marvel fans yesterday when we learnt that Avalanche Studios—the maker of Just Cause—was working on an Iron Man game ten years ago, but it ended up being canned due to "company politics".
The news came as part of a MinnMax interview (opens in new tab) with Avalanche co-founder Christofer Sundberg, who revealed that the developer's Stockholm studio worked with Disney on an Iron Man game for two years before it ended up cancelled.
"It was a mess by the end," said Sundberg, noting that the game's shortening development time and ballooning budget would have required Avalanche to hire an extra "70, 80 people to the team" in order to finish the game to Disney's specifications. "It would have broken the company completely" to do that, he added, pointing out that there wouldn't be a new project for all the extra hires to work on after Iron Man was concluded.
Sundberg didn't go into much detail about how the game would have played, but he did say that a lot of attention was given to the game's melee combat, with a focus on Iron Man's repulsor gloves and the ability to do things like knock enemies through walls. It sounds very much like an Arkham Asylum-style combat system with a bigger focus on destructibility, which is incredibly on-brand for the studio behind Just Cause.
The early 2010s were a heady time for superhero games. In the wake of the success of the first couple of Iron Man films, Sega worked with multiple developers (including the company that would later become Behaviour Interactive, maker of Dead By Daylight) to put out some profoundly terrible tie-in games (opens in new tab). Given that Sega was also working with Avalanche on Renegade Ops around that time, it could be the case that the publisher tried to get Avalanche on board to try to salvage whatever goodwill remained for the Iron Man franchise after several ugly misses.
Sundberg said that it was hard to see two years of work go "down the toilet," but does note that at least the project's termination didn't necessitate any layoffs, as had happened to the company before in 2008. "So much time and energy had been spent on it, and it looked absolutely amazing," said Sundberg, adding that he hopes the game sees the light of day at some point. I wouldn't hold my breath, though, unless a former member of the team finds an old build on their hard drive and puts it out there, it seems unlikely that a decade-old Iron Man game is going to rise from the dead.
An Iron Man game from the people responsible for Just Cause's ludicrous destructivity would hopefully have been pretty interesting, but I won't pretend I'm not totally overfed on Marvel's snarky superheroes by this point. Back in 2012 it might still have felt novel to play Iron Man in an Arkham-style action game, but for now I just want that field to lie fallow.