Marvel Studios has been wildly and consistently successful on the big screen for a number of reasons. One of the biggest, though, has been the studio’s emphasis on its characters. The MCU has given audiences a window through which they can not only view all of the franchise’s remarkable characters but also understand and connect with them. Avengers: Damage Control continues that tradition.
The creators at Marvel Studios and ILMxLAB have strengthened the bond between the audience and their favorite characters with a completely immersive virtual reality experience. It’s impossible not to feel connected to The Avengers when you’re fighting alongside them, of course, but Damage Control does not rely solely on its impressive technology. Instead, that technology is used as a tool on top of the fundamental principles of storytelling.
“You still try to build it the same way you would build a movie or tell any story,” executive producer Dave Bushore told us after we played through the experience at a recent press event. Bushore, who is also Vice President, Franchise Creative and Marketing at Marvel Studios, described having the same collaborative discussions that the team has when developing feature films and now Disney+ series.
“You’d be surprised at the debates we would have,” Bushore said when we asked about getting the timing of a repulsor blast just right. “Half a second longer! Half a second shorter! Because it’s a thing and it’s in your head already.” Those small details matter, but not quite as much as other elements that illustrate a big difference between the previous developer of Iron Man tech, Tony Stark, and the MCU’s top tech genius moving forward, Shuri (Letitia Wright).
Shuri has combined Wakandan and Stark Industries technology to create Emergency Response Suits. The influence of Stark tech is immediately apparent, but these are more conservative designs in terms of the suits’ capabilities.
“That was part of the development process,” according to Bushore. “Why do these suits exist? Wakanda is not about arming the world. It’s about protecting the world. It’s about empowering people through technology. What if there were people who had these suits and were trained to respond to emergency situations, whatever it may be? It just happens to be a global Ultron attack in this instance, but it was very much about not making it a weapon. It can do things to protect people. You can protect yourself and protect your teammates.”
I pointed out that Shuri isn’t handing anyone EDITH, which Stark gave to Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
“Exactly,” Bushore responded. “It’s a different incarnation because Tony thinks differently and Shuri thinks differently. We took that seriously when we were thinking about it and talking with the team that worked on Black Panther and went back and looked at all of the development they did on different things. It was very much a serious conversation in terms of taking into account everything that’s been done before.”
Shuri’s ERS also differs from Tony’s previous Iron Legion in that humans (you) will actually pilot the suits, which still pack a punch. It’s a genuine thrill to shield yourself from Ultron attacks and then unleash a repulsor blast right back at him (or them if you count his many, many drones). The simplified power set actually helps keep the gameplay intuitive, so you’re not feeling as lost as Peter after he had Ned disable the Training Wheels Protocol in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Assembling with The Avengers is an amazing opportunity to live the dream of Marvel fans. What makes Avengers: Damage Control even more special, however, is being able to see and feel that the same level of thought and care that has made the MCU such an extraordinary franchise has also gone into this VR experience.