Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes is an amazing, once in a lifetime game that brings together over 50 characters from wildly disparate worlds and franchises. So, in an effort to pay tribute to one of the games I believe to be the greatest of all time, please enjoy day two of a five-day, 100% complete, generally alphabetical look at every fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Let’s start today with…
Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin
Now here’s some characterization! Colossus is Russian and a pedophile! Kick ass!
Okay, wait, no, start again.
Piotr “Peter” Rasputin is Russian. And that was huge at his introduction in 1975! This was when America had that whole Cold War thing going on, and, while X-Men was deliberately drawing from a global-based cast of new characters, it was just kind of assumed that the USSR was not on the menu. And if they should actually contain a Slavic character, they were going to have a traitor on the team inside of a dozen issues. But Piotr was invariably good! Like, okay, he may have had a brief flirtation with the Brotherhood of Generally Not Friendly Mutants, but he was grieving his (apparently temporarily) dead sister at the time. Perfectly understandable! Other than that dalliance with the forces of evil, Пётр Николаевич Распутин has been unwaveringly kind, reliable, and virtuous. He is the very pinnacle of the “sensitive strong guy” archetype, and that is significant when he likely would have been cast as the villain in nearly any other media of the time. Just because you were from Potato Europe in the 70s did not mean you were a bad guy, and Colossus affirmed this fact in his every appearance.
But he also started a relationship with a 14-year-old Kitty Pryde when he was, like, probably in his late 40s (it’s hard to judge with some guys). That was gross. But he did eventually dump the squirt for an alien woman on another planet, which was probably morally a better move. Other than, he’s a pretty reliable dude!
If you need some more dossier information, Colossus has the ability to transform his skin into metal/explode his pants into bikini briefs. It is an oddly specific power. This metal transformation also increases his strength (presumably because his fleshy muscles would snap under metal skin without super strength… crap, that was an Ultimate plotline, wasn’t it?), so if you need somebody to help move furniture around the X-Mansion, he is good to go. Unfortunately “super strong” doesn’t always translate well to videogames where everybody down to Two P is already throwing knockout punches, so please enjoy a Colossus that occasionally has the power to generate some kind of transformation-energy-blast thing. Or maybe he can just toss a car around. Whatever works.
Oh, and Colossus also has a brother that is a secret space villain. That brings us neatly to our next featured character…
Scott “Cyclops” Summers
There are often claims that X-Men’s Wolverine has multiple clones, duplicates, or something, because he can appear in a different comic storyline every week. Logically, there must be more Wolverines to accommodate his presence in multiple superhero events across the globe. This is, obviously, foolishness, as Wolverine is one of the most consistently characterized personalities in all of X-Men. He’s the best at what he does, bub, what more does he need to be?
Cyclops, though? Nobody knows what this guy is supposed to be.
Cyclops was introduced with the other X-Men in their initial, 1963 appearance. He was not the athletic genius. He was not the gorgeous telekinetic. He was not the man made of purest snow, nor the angel that could soar through the skies. He was the guy with eye lasers and a weird helmet. He was the leader, yes, but also the least interesting member of the team. A tale about Scott Summers was old news even when he was new, and most readers would rather see an issue dedicated to explaining Beast’s oversized feet (granted, some readers were unusually interested in that topic). This led to three “interesting” interpretations of Cyclops over the course of the years, and all three are rock-stupid.
