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Transition of Iron Man, Hulk from comics to big screen to game screen is Marvelous

Monday, April 28, 2008

Transition of Iron Man, Hulk from comics to big screen to game screen is ‘Marvel’ous
By Michael Lafferty

SEGA to release games to coincide with theatrical releases

In a few days time, Tony Stark makes his big-screen debut as Iron Man. In June, Bruce Banner gets another video treatment when The Incredible Hulk hits theaters. As the films hit the theaters, gamers will have the chance to play out the superheroes in video games being released for existing and next-gen console systems.

It is a wonderful marketing ploy by Marvel and game publisher SEGA, but more importantly, it is a boon to comic-book fans who are also video gamers. Why? Because technology has finally evolved in the video-game industry to bring these treasure comic-book characters to glorious life in a game setting. Long gone are the days of platforms and sprites, and we have entered the age when the boss battles are big and grand and play out in glorious three dimensions.

While licensed film IP translating into games has been hit and miss, what is more remarkable is that the melding of comic books to film and video games is getting serious attention. Sony Pictures and Marvel scored huge with Spider-man. Sure, Daredevil and Electra didn’t do as well in their big-screen iterations (too complex of characters, perhaps?) but the Fantastic Four was a fun ride, even though you had to keep your eyes on multiple targets.

But when it comes to the lone hero, battling inner demons, confronted with huge adversaries, nothing beats the depth that Marvel brought in its universe. Stan Lee created characters with depth that had real-world problems. Until recently, when cartoons and television shows (and video games, to some extent) tried to capitalize on those heroes, the treatment was often superficial and light. That’s not to say you can’t have fun with the license, but it is the brooding and the darkness that explodes into epic battles full of flash and fire that truly excites people. Yes, we want to see the hero win, but we also want a sense of that hero’s humanity.

For those who don’t know the characters, let’s break down Tony Stark and Bruce Banner …

Tony Stark:

Stark made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 in March of 1963. After being injured (events depicted in the upcoming film starring Robert Downey Jr.) he is held and is being forced to create a devastating weapon for his captors. Instead, he creates a powerful suit of armor to escape with. That armor is refined, hiding the frailty of the man inside with the servos, gyros, thrusters and enhancements that make Iron Man an incredibly powerful hero. But Stark was flawed and has his moments when his wealth and intellect can’t give him comfort. His sense of worth comes through when it dons the suit and fights crime.

Bruce Banner:

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby released the first issue of The Incredible Hulk in May 1962. It told the tale of Dr. Bruce Banner’s transformation when exposed to a lethal amount of gamma radiation. Instead of dying, Banner found that his anger triggered a metamorphosis in which he grew to a rather large and very muscular size. Unfortunately, though, what Banner gains in physical presence, he loses in intellect and the Hulk – while a feeling creature – is more a brutish beast than a man.

Both characters have appeared is numerous comic books and even been in television series. The Hulk was the subject of a 2003 Ang Lee film starring Eric Bana. For the 2008 motion pictures, Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton take on the roles of Stark and Banner and also voice the characters in the video games as well. For Iron Man, actors Terence Howard and Shaun Toub (both appearing in the movie) lend their voices to the SEGA game; Incredible Hulk (2008) actors Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson and William Hurt all voice their characters in the SEGA title.

Comic books have long been the stuff of high fantasy. They introduced us to characters we embraced and lived vicariously through with each issue released. Once again, though enthralled, we sat and watched the exploits on television screens or bigger screens, but while we watched we never could live those lives except in our imaginations … until recently when technology advance to create the capabilities to carry that fantasy, in semi-believable ways, to video games. It is a wonderful marriage of the mediums.

Gw
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