Chicago-based developer NetherRealm Studios is known primarily for Mortal Kombat, the legendary series that inspired its name. But in 2008 and more intensely in 2013, the team also became known as a DC fighting game studio with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Injustice. And now the studio’s comic book roots may be expanding as rumors swirl of an upcoming NetherRealm Marvel fighting game.
According to leaker Daniel Richtman via Stealth Optional, NetherRealm is developing the Marvel-focused fighting game. There’s nothing about what storyline it would be influenced by or when it might come out. The only detail in this rumor is that a NetherRealm-developed Marvel fighting game is in the works.
Subtle hints and a mysterious future
— Ben Hanson (@yozetty) April 27, 2021
However, there has been more tertiary information that points to this happening as well as some evidence that possibly says the opposite. MinnMax’s Ben Hanson recently posted a clip of a video interview he did with Ed Boon during a Game Informer cover story trip for Mortal Kombat 11 back in 2019. In it, he asks Boon if Marvel has ever approached him to do a fighting game.
“Yes!” he said as his eyes widened. “Yes, I did, but I probably shouldn’t talk about it.”
When asked if he was excited about that idea, Boon followed up with, “Oh god, yes. We would love to make like a Marvel fighting game or a Marvel vs. DC [fighting game].”
Boon is also a key player in the other factors that possibly point to a NetherRealm fighting game. He said in an interview with Geoff Keighley (about 35 minutes in) around the Aftermath expansion’s May 2020 release that the team had “other stuff in the oven” in addition to Mortal Kombat and Injustice.
— Lord Murdoink (@Murdoink) April 27, 2021
And while it seems innocuous, Boon has been known to troll and give away hints on Twitter, making his tweets subject to a careful inspection. Boon has been known to tweet about comics from both DC and Marvel, but players have noticed that he’s been tweeting about Marvel quite frequently. This includes just six Marvel tweets in April 2021 alone. He also changed his Twitter bio to say “We make games with Ninjas and SuperHeroes” in the latter half of 2018, something those same diehards also took note of as “SuperHeroes” isn’t specific to DC.
Marvel has also been quick to license out its comic book heroes to different developers. Insomniac’s two Spider-Man games have been the biggest ones, but Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers title and Camoflaj’s Iron Man VR are also efforts from this initiative.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite had a rough go yet the series has shown that there is a thirst for a Marvel fighting game out there. Like how Insomniac is known for its fluid action and how Crystal Dynamics is known for its third-person action games, NetherRealm has only done fighting games. This history makes the developer a worthy candidate to take up that project and it would further diversify Marvel’s game portfolio, which seems to be important, given how unique each of the three aforementioned games are.
This could also explain the mystery surrounding NetherRealm’s next project as well the studio’s departure from its two-year cycle. It has released a new game in the April or May of every odd-numbered year since 2011, bouncing back and forth between Mortal Kombat and Injustice. But it’s been two years since Mortal Kombat 11 and NetherRealm’s next game has not even been announced yet. It’s not even clear if Mortal Kombat 11 will be getting more support or DLC either as the studio’s silence about its future is all-encompassing.
Snapping away the rumors
However, there is one big aspect that makes this rumor seem more more dead than Tony Stark after Avengers: Endgame. Warner Bros. owns both NetherRealm and DC Comics. It’s a little hard to imagine the company that owns DC allowing one of its internal studios to make a game for its biggest rival in the comics space, especially instead of Injustice 3. But there are also now Sony-developed games on Xbox and PC and Microsoft-published games on the Switch so company rivalries in video games aren’t what they once were.