- Cyclops is the leader of the X-Men. Despite Professor X telepathically coaching from day one, Cyclops was always the field leader of the X-Men. And, depending on the writer, Cyclops has occasionally had his job title expanded to be his defining personality trait. Cyclops is not just a leader, he is an expert tactician enhanced by a mutant power that seems to put an unusual emphasis on geometrically aiming lasers. Cyclops is not just a leader, he is the head of all mutant-kind, and will do absolutely anything to protect and nurture his people. Cyclops is not just a leader, he is a man who adopted the persona of a cosmic god to defend everyone in the universe. This is an excellent role for Cyclops, though with the obvious caveat that he always fails. Dude was powered by all the cosmic energy of his (then) dead wife, and he couldn’t take down one Dr. Doom? Lame. He’s led the X-Men to literal extinction on multiple occasions, and, in general, if you’re dealing with a Cyclops plan, you know it’s going to be all “uplifting planning montage” that fails in the third act. And, okay, that’s the nature of living in a comic book universe, but Scott has been sucking for almost sixty years. Even if we are only keeping about half of his failures in modern continuity, that is still a universe where it is a wonder anyone listens to Cyclops about anything. This dude plans a ham sandwich, and you know it will somehow mutate into an entire island of malevolent ham monsters before lunchtime. “The brilliant tactical mind of Scott Summers” has gotten everyone killed on a few occasions, which neatly leads us to…
- Cyclops is supposed to be the everyman of the X-Men universe. This is a concept with some (slim) legs! On a team that routinely hosts two blue, furry members, Cyclops does seem to look like the average CIS white male, but with an X-Men mandated mutant twist. Cyclops must wear his ruby-quartz visor/glasses at all times, lest his infinite tears will flood the entire world. So, there, he can be a normal guy, but with just enough mutant angst to sell the franchise. But, over the years, Cyclops has picked up a significant amount of continuity that… separates him from the pack. He was originally just an orphan, but it turned out his dad was a space pirate. He originally had a crush on a cute redhead, but she turned out to have all the power of the cosmos. He traveled through time before he was old enough to drive. He died a couple of times, and has come back every time, sometimes with multiple, abandoned revivals per death. Nobody knows who Scott is married to, because how many fatalities on both sides legally annuls a marriage? Scott could be an everyman, but not every man has had a home on a living island that you personally conquered. Cyclops is exactly as mundane as any other superhero, but it feels a little disingenuous when writers expect you to feel a sense of kinship with the dude that fought Iron Man for the right to be a bird-god. And speaking of gods…
- Cyclops could arguably be the center of the X-Men universe, right there from the premiere. Every team needs a star, and Cyclops is the headliner beyond leader. He must make the hard decisions! He is the Red Ranger! And, as comics go on, that means he is the one that has to be the focal point of conflicts, as he is the king moving one space along the board. If something happens to Cyclops, it’s checkmate! He is the center of the X-Universe, and, even when he is dead, there is a “Kid Cyclops” or an entire movement in his name or something that keeps the Cyclops brand alive. You don’t see that happening with Pixie. And, unfortunately, this loops us back to what caused this problem in the first place: Cyclops just isn’t interesting enough to support that kind of… support. He’s a dude with eye lasers! Who is apparently popular with telepaths! Beyond that, it is hard to believe that Cyclops can rally the hearts of a hundred lemmings, left alone a world full of mutants. Cyclops proves time and time again that he is the most important X-Men, but it seems like that is more a case of some kind of universal nepotism than anything. We are repeatedly told he is important, but are rarely given an actual reason as to why he is important. He is just a dude that occasionally wears a rad jacket. End of movement.
And what does this all mean? It means Cyclops can tornado kick right into a train for all anybody cares. No wonder Marvel vs. Capcom sublimated the original crossover marquee man with Wolverine…
Who doesn’t like Dan?
No, seriously, who doesn’t like Dan!?
