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.