By following the example set by other successful superhero games, Warner Bros. could give the Man of Steel the modern AAA title he deserves.
Over the years there have been several attempts to make a Superman game, with most of these being failures. From the rightfully maligned Superman 64 to the lackluster movie tie-in Superman Returns, the Man of Steel hasn’t been as lucky in the gaming medium as his fellow superheroes. However, with the huge successes of his fellow Justice Leaguer Batman in Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series, as well as numerous other characters, many have claimed that it is Superman himself who is the biggest roadblock to receiving a good game.
Due to Superman’s poor track record in the medium, a common opinion has formed that the character is too powerful to work in a gaming setting. There have been scarcely few titles to disprove this theory, with the character instead making most of his recent game appearances as “Evil Superman” in Injustice and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The idea of Superman being overpowered works for making him a challenging adversary and allows players to experience his powerset without the morals that would also traditionally accompany the character, but this doesn’t fulfill the desire to become the beacon of hope that the hero should be.
Superman Is The Ultimate Power Fantasy, Which Is Perfect For Gaming
Most action games are all about power fantasies, and since his creation, Superman has been the embodiment of the ultimate power fantasy. Despite this, Superman hasn’t been invincible in his own comics for decades now, with many threats to him such as the commonly known weakness to Kryptonite, as well as magic, removing the Kryptonian’s access to the Yellow Sun’s rays. Superman and the Justice League’s greatest villains have harnessed and utilized all of these weaknesses in the past, so if a game’s story incorporated this organically, it would make Superman not quite invincible, while still immensely powerful.
There’s nothing about Superman that’s prohibitive to a good game, and the key to a good superhero title seems to be telling a story that honors the character while getting their world right and offering plenty of ways to explore it. Some fans have already attempted to convey Superman’s adaptability to games by showing the hero flying through a procedurally generated city at varying speeds, and showcasing various powers such as super strength to fully interact with vehicles and threats in an open world. One developer even used The Matrix Awakens‘ free CitySample assets on Unreal Engine 5 to imagine how Superman could be translated into the world of modern AAA gaming.
A Superman game could also take the same approach as the Batman: Arkham titles, which not only took from decades of comic lore but also elements from the highly acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series. Superman was also adapted in this universe with the John Byrne-inspired Superman: The Animated Series, and much like with Batman, elements from this series are still used as a template for the character to this day. A developer could translate the series’ distinct art style and tone when building Metropolis to set it apart from other open-world cities, much like Rocksteady did with Gotham.
James Gunn’s New DC Universe Could Easily Use A Superman Game
James Gunn teased future DC games would be a part of his and Peter Safran’s new DC Universe, and later announced that the studio would be making a young Superman movie. With this new take on Superman and the inclusion of games in DC’s cinematic universe, there is plenty of opportunity for a new Superman game that could help build up Clark Kent’s control of his powers prior to the story of Gunn’s movie, which he has revealed will not focus on covering the Man of Steel’s origin.
By following Clark’s development of his powers in a game, players would be able to explore Superman’s history over a longer period of time with new powers becoming revealed with new acts or levels. The criticism of Superman being too powerful for games could also be avoided with this approach, with players growing stronger and harnessing more control as the game progresses.
While the future of Superman in gaming is not confirmed, Rocksteady will introduce its take on the iconic hero in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. With it being unlikely that the game will go through with its namesake and actually kill the Arkhamverse’s Justice League so soon after introducing them, many are also wondering if this could lead to a spin-off title. If so, it would be nice to see the stigma surrounding Superman games finally lifted by taking from elements that worked in other media to finally give the original superhero the modern title he deserves.
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