Dan’s origins are well known. Street Fighter 2 was a gigantic hit that changed the landscape of gaming for a generation. And, naturally, there were imitators. Capcom identified The Art of Fighting as one such imitator, and thought there was more than a little resemblance between Ryu, the star of Street Fighter 2, and Ryo, a similarly dressed dude with a penchant for hurling fireballs. And Capcom wasn’t wrong! The designers of Ryo have publicly admitted that Ryu was a big influence on Ryo (we going to address the name? No? Okay). So Capcom reciprocated by making official art of Sagat defeating a very Ryo-looking opponent, and then plastering that art across the arcades. And, when SNK responded to that by doubling down and making Ryo the (literal) King of Fighters, Capcom created Dan. Dan looks and fights an awful lot like Ryo, but with the minor caveat that he is a completely inept idiot. Dan started as a hidden character in Street Fighter Alpha, but, in direct opposition to the previously only hidden fighter of Street Fighter, Akuma, Dan was not very strong. He was weak. He was a boastful nitwit that could barely summon up a flying kick. And he looked and moved a lot like a SNK character. The message was clear: Dan, and by extension Ryo and SNK, sucks.
And then a funny thing happened: everybody liked Dan. And thus did the world of Street Fighter like Dan.
Don’t be confused: Dan is still a joke. From his most recent appearance in Street Fighter 5, he is absolutely still a guy that canonically missed an entire Street Fighter title because he had not paid his phone bill. But beyond that? He is just trying his best, and the rest of the cast seems to acknowledge that. Ryu and Ken think he is a loser, but he’s a loser they can deal with. Sakura and Jimmy the Blanka acknowledge there is good in Dan, and do their best to help him in his endeavors. And Sagat (mostly accidently) murdered Dan’s father, but feels super bad about it. That cyclops has even thrown at least one fight to help Dan feel good about that whole “vengeful orphan” situation so Pinky does not become the worst Batman ever (yes, even worse than Jean-Paul Valley). In short, while Dan is a “joke character”, the rest of the cast does not treat him like a joke, but as a legitimate, well-meaning fighter that is not on their level.
So, somehow the guy that was introduced as little more than a parody is now a genuine person in the Street Fighter universe. It would be very easy for Capcom to continue to treat this invasive clown as little more than a parasite, but he is handled with kindness and understanding. He has gone from gag to everyman, and, while he is still eating a lot of concrete, wouldn’t you be in the same boat if you had to fight a dude that suplexes bears?
Let’s be real here, people, we are Dan.
There is… a lot to unpack here.
First of all, basic character design tip: do not create a “dedicated pacifist” in a franchise that is wholly and totally based on fighting. There is no way to be a pacifist in Street Fighter 2, and Dhalsim has literally never appeared in a videogame where he could even pretend there is a path to victory that does not involve a yoga noogie. Also, if you are going to have someone represent a culture, and have him be the only representative of an entire country of people, do not have him wearing ornamental children’s skulls. Sure, you can handwave it with some kind of half-assed explanation, but… maybe don’t do that? There are a lot of terrible stereotypes about “primitive” cultures resorting to cannibalism or other barbaric practices, and, geez, guys? This was just inadequately considered, and nobody is going to look up the Kāpālika tradition before assuming the worst about the presence of children’s skulls. Nobody else gets skulls! Just the Indian guy! What is that supposed to say?
But more than that, Dhalsim also fills the same stupid hole as other ethnic fighters across other franchises: he comes from a “spiritual” culture, so, naturally, he is the magician of the cast. This wasn’t a big deal in Street Fighter 2 where he was just generally upset with Bison causing droughts and Balrog punching his elephant, but it was already front and center by his reappearance in Street Fighter Alpha 2. Why did Cammy White first come to her senses? Because Dhalsim mystically unlocked her chakras (?), and she got to be self-aware for a plotline or two. From there, Dhalsim’s main “point” in any given SF plot is to be the wise dude in the cast that occasionally casts buffs on people so they become stronger. Or enlightened? Look, it does not matter if they are not outright calling it “magic” or “spells” or whatever, what is important is the guy is a magical plot device more often than not. And why him? Why, in a universe where even a meager street tough can generate self-sustaining tornados, is Dhalsim the magician? Well, because he comes from a “mystic” culture, so there has to be magic under that turban.
And, dude, Oro and Rose are right there. You don’t have to “other” a guy just to justify some stretchy limbs.
