Halloween rapidly approaches, and while the students of “Marvel Avengers Academy” prepare their costumes and plan their parties, the demon Mephisto assembles his minions for a celebration of his own.
Mephisto will soon cross over from his hellscape to the Academy’s plane of existence, hungry for new souls and servants. With the villain flanked by Dracula, Satana, and an army of Fire Demons, the Avengers have their work cut out for them if they hope to put an end to his invasion.
We sat down with Allen Warner, Lead Narrative Designer at TinyCo, to get the low-down on Mephisto and his motivations, along with what Halloween celebrations we’ll see at the Academy.
Marvel.com: What brings Mephisto to our plane?
Allen Warner: We learned at the end of the Daredevil event that Kingpin had struck a deal with Mephisto to help him enter our dimension, and was working with the Hand to use their occult magic to open a dimensional rift. Of course, with those three factions, there was and will continue to be plenty of double and triple-crossing, as each one tries to use the others to get what they want. The Avengers Academy students and the heroes of Hell’s Kitchen managed to stop Kingpin and the Hand before they could open the portal, but the Hand still weakened the area enough for Mephisto to finish the job as the Halloween season further blurred the boundary between the physical and supernatural worlds.
Mephisto collects souls and thrives on fear and subservience, so he sees this new dimension and campus filled with superhuman and supernatural heroes as an untouched realm for him to conquer that will expand his kingdom and take his already incredible powers to the next level. Part of the evil joy he gets out of collecting souls is forcing people to give them up voluntarily, so he uses his charms, his minions, and his talents for emotional manipulation to trick and torment the students rather than immediately launching a full-scale assault. He wants to humiliate his adversaries as much as he wants to collect their souls, and we’ll learn over the course of the event that he’s really after one person in particular. Only one soul has ever challenged him in his own dimension and escape unscathed, and he can’t rest until he gets his revenge.
Marvel.com: While Mephisto is the big-bad here, what other threats does he bring with him?
Allen Warner: He’s working with a couple of other shady, self-interested characters who are perfect for Halloween in Dracula and Satana. Dracula actually has sort of “good” intentions, trying to turn the Avengers Academy students into vampires as a means of rebuilding his vampire nation, which has fallen on hard times and is nearly extinct. The demoness Satana simply wants to feed on souls. She’s always hungry for more, and Avengers Academy seems like the perfect place to sink her teeth into. We see very quickly that she doesn’t like to take orders from anyone, and she doesn’t share Mephisto’s love for drawn out mind games, so there’s a lot of friction there that will eventually result in her setting her eyes on a much bigger prize. Along with these two powerful helpers, Mephisto is also bringing a legion of Fire Demons from his home dimension that come in all shapes and sizes, and will try to drag anyone they battle back to Hell.
Marvel.com: What new heroes will be brought into the fold in order to help dispatch their new supernatural foes?
Allen Warner: A really exciting lineup: Misty Knight, Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, and Blade. Each one brings something completely different to the table, and comes with awesome abilities and a great backstory. If players can defeat Dracula and Satana, they’ll also be able to recruit them to the Academy to help in the battle with Mephisto. There will also be one more surprise character who will be revealed further into the event. It’s someone I don’t think many players will be expecting, but a character who couldn’t be better suited for Halloween.
Marvel.com: Ghost Rider comes to the game hot on the heels of his TV debut in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” while Misty Knight just made her live-action debut in “Marvel’s Luke Cage” today on Netflix. What actions and abilities do these heroes bring to the Academy and the fight against Mephisto?
Allen Warner: Yeah, the timing is amazing. To be honest, we planned this out so long ago that we had no idea either one of these characters would be debuting in different TV shows at the same time the event is launching, but we obviously couldn’t be [happier]. It’s always great when we can support Marvel characters in different media and vice versa, and both of these characters are so awesome that I’m glad to see them getting introduced to a new audience.
Ghost Rider is someone we connected to a potential Halloween event way back at the beginning of development. Like [“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”], we’re also using the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider to include even more diversity in the game, and support the more modern approach to the character. It’s great because he’s one of those characters like Ms. Marvel or Miles Morales that already have this youthful approach and energy, and they can walk right off of the comic page into our game without some extensive reimagining that we do for other characters. We love that aspect of our game, but it’s also cool and exciting when a traditionally young character enters the game and interacts with characters like Black Widow and Captain America who aren’t usually in their age range. Ghost Rider will use all of his awesome abilities from wrapping bad guys in his flaming chains to hopping inside of his fiery car to take off and do donuts.
