For its game tie-in to the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger film, Sega has brought out the big guns story-wise, hiring comic book writer and screenwriter Christos Gage to write the plot powering Captain America: Super Soldier. GameSpot AU spoke to Gage--who has written for Marvel on such titles as Avengers: The Initiative, Civil War: House of M, War Machine: Weapon of Shield, and more--on how the game ties in to the film, what makes Captain America appealing, and what other characters from the Marvel universe we can expect to see in the upcoming title.
GameSpot AU: Tell us about the story you penned for Captain America: Super Soldier. How does it tie in to the movie?
Christos Gage: Well it's actually cool because we're not tied in to the movie. It's set in the movie universe, because that's the version of Captain America that most people will be familiar with, but there was no edict to retell the story of the movie, they just said to go ahead and make the best game you can make.
The premise of the game is that it's set in WWII, and Hydra has this mountain base where they're manufacturing weapons of mass destruction that can turn the tide of war. It's an old medieval castle that's been turned into a base and manufacturing centre, and Captain America has to infiltrate and put a stop to it. And, of course, there are all these cool bosses and villains that people will recognise from the comics. The Red Skull is in there, but then there's also Madame Hydra, Arnim Zola, and Baron Strucker.
GS AU: So was that a good thing, not being tied in to the film's narrative?
CG: Yeah, the making of movies is a very fluid thing. Whole scenes can get cut, it can be rethought because they can't get a particular location, or they can't get the budget, and that way you're consistently worrying about what changes the movie is making. Like I said, it's set in the movie universe, so people who see the movie and want to play the game will recognise Captain America. Plus, the other benefit is people who have seen the movie and then play the game won't feel like they're playing through something they've already seen.
GS AU: How closely does the game stick to comic book canon?
CG: Much in the same way that Batman: Arkham Asylum is not the comic book continuity or the movie continuity per se, it's sort of its own thing. For instance, in the comics, Madame Hydra was not a WWII-era villain. She came along in our time in the '60s after Cap awoke in the future. But we just liked the idea that there always is a Madame Hydra. It's a title and there's always been one, and hence there's one in our WWII version. So we've taken some liberties like that, but it's always in the interest of fun and not getting too bogged down in one particular continuity. We're just giving the player the best possible gaming experience. We don't want people to have to have a degree in Captain America to play the game, even though I happen to have one. It was my major in college [laughs]. The idea is, the casual fan can go in and just play the game, but a longtime comic fan like myself who's been reading the comics for 30 years will find some funny strands and think this is true to the comics.
GS AU: So you've told us about the rogues' gallery. What about other Marvel heroes? Will we see any cameos in the game?
CG: Aside from Bucky, there are no other Marvel heroes. In the WWII era, the heroes that people associate with Captain America are the Invaders, but they're like Human Torch and Sub-Mariner. And Human Torch is in movie-land as part of the Fantastic Four, so we couldn't have used him anyway. Sub-Mariner is his own franchise. Really, there weren't a lot of options to throw in other heroes simply because of the time frame it was set in. But there is going to be Bucky, and I think they've revealed there will be an incarnation of the Howling Commandos in there.
GS AU: So does that mean Nick Fury maybe?
CG: So as we've seen in the present movies, Nick Fury is Samuel Jackson in the present day, so…
GS AU: Was it more challenging or interesting for you to write a Captain America set in the past?
CG: I enjoyed it for a variety of reasons. One, it's because that's when the movie is set, and also because that's when you associate the genesis of the character of Captain America, being in WWII. For the first real big Captain America game--and now, obviously, you had the Captain America and the Avengers arcade game in the '90s, which I played--but for the first big modern game, I thought it should be set in WWII, and the fun thing would be to have future games based on the present day.
So it wasn't so much a challenge, as it's actually very interesting because in the comics I've written Captain America in the present day. He's this grizzled veteran who's seen it all and done it all. This Captain America I was writing [for the game] is a much younger guy who's still discovering the full extent of his abilities. So it was really interesting to write the same character at a younger age.
GS AU: This is the first time you've written for a game, right?
CG: That's right. I had previously written a comic book adaptation of the game Dante's Inferno.
GS AU: So what's it like? How does it compare to something comics, or film and TV?
CG: You know, it's interesting because games are halfway between comics and screenwriting. On the one hand, comics have the ultimate freedom, because you don't have to worry about budget--anything that can be drawn, you can do. Every screen writer who writes comic books say they can literally do anything, and that's why it's so much fun. On the flip side, the great thing about movies and TV, even though you have a budget to deal with, is that you do get the benefit of live actors who can bring things to life. Games are in the middle because you have voice actors--and they do have some amazing actors--and while there's some constraints with how many characters you can animate and locations and things like that, there aren't as many as in movies and TV. So it's just a matter of how many different things you can do. So, yes, you can blow up an entire skyscraper in a game, whereas you may not be able to do that in a movie.
GS AU: Let's talk about the character of Captain America. If you're not American, it would be easy to assume that the concept of a character named Captain America would be foreign, even a bit laughable. But the idea works--the character resonates. Why is that?
CG: What resonates about Captain America is, and this was established long ago, that the character is not tied in to any particular administration or government--he stands for the American dream. And the American dream is something that people all around the world believe in. They may not call it the American dream, but they believe in the ideals of it--freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You see it going on in the Middle East right now, with people calling for democracy. So the ideals behind Captain America transcend the nationalistic aspect of it. So people look at Captain America not as a symbol of a country or a political administration, but rather a set of ideals that are universal.
GS AU: Christos Gage, thanks for your time.
Captain America: Super Soldier will be released on the Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, DS, and Wii in mid-July 2011.