And this entire rant isn’t happening because they decanonized the whole “his fire breath comes from curry” thing. I mean, that was the kind of goofy stereotype I could get behind…
Doctor Victor von Doom
Man, the whole Marvel licensing/movie issue has done some characters dirty.
Doctor Doom is (usually) the ruling monarch of Latveria, a fictional country that primarily maintains its economy through the export of death robots. He is the main antagonist of the Fantastic Four, and, as they were the first real “super team” in the Marvel canon, he is one of the most well-known and frequently seen villains throughout the last sixty years of comics. He also has practically every “power”, from super intelligence to overflowing magical strength, and has always been phenomenally overpowered. This is not a case of “comics power creep” where someone like Lex Luthor goes from a pudgy guy in a suit to a president wearing a kryptonite-powered armada; Dr. Doom made his first appearance in a tale called, “Screw you guys, I have a time machine”. He used time manipulation to force our heroes to steal distinctly magical jewels, and then attempted to escape justice through the first use of a robot duplicate in Marvel. It was all right there from the beginning! So who could be surprised when, over the years, he has acquired more and more power, often becoming the “big bad” of any given crossover when he siphons off the cosmic power of The Beyonder (or whoever gets to be the god du jour). There are galactic threats in the Marvel Universe, but Dr. Doom often finds a way to be the final “human” opponent for the heroes… even if he has to use some goofy super science to get there.
And, honestly? It just makes sense that Dr. Doom would be the root evil in so many Marvel stories. Dr. Doom is the ultimate opponent in more ways than one. He has a personal vendetta against that hated Mr. Fantastic (Richards!), and generally deals poorly with any other super scientists in any roster. But he’s got power armor, so he can throw down with Thing, Hulk, or Fin Fang Foom if the need arises. And he’s a magician! He can have a magic-off with Dr. Strange, or stalk around Hell. And speaking of eternal damnation, if you want Victor to be sympathetic, you can always remind the audience that his mother was damned, and his ultimate goal in a story or two is to free his poor, ailing mama. Or he can wage wars against other kings! Or foil Spider-Man with diplomatic immunity. Whatever helps Doom be Doom.
And, ultimately, this is why Doom works over and over again. It’s not about all the powers he has, it’s about the power. Doom can thwart the heroes because he has the strength that comes from being outside of traditional laws and moralities, and, end of the day, the heroes cannot defeat him in any way that matters. Destroy his country, and he is still a super magician. Beat his brains over the sidewalk, and he can time travel it back to normal. The only thing that ever bothers Doom is Doom, and this is neatly showcased in his obsession with wearing an iron mask that hides a scar of dubious size. Beyond the occasional mishap that truly wounds Doom’s ego, Doom cannot be stopped, and even “we just saved the world from Doom” usually ends with the villain commenting that all is going according to plan.
… But since Dr. Doom and the Fantastic Four film rights were owned by Fox, the best we ever saw of Doom on the big screen was… some time when he was a robot? From Charmed? It was weird. Now all anybody wants to talk about is Thanos.
Your day is coming, Doom. You will be the villain we all need. Some day…
Felicia is a reminder that the Darkstalkers world is weird, y’all.
Okay, so we’ve got a cat girl here. Unlike the more universal vampires and Frankensteins of this franchise, she is a cat girl, and vaguely specifically based on a 1967 poem by Edward Field. That little ditty is primarily about a woman that transforms into a panther, and the basic gist of it is some kind of vague sexual liberation thing about how a man should probably kill his woman if she consistently wants to hump. Or maybe that’s a misinterpretation. Regardless, Felicia may not be a panther, but she does channel the raw sexual energy of a character based on a sex-murder poem. After all, she is, technically, naked at all times, with only fur covering her most naughty bits. She has the most significant measured bust in a fighting game. And, for those of you that are interested in such a thing, she is the only fighter in the 56-member strong cast of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 that showed up barefoot. You got fetishes, Felicia got answers.
And she’s also a nun.
