Since the company's founding more than eight decades ago, Marvel Comics has consistently produced unique and famous characters. The publishing company responsible for such beloved characters as Spider-Man, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four has become a household name thanks in large part to a series of blockbuster films set in a vast, interconnected universe. Thanks to the MCU, several Marvel characters are now household names. As the entertainment giant incorporates Marvel's heroes into its other renowned assets like Disney animation, Pixar, and Star Wars, the 2009 acquisition by Disney further increased its appeal and scope.
Marvel has lent its name to video games for a considerably longer period of time, with a rich history of beloved titles dating back to before Robert Downey Jr. became universally recognised as Tony Stark. Almost every form of video game has featured Marvel characters, from beat 'em ups and fighters to puzzle games and pinball. From classic arcade games to cutting-edge AAA releases, here are the top 20 Marvel video games.
Our comprehensive list of all 38 Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes is here for even more Marvel goodness. And if you want even more heroic mayhem, check out our list of the top 10 superhero flicks of all time.
video game featuring Captain America and the Avengers (1991)
The Avengers, led by Captain America
The Avengers first teamed up in one of Marvel's early beat 'em ups, before they were a household name. The original arcade game was converted to the Super NES and Genesis, where players took control of Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Vision as they fought a variety of villains including The Mandarin, Juggernaut, Ultron, and the supremacist Red Skull. Nice touches included cameos by Marvel characters like Wonder Man and Namor, who aren't as well-known as the others, paying tribute to the heroes they helped create.
The Spider-Man arcade video game (1991)
This Sega beat-em-up arcade game has Spider-Man as its main character, but it is much more of a family-friendly Spider-Man game than you may anticipate. The four-player arcade featured Wallcrawler, Black Cat, Sub-Mariner, and Hawkeye as playable characters. This added some variety to their movesets, as Spider-Man and Black Cat focused more on close-quarters strikes while Hawkeye and Sub-Mariner depended on long-range attacks. It also utilised Spider-web-slinging Man's skill by allowing him to swing above the battlefield to close a distance or escape a sticky situation.
X-Men arcade (1992)
Who hasn't lost a few cents (or dollars, or tens of dollars) to this classic arcade game? This massively popular arcade game from 1992 had a luxury cabinet that allowed players to control six characters simultaneously over two screens. The lineup comprised all of your favourite heroes, including Dazzler, each with their own unique power sets and screen-filling abilities. In an era before pre-rendered cutscenes, this large, gorgeous sprite artwork was the closest thing to cinematic there was.
The Punisher arcade (1993)
As one of Marvel's most gloomy antiheroes, “The Punisher” is infamous for dispensing severe justice to those he deems deserve it. That's why Sega decided to put him in an arcade cabinet fighting game in 1993. With a second player, you might take on the role of Nick Fury from the 1990s as you and Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, dealt justice to criminals of all stripes. Using firearms frequently, this game was extremely brutal, even by beat-em-up standards, staying true to its comic book roots.
Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994)
At the height of the '90s comics boom, readers couldn't get enough gloomy antiheroes, which led to the transformation of certain characters initially conceived as villains. This was the situation with Venom, a Spider-Man antagonist who essentially became a more dangerous version of Spidey himself. However, they still required a fighter, so the much darker figure Carnage was created. Just two years later, the plot was modified into a brawler in which you could choose between the agile Spider-Man and the brutish Venom to battle Carnage and other infamous villains such as Shriek and Demogoblin. In the mid-1990s, brawlers were a dime a dozen, but this one stood out due to its strong encounter design and relevant comic references.
Marvel vs Capcom (1996)
At the height of Capcom's dominance in fighting games, one of the greatest fighting series of all time was created by combining two very distinct franchises. Capcom blended the roster of comics royalty with its own well-known fighter characters, most notably those from the massively famous Street Fighter series. The result was a game with a faster speed, screen-filling visual effects, and a novel tag-team mechanic that offered an additional layer of strategy. Though the 1996 original made the most impact, the series is most remembered for the 2000 masterpiece MvC2. The larger roster and better gameplay of that game made it a regular in the fighting circuit, and some fighter enthusiasts still swear by it.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
It is easy to forget that Spidey's web-swinging was once a novelty in the several Spider-Man video games that Activision released in the 2000s, since it has become a staple feature. Spider-Man 2 was the first game to make you feel like Spider-Man by allowing you to shoot webs through a realistic (for the PS2) representation of New York City. By finally portraying what it is like to be Spider-Man, the original Spider-Man won a particular place in our hearts. Later incarnations of the character would vastly improve upon this aspect in almost every way.
Hulk Ultimate Destruction (2005)
There have been other games featuring the Hulk, but this 2005 game was the first to realise that all we wanted to do as the Hulk was smash. The character benefited greatly from the open world design, which provided him unprecedented freedom to ruin the environment. You are a hero performing heroic acts, but your surrounds will be obliterated in the process. Unlike Spider-Man 2, however, this game that absolutely nailed its main character never received a sequel, leaving fans yearning for more ultimate carnage for several years.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance (2006)
Years before the MCU began combining heroes like action figures, Marvel Ultimate Alliance allowed you to play with all of your favourite heroes to construct your fantasy squad. Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its successor, MUA2, are famous for their innovative isometric gameplay featuring four characters at once, allowing you to construct a team and instantly switch between fan favourites such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, and Captain America. Even obscure characters such as Black Panther were featured even before the MCU blockbuster made him a household recognition. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 was a Switch-exclusive game that received a good-but-not-great reception, but it satisfied the craving.
