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07-29-2016

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

It may seem impossible now, but in the mid-2000s (double-ohs? aughts?) superheroes weren't everywhere. They were on their way, though. X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002) were box office hits as the world collectively thought "Hey, these movies are fun as hell!" Still, your mother probably didn't know what The Suicide Squad was back then.

In 2016, there will be six major superhero flicks. Six! And they're all buzzworthy events. Now, your mother probably does know what The Suicide Squad is, and she might even be able to rattle off the cast. She certainly knows that Jared Leto's being an unrepentant asshole. Comic books are ingratiated into our culture like that now. They're impossible to escape. It has been like that for a while.

Just before that but not much before that, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance released in 2006 on old and new-gen consoles. For a lot of people, it was novel in the way that it took so many characters from the Marvel universe and just smashed them all together. Anyone who watched The Hulk in 2003 (I'm sorry) knew that we'd one day get an Avengers movie. This was kind of like a precursor to that in video game form except you could play as Ghost Rider or Doctor Strange or The Thing too. (And, funny enough, you couldn't actually assemble The Avengers unless you bought The Hulk as DLC.)

Activision was ahead of the trend with this one. In a lot of ways, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance captured the impending superhero craze in about the most mammoth way it could. Lines blurred as everyone fought alongside everyone else. Captain America wasn't restricted to sticking to Captain America-centric arcs because those are his stories. He was doing stuff with Thor and Deadpool now. We didn't necessarily know it at the time, but that sort of freedom is what a lot of people wanted to see.

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