Or at least she was raised by nuns. There is an ending where she starts an orphanage, but more often than not, Felicia is trying to become a vocal/television/movie star. And she has her own singing troupe! And they are all cat girls, too! And… what the hell does this all mean? Are cat girls a normal thing in the Darkstalkers universe? Felicia’s backstory being raised by nuns seems to imply she was a normal orphan until she started growing a tail. And that was… just okay? There was canonical debate over how society would react to a cat-nun, but everybody got over it, and decided to put aside their biases against cat-people. You know, as you do.
So is there the chance that literally any baby in the Darkstalkers universe will grow to be a cat girl, merman, or yeti? We do not know, and we likely won’t be seeing any answers anytime soon.
Remy Etienne “Gambit” LeBeau
And now, a quick list of Dos and Don’ts for including Gambit in your comics, videogame, or movie event
· DO preserve Gambit’s incredible costume. A long trench coat is something, but combining it with some kind of 80’s tiara? Perfect.
· DO find excuses for Gambit’s weirdly specific power. He can “kinetically charge” any non-biological object (most of the time), which basically just means he can make things explode. Playing cards are iconic, but go ahead and have him blow up whatever is laying around. Tossing a bursting bowling ball at Magneto could be fun!
· DO use that big ol’ Gambit stick. Donatello cannot be the only hero wielding a bo staff.
· DO feel free to note that Gambit’s formal educational level is “No official schooling in Data-Base.”
· DO, relatedly, feel free to use Gambit’s terrible accent, and maybe note that it is some kind of Mardi Gras-ass affectation that he probably practiced in an effort to be impressive when he was twelve.
· DO Casually slide into conversation that Mr. Sinister has been, like, Gambit’s dad through multiple adventures, and the two cannot quit each other. Did you know that Gambit had chunks of his brain removed by Mr. Sinister, but then those same chunks were put back by a Mr. Sinister in the past that then learned advanced brain surgery from studying his own work (in Gambit’s noggin)? It happened!
· DON’T revisit the “Thieves’ Guild” for any reason. Any time Gambit has to deal with his past as an ersatz Oliver Twist character, everything else grinds to a halt, and the rest of the X-Men have to stand around looking sad for a solid two days. Gambit is a thief, he comes from circumstances, and let’s just leave it at that.
· DON’T reexamine any time Gambit has been the focal point of a story. Gambit is a great supporting character, but when he is distinctly in the spotlight, you have a continuity snarl that barely supports his usual, happy-go-lucky incarnation. He was responsible for massacring mutants. He was a horseman of Apocalypse. He is to be the man who trains Bishop, and maybe was responsible for destroying an entire timeline. Leave that all at the curb. He’s a fun dude that likes gambling. Don’t worry about the time he fought his alternate doppelgänger that had somehow become the sun.
· DON’T portray Gambit as a relentless horndog. It is marginally acceptable for an X-Man to acknowledge that they have a sex drive. It is not okay for Gambit (or any character) to stubbornly hound the female cast, and particularly taunt and tease at least one X-Gal that literally could not act on those advances without incidentally committing murder. That is not cute, Gambit. If anime can occasionally come around on not including a “horny grandpa” character, Gambit can take a cold shower.
· DON’T let Gambit marry anybody. Name a character, and I guarantee, they are too good for him.
Follow these simple rules, and you too can have a terrific time with Gambit!
Important question: is Guile stupid?
Guile was created to be a character that distinctly appealed to Americans. So we’ve got, basically, a vaguely mundane G.I. Joe hero that can use his Airforce powers to generate sonic booms and flash kicks. Everything checks out, and it is kind of nice to have someone meant to appeal to his birth country, and not just some bizarre stereotype that appeals to exactly nobody (looking at you, Blanka). And Guile was a success! He was popular enough to become the canon winner of Street Fighter 2 (more or less), the star of his own movie (more or less), and one of the most iconic characters in the franchise this side of the dude in the headband. Guile is a Smash Bros. assist trophy, and not every fighter on the street gets to see that kind of fame.
