Marvel Ultimate Alliance deserved a proper ending

Ultimate Marvel Alliance, a game series that debuted nearly 16 years ago, was groundbreaking both for Marvel video games and for the superhero gaming genre as a whole. With a first installment that included over 140 characters and a sequel that uniquely advances the story of the first game, UAM not only manages to explore nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe, but also ties it together into a cohesive narrative that players can also engage with.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, on the other hand, while improving the visual aspects of the franchise, refuses to acknowledge the narrative set in place by its predecessors. It acts as a reboot, choosing to overlook events such as Dr. Doom’s attempt to become a god and the whole superhuman recording conflict, thus preventing the series from coming to a proper conclusion.

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How Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Sets Up A Greater Conclusion

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance works to bring together all aspects of the Marvel Universe in a way that has never been done before. Nick Fury is forced to call upon Earth’s heroes to confront Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil as they pursue Odin’s godlike powers. It is throughout this journey that the player discovers countless characters straight out of the pages of Marvel Comics. Although the game’s main plot is quite conclusive, there are very obvious attempts in the game’s side stories to tease a larger storyline. These possible scenarios include the return of Mephisto, a vengeful Galactus, and most importantly, the impending doom of Thanos and his conquest of Earth.

Thanos, the leader of the Black Order, arrives at MUA3, but not in a way that most fans of the first game would have hoped. His arrival comes at the cost of being completely unrelated to any of the franchise’s prior events, though the series has obviously worked to make sense of his arrival in correlation to the events of the first game. Whether MUA3 had chosen to use Thanos while still allowing the game to be canon for both the first and second installments, newcomers and day one fans alike could have indulged in a look that was both pleasing in itself and consistent with what was before.

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How Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 digs deeper into the story

While the first UAM game works to unite the Marvel Universe, the second game works to divide it. In a plot inspired by that of Mark Millar Civil war storyline, the superhuman community is split in two when the recklessness of a few young heroes leads to a devastating public disaster. It doesn’t take long before the government enacts a superhuman registration law that forces heroes to unmask themselves to the public in order to stay active. Throughout the game, the player is faced with a choice between the pro-registration Iron Man and the anti-registration Captain America and must fight to end the conflict on whichever side they choose.

From the starting mission that takes the heroes back to Dr. Doom’s home in Latveria, to the characters explicitly discussing the events of the first game, MUA2 lives up to its sequel status by acknowledging what has come before and effectively building on it. He chooses to stray somewhat from the universe as he explores the first game, and instead delves deeply into where the heroes stand with each other. While this conflict eventually comes to a peaceful conclusion, it wouldn’t be surprising to expect that time won’t heal all of the wounds between the heroes. A third episode that acknowledged that the feuds between the characters were put aside in order to come together for a greater cause would have added an interesting dynamic to the story that fans would likely have appreciated.

Whereas MUA3 managed to breathe some life into the franchise by diversifying its hero roster and revamping the visuals, it does very little to differentiate itself from most superhero beat-em-up games otherwise. Past the combos and special attacks, the UAM The series was story driven, giving video game and comic book fans a new way to enjoy beloved characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine. It’s impossible to know for sure how fans would have enjoyed a cohesive conclusion to the trilogy, but it’s fair to say that the first two installments put a lot of effort into making sure that ending was possible.

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