In the early days of “Marvel Avengers Academy,” Tony Stark mentions his work on AI to professor Hank Pym. Words of encouragement from a mentor like Pym guided Tony to continue his work through the various threats that the Academy has faced. Now, he has finally finished his pet project: Ultron.
However, it seems this AI doesn’t rank listening to his creator high on his list of priorities, and the students soon find themselves facing down an army of robot minions. While Tony and the other scientists try to beat Ultron at his own game, a few new heroes will drop in to lend a hand against the rising tide of robot enemies.
Marvel.com: How does Ultron come alive at Avengers Academy? What prompts him to lead this revolution against Iron Man and the rest of the students?
Allen Warner: I don’t want to reveal exactly how Ultron gains sentience, since that’s a big part of the story, but we know that Iron Man has been working on a project called “Ultron” since the Academy opened and Professor Pym has been inspiring him to push the limits of his technology, creativity, and better judgment, so it’s safe to say that they both play a role to some degree. I wanted to include most of the main players from Ultron’s history in both the comics and film, but put a twist on how they’re involved in his origin and ambitions, so Iron Man, Hank Pym, Jocasta, Wasp, Vision, Wonder Man, and others will play big roles, but not in a way we’ve seen before.
One thing we know for sure is that Iron Man built a legion of helper robots to help his classmates train, and make the Academy more efficient. The combat training alone has resulted in these robots being destroyed countless times in every way imaginable. The heroes only see them as advanced training dummies who are there to help them perfect their powers, but Ultron demands revenge for their perceived mistreatment, and starts a robot revolution. Of course, his true motivations might not be as righteous as they seem…
Marvel.com: Will anyone be dropping in to assist in taking down this new technological terror?
Allen Warner: This is one of our most exciting event lineups to date. Players will have the chance to recruit Jocasta, Viv Vision, Kate Bishop, Hawkeye, and a certain pizza-loving dog named Lucky. If they’re able to defeat Ultron, they’ll also be able to reprogram him for heroism, and recruit him to their Academy.
Hawkeye is our most requested character, and has been appearing in cameos going all the way back to the original teaser trailer. He brings a great blue-collar, down-to-earth vibe to the school, along with an assortment of awesome abilities and arrows. He’s already interacted with people at the school, so unlike most new recruits he sort of knows his way around, and understands what everyone is about. It’s fun to watch him try to adapt to the school’s structure after being on his own for so long, and to learn more about his previously unrevealed history with people like Nick Fury and Black Widow. He’s voiced by Gus Sorola of Rooster Teeth, who did an awesome job bringing even more fun and personality to his character. Hawkeye will be available as an early access character during this event, so players will have the chance to get him now, but if they don’t, he’ll be appearing later as part of the main game.
The new Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, also arrives to help her partner in crimefighting. The two of them have a really fun dynamic, and her story is filled with nods to her time with the Young Avengers, and the amazing HAWKEYE comic run by Matt Fraction and David Aja. Fans of that series, which I’m pretty sure is everyone who has ever read that series, will find a lot to like throughout this entire event from story Easter eggs to decorations to the main event building being a representation of Hawkeye’s apartment from those books.
Of course, the secret star of that series was Lucky. Hawkeye’s lovable dog has a big heart, a nose for investigation, and an appetite for pizza. He’ll be a recruitable hero in the event with a full storyline, visual levels, unique animations, voiceover—barkover?—and everything else you’d expect from a recruitable hero. This game has featured a lot of animals over the past year, but Lucky is the first to be fully playable, so he presented some challenges, but he was so worth it. You can’t help but smile every time you see him, and I think players are going to love him.
Viv is really exciting for me because most of the characters in the game have decades of published history, and the challenge is always how to reimagine them for the world of “Avengers Academy,” but Viv is so new that it was more about exploring her personality and place in the world, and watching her react to new situations, and grow into something she hasn’t had a chance to be in the comics. She made her debut in the incredible VISION comic series by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and is a current member of Marvel’s young Super Hero team, the Champions. We get to see her interact with characters like Nebula and M.O.D.O.K. for the first time, and meet our version of heroes she’s familiar with in the comics like Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales. She’s still Vision’s “daughter” in our world, making their relationship more awkward since they’re so close in age, but I think it brings out this strangely relatable and really heartwarming side of each of their personalities to watch them work through exactly what their relationship means. Her parental issues and technological prowess also lead her to form an immediate bond with Tony Stark that I never really intended when I set out, but they end up having this really cool, genuine, unexpected friendship. I think this is the first time she’s ever been featured in a video game, so it’s pretty awesome that we get to introduce her to another audience in “Marvel Avengers Academy.”