But, as that previously mentioned assist trophy reminds us, Guile only has two moves. He has his sonic boom. He has his flash kick. And other than that? Well, the most exemplary other move in Guile’s arsenal is ducking and blocking like a wee turtle. You can give Guile credit for having some good, basic moves (what an excellent crouching roundhouse), but his special moves are sorely lacking. And that is particularly true when you consider characters like Elena who have qualifications like “is a foreign exchange student”, but somehow are significantly more adept with special moves than Guile.
And then, in Street Fighter Alpha, we learned that Guile didn’t even invent these special moves. It was his dearly beloved commanding officer, Charlie Nash, that pioneered the flash kick and sonic boom. And he was better at them! A contemporary-to-Charlie Guile was made available in Street Fighter Alpha 3, and he sucked ass. Charlie was so much better! It obviously took years and Dragon Ball-esque grief for Guile to get anywhere.
And then Guile never added another special move to his repertoire. Charlie checks out, and Guile can’t come up with a single good idea on his own.
And then some dork by the name of Remy stole the only two special moves Guile ever mastered! And Remy had nothing to do with anything.
You can’t even claim that the sonic/flash combo is somehow too overpowering to allow any other special moves! Seth is a biological monster that can perform sonic booms while utilizing about a dozen other special abilities. Guile hasn’t even tried to add a lightning kick to his repertoire.
So, if complete randos can pull off sonic booms while they’re attending their local Iori fan expos, we can be sure of one thing: Guile is a dummy. In a world where dudes who wrestle bears can utilize glowing hands, an Airforce Master Sergeant that can only marginally effectively ape his bro has got to be the biggest bonehead on the planet.
Thank you for that excellent sonic boom demonstration, Guile. Anything else today? No? Okay, please have a seat, and take out your pencil for remedial street fighting 101. It’s time to take roll, what did you say was your first name?
Hayato Kanzaki has a very distinct backstory. He was an orphan thief, but, one day, a police officer was injured while pursuing the boy. Hayato was innately good, and could not help but try to assist the injured man. Unfortunately, the space cop was then shot by another assailant, Hayato was blamed, and was sent to a reeducation center. He survived the experience, grew to become a dedicated bounty hunter, and now fights to raise money for an orphanage and/or to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend. Due to a checkered past, he has a lot going on in that bandana-covered noggin of his, but he is literally going to fight through it to see that people he cares about are safe.
Or he’s just, ya know, Luke Skywalker.
Hayato hails from Capcom’s 3-D weapons-fighter, the oxymoronically titled Star Gladiator: Episode 1: The Final Crusade. Thanks to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Hayato is the only Star Gladiator character to get some traction outside of his parent franchise, and a significant reason for that may be that if any other company notices Star Gladiator, Capcom is going to get sued. For one thing, this game plays remarkably similar to Namco’s Soul Edge, released a scant year earlier. And once you get past the basic gameplay, yes, that is a man with what is absolutely a lightsaber battling what is very obviously a Wookie. That “energy sword” is even powered by a mysterious force that comes from the mind, and its ultimate wielder is a black-clad cyborg that kind of looks like a futuristic samurai. He even comes back as a “plasma” ghost!
And, ultimately, none of this should be a surprise, because Star Gladiator was originally planned as a Star Wars fighting game (back when Star Wars wasn’t really a big deal) that lost the license, and then had to make do with a bunch of dudes with laser swords. Hayato absorbed Faux Luke’s fighting style, picked up more than a few Han Solo traits, and ventured forth as a not-Jedi. And it is a wonder that it was not revealed that Hayato was the nefarious Darth Bilstein’s secret son!
