Everybody knows that the Marvel universe is rapidly expanding at the movie house. There are two, three, sometimes four bonzo superhero blockbusters from the folks at the now Disney-owned comic company hitting the big screen every year. But the truth is, as much as these high-action whiz-bang, biff-bam pics are being marketed to kids everywhere, they’re not always suitable for kids, what with the swearing or the violence. And that means the real superheroes in our world, moms and dads, aren’t always eager to push their tykes and tots into the box office line.
That’s where LEGO games attempt to bridge the superhero-loving gap with kinder, gentler action of the interconnecting plastic block kind. LEGO Marvel Avengers does exactly that by weaving together the story action of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron movies, as well as a few key moments from other Marvel film fare such as Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
If you’re thinking, “Phew, that’s a lot of super ground to cover,” you’re right. But the gamemakers somehow pull it off with plasticky aplomb. The action zips around from New York City to Tony Stark’s Malibu beach house to a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to Thor’s home world of Asgard and more. And there’s a large (huge!) cast of characters to unlock and play as, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Agents Hill and Coulson, to name but a few. Of course, parents need to know that when a game like this presents kids with a cast of hundreds (some by way of downloads), not all of them are going to be great role models, as “innocent” in their comic book versions as they appear to be here. (I’m looking at you, Daredevil, Blazing Skull, Hulkling and Wiccan!)
That said, I have to admit I, uh, marveled at times how well this game made the Avengers’ storyline, characters and dialogue (lifted, in some cases, directly from the films) fit perfectly into this build-a-brick, puzzle-solving format. In fact, the story here is actually a bit more understandable than even the movies in some spots.
If you’ve played one of the many, many LEGO games in the past, the action and activity will feel very familiar. There’s plenty of clear-that-obstacle and bridge-that-gap puzzle solving as gamers play together in multiplayer mode, or tap in or out of specific characters. Each superguy or supergal has a defined set of skills suitable to reach, break down and build up LEGO block solutions.
There’s also a whole lot of beat-up-the-baddies action here, too, of course, and a few new trigger-pulling minigames. Repulsors beam and lasers zap and blast as Avengers team up for a series of buddy-combo moves that culminate in special attacks. Truthfully, there’s a whole lot more mass destruction on display in this game than in, say, a Batman or Indiana Jones LEGO game of yesteryear. But at least the beaten-baddies-break-into-blocks formula stays the same.
There’s also the (usually) helping hand of LEGO’s patented game humor. Let’s face it, the Avengers movies have more than enough gun-blazing or dark and perilous moments that could make a kiddie cringe. The plastic versions of those scenes are lightened with not just their “artificial” nature, but also added quips and knockabout sight gags that seem to help smooth out the jagged edges in some nutty or silly way. And even when it’s not scary, the gamemakers are always up for packing in a few more Hulk-taking-a-selfie chuckles whenever possible.
On that humor front, though, I should say that there are a few lowbrow giggles—such as Tony Stark losing part of his armor and revealing his heart-covered boxers, or Thor’s hammer landing in a pile of plastic-block sheep doo-doo.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.