Disney acquired a majority of Fox’s assets in a massive deal announced today. While plenty of fun theories have been floating around about what this could mean for entertainment, one possibility rises above the others for fighting game fans: X-Men characters coming to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
X-Men are a huge reason the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise has been so special. The complete lack of any of the X-Men characters in the current installment has left a cloud over the game. This is the first time the series hasn’t really felt like itself.
Part of the reason the X-Men have felt so integral to the Marvel vs. Capcom series is because characters like Wolverine, Magneto, Phoenix and Sentinel have been some of the franchise’s most popular and most competitive. Their absence, especially after appearing in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, stands out.
X-Men vs. Street Fighter was a strange idea at the time that instantly made sense once people started playing. It was a combination that feels like it was destined in retrospect. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is missing some magic due to the lack of X-Men, and it’s exciting to think there is now at least a slim chance some of that magic could return.
The game’s heavy injection of characters from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe may have seemed like an understandable substitution at first, but it just doesn’t carry the same weight as the X-Men. The reliance on the MCU — and the complete omission of any X-Men related characters — brings up a handful of issues.
I made it clear in my joint review of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite that the game suffers from serious design problems. There’s a mismatch in aesthetics from both universes. Infinite never seems to develop a sense of style that allows it to match the visual elements from Capcom’s other games and the serious, muted tones of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The oversized nature of the X-Men were always a better fit for Capcom’s cartoonish characters and strange worlds.
The third installment in the series did a marvelous job in taking visual cues from the world of comics and video games. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 felt like a game that benefited from years of experience backed up by logical design choices. Infinite, on the other hand, seems to struggle with its own identity and it makes me wonder how much of that comes from it missing a large part of its own history: the X-Men.
So much of what made the Marvel vs. Capcom series feel iconic for two decades was the powerful imagery of Capcom’s world warriors squaring off against Marvel’s mutants. The beauty of the series was found in the parallels that existed between both worlds and what happens when you put them side by side.
The lack of any X-Men characters in Infinite has been a running conversation since the game’s release in September. My interest wanes with each new DLC announcement that comes and goes without any X-Men. The community seems to feel the same way.
The Disney and Fox deal today was about consolidating characters and worlds, about one company buying as much of our past as possible from the other. And this combination of characters is a big part of the past if you’re a fan of fighting games. Now that the X-Men are back in the same house as the rest of the Marvel family, both in games and in cinema, let’s hope it won’t be long before they make an appearance in Infinite.