Regardless of origins, Star Gladiator did see a sequel, Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein, which did its best to maintain the same cast, add a whole lot of evil doppelgangers, and then branch the plot off further from the original Star Wars source. In fact, some may say it was overcompensating, as the Star Gladiator franchise wound up with a lot of detailed storytelling on its attendant official webpage… though that may have simply been a side effect of companies at the time having absolutely no idea what to do with the internet (as opposed to now, when everyone knows the digital marketing department should spend its time on meme-worthy papercraft). Whatever the reason, Star Gladiator was the hottest thing since sliced bread in the Capcom stable of 1998… and then it just got one lousy Dreamcast port, and everyone agreed to pretend it never existed.
I mean, dang, can you imagine a friggen’ Dreamcast fighting game with combatants with swords being popular for generations? Weird to even consider.
Bruce “Hulk” Banner
Here is an easy outline of how dedicated longform storytelling is… preposterous.
Bruce Banner was a typical scientist who was exposed to the radiation of an experimental weapon. As a result, Bruce would transform into The Incredible Hulk, a gigantic monster creature with the proportionate strength of at least 1.4 experimental weapons. There was some variation on the model in the early days (OG Hulk rules basically made him a muscular werewolf), but Hulk quickly stabilized to a remarkably straightforward concept: he’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a superhero!
And that has got universal legs. Whether it be the 60’s or today, a number of people feel like they have raw, unmanageable emotions bubbling up beneath the surface. It is something of a collective fantasy to imagine that these “uncontrollable” feelings could be turned to something simultaneously destructive and heroic. The Hulk is a rampaging monster, but he never kills an undeserving soul, and he is worthy of love no matter what happens. Who couldn’t get behind that?! He is a gentle giant! Who can punch cars into the stratosphere! He’s got a really easy to plot “power”, too, as anytime he cannot smash what needs smashing, he just needs to get angrier, and smashin’ gonna happen. Could spend a thousand issues with the big, green machine just tearing through vague metaphors for mental issues. Writes itself!
Unfortunately, Marvel actually has been responsible for a thousand issues of Hulk stories. Thus, the simplicity of the Hulk had to go through a few permutations over the years. The uncomplicated, child-like monster version of the Hulk occasionally became…
· A gray, Mr. Fixit Hulk, who was some kind of mafia bouncer.
· An Alaskan Citizen.
· A Hulk that still had all the intelligence (and head) of Bruce Banner.
· A highly radioactive Hulk that lived entirely separately from Bruce Banner.
· The World Breaker, an intergalactic king that maybe kinda sorta destroyed an entire planet
· Whatever the hell kind of mutant that allowed Hulk to team up with groups that include Iron Man, Hawkeye, Namor, and Nighthawk (though not simultaneously)
· A dad
· Nul, Breaker of Worlds, which was basically what if Thor was a Hulk and got super drunk. (While the whole thing was ill-advised, this Hulk did really ruin Dracula’s day)
· “Doc Green”, another version of smart Hulk that was, I don’t know, somehow different. Maybe he wore a lab coat more often?
· A not-zombie that was resurrected three consecutive times in the span of a month or two.
· Harpy f$^&er
And, complete with the recent revelation that “gamma radiation” is apparently literally energy from Hell, Hulk has gotten very complicated over the last few decades. Will we see a return of Alaskan, Thor-Hulk in the future? Maybe! It’s part of continuity, and that’s not going anywhere!
Bobby “Iceman” Drake
Robert Drake, the first certified public accountant to win the prestigious Xavier Award for Least Interesting Codename, is a man who can control ice. He can also become ice, and various versions of him (thanks multiverse!) have proven to have the “Omega Level Mutant” abilities to control all temperatures, greatly modify his own body mass, create sentient clones, or survive lethal blows by becoming a living puddle. Iceman is (like Spider-Man) one of those “permanent rookie” style characters that, were he just to “apply himself”, would be one of the most powerful superheroes in the game (err… that is to say the “game” of superheroing in the Marvel Universe… Though, technically, this could apply to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, too). Iceman is basically stuck in a state of arrested development, because, were he to mature, he would be literally more powerful than any given god (sorry Thor). There is a lot to be said about this kind of character in comics, particularly when you are looking at someone that has had the emotional maturity of a teenager for 58 continuous years.