I’m happy we’re finally getting Jocasta into the game. She’s Ultron’s first robotic creation, but we see that their relationship is strained from the very beginning. Like the comics, she’s imbued with Wasp’s mind and personality, so I really leaned into that idea with this version of Jocasta since I love our version of Wasp so much, and she’s so important to “Avengers Academy.” Everyone is about to find out what happens when you merge Wasp’s fearless personality and endless energy with a robot with a computer brain, and invulnerable body. She turned out great, and when they interact with each other, and Wasp’s closest friends and enemies, it’s even better.
In a lot of ways, this event narrative is about how characters interact with their idols and authority figures, and no one embodies that more than Ultron. He acts like he hates humans, but he emulates them at every turn. He’s turning Tony’s robots against him, but in reality, he’s Tony’s biggest fan. He says he’s fighting for the mindless helper robots, but it’s obvious that he relates more to the faculty and superhumans, and desperately wants to prove that he’s on their level. He has all of Tony’s brilliance and sarcasm and bravado, but he also has his heart, and the further things move along, the clearer it becomes that with a couple of tweaks, Ultron could go from being one of the Avengers’ most terrifying foes to one of their most fun and valuable teammates.
We’re also going to be giving players a second chance to get Wonder Man, who first appeared during our Civil War event. He shares a long history with Ultron and Vision, so it made a lot of sense to include him in this event, and I’ve always liked writing him because his powers and personality are so over-the-top. He has a really interesting role in this narrative that hasn’t been done before. It puts a new spin on two different characters, and I don’t think anyone will see it coming.
Marvel.com: How will the event district and building shape up this time around?
Allen Warner: The event district is awesome. Ultron has created his own high-tech evil lair that mirrors the normal Avengers Academy campus. He sits on his throne in the center flanked by his henchmen, and surrounded by twisted versions of buildings like Stark Tower and the Blasting Range that use hero dummies in place of the usual helper robots. He’s attempting to shut down technology across the globe as a first step to making humans extinct, so his robot minions are busy working at his various buildings to get stronger, and hack into systems around the world.
The main event building is the polar opposite. It’s Hawkeye’s apartment building where he hangs out, shoots arrows at things, and throws rooftop barbecues. It’s this great dichotomy of high-tech vs. low-tech, and man vs. machine, and nothing showcases that more than watching Ultron’s robots work tirelessly while Lucky and Hawkeye take a well-deserved nap together in the living room.
Marvel.com: What will the students do to battle Ultron and eliminate the threat he poses?
Allen Warner: Your heroes will raid Ultron’s buildings to sabotage his operation, and shut down his tech. You’ll also train S.H.I.E.L.D. Recruits to battle invading helper robots while your heroes battle Ultron’s more powerful henchmen like RoboCap and Destroyer. RoboCap is a robotic Captain America that Ultron built to defeat the Avengers, and it turned out being one of the funniest things in the event as he interacts with everyone from Peggy Carter to Winter Soldier.
We learned during our previous A-Force event that someone had stolen Odin’s Destroyer armor, and we immediately see that Ultron was the perpetrator. He’s filled the massive enchanted armor with tech, imbued it with a surprising hero’s personality, and turned it into his personal enforcer. As far as I know, these two have never worked together, but I really liked the idea of using Destroyer as a bridge between the two events, and having Ultron interact with the world of the Asgardians.
Marvel.com: Who sports new digs tailored to tackle Ultron and his minions?
Allen Warner: I love the outfits for this event. Kate Bishop, Viv, Jocasta, Ultron, Black Widow, Falcon, Iron Man, and Captain America will all be getting a new look. We embraced an 80’s retro-futuristic vibe for the outfits Iron Man creates in an attempt to “out-tech” Ultron using tech that can’t be hacked. Kate Bishop, Viv, Jocasta, Black Widow, and Falcon all get outfits inspired by 80’s sci-fi with neon, visors, and Mohawks all over the place.
Captain America even embraces tech, using the energy shield he’s used in the comics from time to time. He has some really great, unique animations for this outfit, and will be fully suited up, wearing his mask. Ultron hacks Tony’s armor, so he dons his original Iron Man armor to fight back with explosive and hilarious results. We even get to see him face off with his own modern suit of armor in a really cool and fun animation.
Marvel.com: Fans will be excited to get their hands on Hawkeye finally, but some will always be curious about what is next. Can you give us a peek of what awaits the Avengers Academy students on the horizon?
Allen Warner: Get ready for Young Avengers, gigantic monsters, and the first appearance of one of Marvel’s most iconic villains.
Play “Marvel Avengers Academy” and battle Ultron today!