Review: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers Videogame

Review: This fun LEGO Marvel’s Avengers videogame sees a multitude of great female characters hit the screen, putting the movies to shame.

A sequel of sorts to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, this latest LEGO videogame takes it’s inspiration mostly from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with particular focus on the two Avengers movies.

It begins with a LEGO recreation of the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the game pretty much had me at hello with the fact that my first playable character was Black Widow the female Avenger often missing from licensed merchandise.

You eventually tag team through all the core Avengers until you successfully complete this stage and unlock the free play mode – but you unlock new characters as you progress through the main story.

It has a large open world, that includes New York, Asgard, the Helicarrier, plus Malibu, South Africa, and even Hawkeye’s farm! Once you delve into the game, the shear number of characters is terrific (around 200, 100 of whom new to the series), and despite ostensibly being based on the Marvel movies, you get to play as whole range of female characters yet (if ever) to make it to the big screen.

So as well as Black Widow, Maria Hill, and Scarlett Witch, there’s also the likes of Ms. Marvel (Kamla Khan), the Jane Foster version of Thor, Miss America, and even Squirrel Girl!

The characters also include New Avengers Hulkling and Wiccan – possibly the first openly gay couple to feature in a LEGO product?

If you’ve played any of the previous LEGO video games, the style and gameplay will be very familiar. The controls are relatively easy to get your head round, and the tone is a mixture of being faithful to the source material with doses of in-jokes and knockabout comedy.

Occasionally we’ve been a bit stuck, wondering exactly what the given objective of a scene/set piece is. And the save option isn’t as often as I would like (extended gaming sessions have become a thing of the past since becoming a parent). Plus, the link to the official MCU means the likes of Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four are missing from this game (unlike it’s predecessor). But these are niggles in what is a very fun game.

I was worried that their might be a bot of franchise fatigue setting in, a charge that could be be levelled at the Marvel cinematic universe. However, there is just something so irresistible about these LEGO games that I am enjoying this as one much as any of them.

Is this worth purchasing in addition or instead of the previous LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game? I’m not entirely convinced, but the extra open world playability and playable characters make this a fine LEGO superhero game in its own right.

This is clearly a very family friendly game, but the control system is still a little beyond my 4-year-old – despite her obvious love of what she is seeing onscreen.

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LEGO Marvel’s Avengers videois rated PEGI 7 and is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (RRP £49.99), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U (RRP £39.99) and PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS (RRP £29.99).


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Family Fever

Is Black Widow’s Hairstyle Sexist?

Captain America: Civil War features the first appearance of a much-anticipated icon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). No not Black Panther, but Black Widow’s new hairstyle.

Black Widow made her first MCU appearance in Iron Man 2 (2010), and that was followed by The Avengers (2012), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and now the Captain America: Civil War (2016). She has sported a different hairstyle in each movie.

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From L to R: Black Widow’s hairstyles in Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War. All images © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

I don’t recall any such attention to detail being paid to the locks of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, or even Thor.

This scenario of constantly updating the hairstyle of Scarlett Johansson’s female hero, reminds me of Star Trek: Voyager. The show aired between 1995-2001, and starred Kate Mulgrew (now more famed  for playing Red in Orange is the New Black) as Katherine Janeway – the first ever female captain lead in a Star Trek show.

Kate has frequently lamented that ‘the suits’ spent more time worrying about her hair than they did about her character development. She grew increasingly frustrated at the constant messing with it. For those not familiar with the show, this video sums up pretty well how it was.

Is messing with Black Widow’s hairstyle sexist?

Kate Mulgrew reflects that this is a scenario that a male actor is unlikely to face, but female actors constantly do – especially in films and tv shows that have a large male fanbase.

The tinkering of Black Widow’s hairstyle – compared with her fellow Avengers – appears to be further evidence of this. It implies that – as far as the creatives and ‘suits’ are concerned – appearance is more important factor for a female character than a male one. And by extension, a female actor has to be more concerned about her appearance than a male one does.

I also wonder, like Captain Janeway before her, if Marvel Studio execs spend as much time talking about Natasha’s character development as they do about her hair?

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that “Action is character.” Perhaps, for female characters, we need to amend that to “Hair is character.”

What do you think Black Widow’s changing hairstyles tell us about her?

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“How Come We Have More Cosplayers Than You Have Black Widow Merch?” #WeWantWidow

Yesterday, writer K. Reilly organised a massive global multi-city flash mob, where cosplayers dressed as Black Widow sent the message that she is a character we want to see more of. We want to see her star in her own movie, we want to see her on apparel, and she totally deserves her own action figures. Here are just some of the awesome images that were shared on social media.  

#wewantwidow

A post shared by Courtney Hoffman (@flukeoffate) on

So Marvel, Disney, Hasbro, and everyone involved in creating Marvel merch, please – #WeWantWidow!