But screw it all to the sticking place, because we’re going to talk about Iceman’s sexuality.
In 2012, someone at Marvel Comics decided that the X-Men continuity wasn’t enough of a snarl, so Dr. Henry McCoy had the bright idea to bring the “original” X-Men forward through time to sit down with their future, generally misguided selves (like the furry that thought time travel was cheaper than therapy). Scott Summers, Not-Yet-Dr. Henry McCoy, Warren Worthington III, Jean Grey, and Bobby Drake all visited the future of the Marvel present, and wound up sticking around for a few years (our time) to have adventures with modern-day heroes/situations. The whole time, there was something of a ticking time bomb, as these characters were continually reminded that they eventually would have to return to their proper time, and they would have to have their memories erased so they could then go on to have their proper continuity adventures. It came up approximately every seventeen seconds, and it didn’t matter if they were fighting venom symbiotes in the vacuum of space with the assistance of a galactically-empowered mirror, they constantly had to make passing references to how their modern day adventures must be wiped from their minds one day. It was a Sword of Damocles fashioned specifically for time-displaced superheroes.
And it was a particularly potent threat for Iceman, as this sword would turn Bobby straight.
Or back to straight? Turn off his gay? It’s complicated!
Upon traveling to the future (like, seriously, two dialogue boxes after learning the new status quo) Jean Grey revealed that she was casually picking around Bobby’s head, and “knew” he was gay. Bobby revealed that, yeah, he was totally checking out Angel’s divine bottom, and he was kind of confused as to why his future self wasn’t gay, too. And then Present Bobby was like, “oh yeah, I guess I’m gay, too,” and, bang, everybody named Bobby Drake was gay, and everyone went out for celebratory quesadillas. From there, Past Bobby started dating an Inhuman (literal) Romeo, and Present Iceman had a one-night stand with Pyro. So gay times for everybody!
Except… there was always the threat that Iceman would be psychically forced back into the closet. The whole concept there was that “gay” Iceman would eventually have to go back to his status quo from the 1960s comics, and he would then have to “grow up” through the life of an Iceman that dated notable women Polaris, Zelda Kurtzberg, Darkstar, an anthropomorphized living sun, Kitty Pryde, the daughter of Death, and Mystique (who, admittedly, could provide penis-based experiences). Cyclops would be forced to forget that he grows up to be a jerk, while Iceman would be forced to suppress his own sexuality for decades. Or maybe just hide his sexuality? Which may be worse? I don’t know! It sounds rough at best, and downright sadistic as worst. And given the whole… everything of that situation, it was assumed that Young Bobby and the rest of the Young X-Men would find some kind of loophole in this whole process, and maybe pop out of time to become the new Exiles or some similar, unforeseen plan. You know, basically see the Marvel writing staff find some way that doesn’t shove a teenage boy back in the closet as a result of having to satisfy continuity from before half the audience was born. This is a universe with a talking tree that pals around with a heavily-armed raccoon! Get creative, guys!
And, then, uh… nothing happened. There was some manner of “time delay” memory unlock for the modern incarnations of the “Young” X-Men, but that was it. Iceman had to go back to being straight for years, because that’s the way it had always been. Contemporary Iceman is still gay, but now he remembers being gay for a hot minute, and turning back into a straight playboy for years before later coming around to the ol’ gaytitude. I am generally pretty straight, but I am almost certain that would cause… let’s say… about 10,000% more mental trauma than turning yourself blue and fuzzy. Thanks a lot, Beast.
So, anyway, please remember that Iceman is going through a lot of mental turmoil any time he has to interact with Son Son in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Next time on FGC #600 Marvel vs. Capcom 2: Part 3: It’s Valentine’s Day for Max Eisenhardt.