Misty Knight might seem like a strange fit for Halloween at first because she doesn’t have the obvious supernatural connection the rest of these characters do, but she might play the most critical role in the whole event. I always like to connect all of our events together narratively, and there were a few mentions in the Daredevil event of Misty investigating exactly what Kingpin and the Hand were planning. We focus on her great detective skills, and I like the idea of a “normal” character being in an event filled with supernatural characters because she can be the voice and viewpoint of the player, and comment on all of the weirdness like we would. She’ll have actions relating to her awesome skills and abilities from martial arts, detective work, and using her bionic arm to not only punch, but to use its cryogenic blast for an amazing animation.
Marvel.com: Blade and Moon Knight round out the additions; what new, unique actions will players see these two tackling?
Allen Warner: Blade is the ultimate vampire hunter and the Daywalker, having all of the vampire strengths without any of their weaknesses. We had some fun with those ideas in his actions and animations, along with playing to his traditionally stoic persona. He’s a no-nonsense guy in a campus filled with nonsense, so it’s fun to see how he bounces off of the other students. He was another character we mentioned from the very beginning as being part of a potential Halloween event, so it’s great to see him finally entering the game, and embodying everything that makes him so cool in the comics and movies.
Moon Knight is such a unique character that you can approach in so many different ways. We wanted to address him being embodied by an Egyptian god. The split personalities. The fact that he’s literally come back from the dead. Not to mention that he has a huge collection of awesome moon-themed gadgets and vehicles. He has some really fun animations, some awesome combat animations, and some great decorations related to his backstory and tools of the trade.
Marvel.com: The Academy students will be fending off Mephisto and his subordinates, but what other activities will players be able to participate in during this event?
Allen Warner: There are a lot of fun new things to do in this event. The main event building is Haunted Avengers Mansion. It’s the iconic Avengers HQ decked out in creepy, authentic Halloween decorations for Wasp’s big Halloween party. We’re also adding a Halloween themed park, and a bunch of characters will use both places for brand-new actions and animations. You’ll also be able to send characters through Mephisto’s portals for some extra-dimensional trick-or-treating, bringing back materials to defeat him and his minions. Last but not least, we’re introducing a feature that lets players pair up characters, using a bunch of fun dual actions and animations. Completing these actions gives you access to outfits and other prizes that you can’t get anywhere else. The students have to strengthen their relationships with each other to combat Mephisto’s manipulative powers, culminating in an iconic multi-character animation that I think people are going to love.
Marvel.com: This new threat arises during a Halloween party, so our heroes must be rocking costumes. What will players see their favorite characters dressing up as?
Allen Warner: This is one of the most exciting parts of the entire event. We’re adding new Halloween costumes for every main story character in the game to this point, from Iron Man to Hulk. We usually only give new event outfits to the earliest characters since some people may have just started playing the game, but Halloween seemed like too good of an opportunity to not give everyone at least one outfit. If you just started, and it will still be awhile before you reach characters like Ant-Man or Maria Hill, you can still acquire the outfits, and the outfit and related quests will unlock as soon as you’ve recruited that character. For our longtime players, it will be the first time we’ve offered alternate outfits for characters like Ms. Marvel, Enchantress, and Taskmaster. Since most of the new characters in this event are pretty serious people, we decided to go with the opposite approach for the costumes. Even if you’re a lifelong Marvel fan, I guarantee you’ve never seen a lot of these characters look anything close to what they’ll look like in some of these Halloween costumes.
It was a ton of fun brainstorming and creating the different looks, and we owe a big thanks to our fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit for suggesting and voting on outfits they wanted to see. The winner was Cap-Wolf, which looks great with some amazing animations, but we also used quite a few of the other suggestions we received: Loki dressed as Thor, Black Widow wearing a “This is my Halloween Costume” T-shirt in classic unimpressed Black Widow fashion, and more. My personal favorite is Falcon dressed like a Penguin. I don’t want to spoil everything just yet, but I really feel like people are going to get so many smiles and laughs from the awesome designs and animations created by our always amazing art and animation teams, and the great ideas suggested by our creative and passionate fans.
Marvel.com: How will the event district play into Mephisto’s siege?
Allen Warner: The event district is Mephisto’s hellscape. It’s a massive area of fire and brimstone where Mephisto watches everything from his throne. This is where the recruitable heroes will be trapped in Mephisto’s magic, along with the portals used for extra-dimensional trick-or-treating. There’s a large open area in front of Mephisto’s throne because when it’s time to finally battle the big boss, the students will have to bond together, and perform an iconic Halloween activity to infuriate the demon, and distract him with synchronized hilarity before taking him down for good.
Hopefully, they’ll be able to defeat him and close the dimensional rift once and for all, but if not, they may have to seek out the assistance of a certain sorcerer who’s no stranger to dimensional travel…
Play “Marvel Avengers Academy” today and stay tuned for further updates and events!