The Wolverine Origins films were bad, but this gaming tie-in was excellent. The hack-and-slash game featuring everyone's favourite Canadian superhero features a semi-original tale based on the movie script and comics legend. The main attraction was a visual display of Wolverine's mutant healing factor, which allowed viewers to observe his muscle and tendon regenerating after a particularly nasty scrape. It was merely a fancy approach to demonstrate self-healing, but seeing it on Wolverine made it so awesome. Aside from that, it was an adequately fleshed-out game with a complete skill tree and varied monster encounters.
Marvel Pinball (2010)
Not that long ago, mega-successful businesses would build and distribute physical pinball tables to arcades and bars across the country. Pinball is now a more specialised pastime, but Zen Pinball has kept the trend alive with a vast selection of virtual pinball tables that frequently tie in with popular movies and television series. Marvel Pinball is a centre for these imaginative table designs, beginning with a few heroes such as Spider-Man and Wolverine and expanding with DLC to incorporate comic arcs such as World War Hulk and the Infinity Gauntlet.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010)
Activision and Beenox created a series of Spider-Man video games with mixed results, but Shattered Dimensions had the unique hook of uniting the Spider-Man cosmos. You were able to web-sling as the Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, 2099 Spider-Man, and Spider-Man Noir, as opposed to a single iteration of Spidey. This provided the game with a diversity of tones and situations that had been lacking in previous Spider-Man games. If the pitch sounds familiar, it's because it inspired the Spider-Verse comic books, which were then translated into the blockbuster film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Marvel Puzzle Quest (2013)
The Puzzle Quest series began as a pretty basic swords-and-sorcery epic, albeit with the ingenious addition of RPG elements to a match-3 game. Since then, it has branched out in numerous directions, but Marvel Puzzle Quest may be the most successful. Using the tried-and-true match-3 gameplay, the live service mobile game has regularly added new heroes and circumstances for players to face as they increase their roster of heroes. Even though it's a free-to-play game, many agree that it's a generous one that offers a great deal of free play time.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)
Marvel was, thus, a natural fit for the Lego video game series, which favours franchises with a large number of playable characters and diverse locales to explore. You may team up with Captain America, Star-Lord, and Spider-Gwen, among others, in Lego Marvel Super Heroes and its sequel. It separates its array of heroes into distinct skill sets for puzzle-solving and combat challenges, allowing you to revisit stages with freshly unlocked characters to discover hidden secrets.
Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series (2017)
During Telltale's latter years, the company released games based on nearly every popular culture property. Due to the success of two films, Guardians of the Galaxy had increased in popularity, and their constant arguing made it a strong fit for Telltale's narrative style. You, as Peter, had to make some difficult decisions that may have angered Rocket or Gamora, which ultimately led to a resolution that saved the galaxy but provided you with one more difficult choice. Following the example of James Gunn's musically reverent films, each episode was given the name of a well-known classic rock song.
Marvel's Spider-Man (2018)
Following years of mediocre games, Insomniac's take on the legendary wall-climber reinvigorated the character for a new generation of platforms and fans. The new Spider-Man takes what was fantastic about many of the classics, such as Spider-Man 2, especially the excitement of web-slinging across a realistic Manhattan, and added more fluid combat inspired by the Batman Arkham series as well as a filmic original tale with magnificent cutscenes. This version of Spider-Man, distinguishable by a costume unlike any of the character's hundreds of previous iterations, has earned a place in Marvel legend. The well-drawn Spidey universe created by Insomniac will continue in Marvel's Spider-Man 2.
Iron Man VR (2020)
Many video games let you live out your greatest power fantasies, but virtual reality may take this to the next level by allowing you to feel like you're flying above the skies. This was the idea behind Iron Man VR, a PSVR-exclusive experience that put you inside the helmet of one of Marvel's most recognisable heroes. The game allowed for unrestricted exploration, and reviews lauded its realistic flight dynamics, which is no easy task in a VR game.
Marvel's Avengers (2020)
Marvel's Avengers has become most known for its polarising ongoing live service, as some players keep up with it regularly while others find it too taxing. Regardless of how you feel about this component of the experience, the overall package is outstanding. Crystal Dynamics created a full-scale campaign highlighting relative newcomer Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. This adaptation of her comic book powers was a well-told superhero coming-of-age story and a wonderful example of Muslim representation to boot. Whether you favour a brute like Hulk or a ranged attacker like Iron Man, the rest of the characters' abilities are effectively distinguished. This game had to fight an uphill battle to win over a sceptical audience, and it largely succeeded.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020)
Spider-Man by Insomniac hinted at the introduction of fan-favorite character Miles Morales, who is his own friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. This spin-off game ushered in the PS5 by giving Miles his own adventure, but it was more than a simple colour shift for Miles' sleek black suit. Morales' Spider-Man received his own whole plot, along with his own foes, in which he had to learn the ropes of being Spider-Man and safeguard the city while Peter was away. It also takes place throughout the winter, giving the event a pleasant seasonal feel.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2021)
After the mixed response to Marvel's Avengers, expectations for Square Enix's next Marvel game were muted. Similar to Avengers, Eidos-Guardians Montreal's of the Galaxy was its own Guardians universe independent from the MCU and told an own story influenced by comic books. But this version of the Guardians actually had a great tale with a lot of heart, as it followed a finding family of space misfits as they battled a vast cult invading the universe. The combat put you directly in the position of the group's leader, Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord, who commands the guardians and even delivers pep talks.