“Four heroes. Two worlds. One War.”
The highlight of D23 Expo’s Disney and Marvel Games Showcase (no shade, ahem, to Midnight Suns) was the announcement trailer for an as-yet-untitled AAA video game featuring Black Panther and Captain America, set in World War II.
Just a teaser, no release date, no title, no gameplay, and yet this one-minute cinematic is sure to be scrutinized and Marvel fan-alyzed with great anticipation in the months to come.
Game director Amy Hennig confirmed that the Black Panther featured in the game will be King Azzuri, grandfather of T’Challa (T’Challa being the best-known Black Panther in the Marvel Universe, inheriting the title from his forefathers). Captain America will be his younger, pre-iceberg-embedded self, and the other two main characters will be Nanali (leader of the Wakandan spy network) and Gabriel Jones, a soldier serving with the “Howling Commandos” unit (canonically, the one Black man on the squad).
In a post-show interview with IGN, Hennig said that her experience creating games like Uncharted and her affinity for “pulpy, two-fisted romantic adventure” would inform this story, which looks decidedly less multiverse-cosmic and more, well, Uncharted-ish, with wintry Parisian neighborhoods and a swoony old tune straight from Cap’s playlist.
Writer Marc Bernardin added that the game will explore Wakanda’s interaction with World War II: “Wakanda loves being, as we’ve seen in lots of iterations, a cloistered nation-state that doesn’t interact with the rest of the world, but we’re dealing with World War II, which is a war that touched everywhere, and so what would their response be… to Hydra and Germany and Nazis and giant global conflict?”
The premise of the game is an unexpected but intriguing surprise for Marvel-oriented gamers. When it was first announced that Hennig and Skydance New Media were working on a Marvel game, there was much speculation that the game might feature the X-Men or the Fantastic Four. (Also, it’s unclear whether recent unconfirmed rumors about a Black Panther open-world solo game have anything to do with today’s announcement.)
From this Marvel gamer’s perspective, a Black Panther/Captain America WWII period piece is a surprising and stellar idea. It splits the difference between the high bar set by the Insomniac Spider-Man games (their sole flaw is that Spidey is the only playable superperson) and the bad aftertaste from Square Enix’s Avengers game (an ambitious mess, but the melee-oriented Avengers are pretty fun to play, and left you wanting more interesting things for Cap to do).
Potentially, there is a lot of cool source material to draw from, including Hudlin and Romita Jr’s 2005 run on the Black Panther comic (in which Cap and Panther meet in the 1940s and fight for the first time) and Sega’s Captain America: Super Soldier, which did the shield-wielding-and-punching-Nazis vibe pretty well, but is now lost in the mists of 2011 console technology.
More soon to come from NOC’s coverage of D23 Expo 2022, happening this weekend in Anaheim, California.