Marvel Rivals’ large roster includes both popular and obscure characters, showcasing a potential change in Marvel’s priorities.
Marvel Rivals highlights the return of previously inaccessible characters like X-Men and The Fantastic Four, as well as niche figures like Luna Snow.
Marvel Rivals’ diverse roster may signal a new era for Marvel games, with future titles potentially featuring more obscure characters and rising stars.

Marvel Rivals has yet to announce its launch date, but has still revealed a rather sizable roster. As a 6v6 hero shooter, there will need to be twelve players on the field at all times, so it’s no wonder Marvel Rivals is opting to give players plenty of options. However, the roster could go on to have far-reaching implications for future Marvel titles.

Marvel Rivals has officially confirmed twenty-one characters that will be playable at launch. Likewise, credible leaks suggest there will be even more characters revealed, with many of the rumored inclusions likely to be added after the game launches. The size of the roster is one thing, a necessity for the genre of the game, but the makeup of Marvel Rivals‘ roster suggests a few things about Marvel’s priorities.


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Marvel Rivals Roster Shows Marvel’s Shifting Priorities

Marvel Heroes Return to the Spotlight

For a long time, Marvel lacked access to the film rights of some of its most popular heroes. This incentivized Marvel to not include these characters in prominent media outside of comics. Things escalated further when Disney took over, and brand synergy with the Marvel Cinematic Universe became a clear priority for the games released in the following years.

During the merger between Disney and Fox, Marvel regained the film rights to many of the characters it had previously lost. Popular characters that Marvel has been tapping into the potential of lately include the X-Men and The Fantastic Four, and Marvel Rivals is the latest showing of these characters operating in full-swing. Off the heels of the success of X-Men ’97, Mutants are receiving a lot of promotion, and Insomniac’s X-Men game is further proof of that.

Spider-Man’s inclusion in Marvel Rivals shows that this extends even further. While embracing formerly estranged characters is a clear priority, Marvel is also showing it is more than willing to play ball with the IPs that are still in contention. This is a stark contrast from its strategy just a few years ago, and possibly a response to the backlash faced by titles like Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.

Marvel Rivals’ Features Fan Favorites and Newcomers Alike

Marvel Rivals makes a case that Marvel’s gaming division has shifted priorities quite a bit. Rather than representing characters who operate as the face of the MCU, it is delving more deeply into Marvel’s extensive library of interesting characters. This is a trend that is more prevalent than ever in Marvel Rivals, but is likely to continue with future Marvel games as well.

Of course, Marvel Rivals isn’t leaving fan favorite heroes behind. Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man are all present on the game’s roster, along with many other faces one would expect to return. However, what says much more about the intention of Marvel Rivals is its willingness to delve into obscure characters.

In that regard, the standout of Marvel Rivals is Luna Snow, a character created as recently as 2019. This has had many casual fans turning their heads with interest, as she doesn’t yet share the high profile of heavy hitters like Spider-Man. However, characters like Doctor Strange and Rocket Raccoon weren’t always household names, and this illuminates something about the roster of Marvel Rivals.


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Marvel Rivals Highlights Up-and-Coming Favorites

Though brand synergy is no longer apparent as Marvel’s main concern with their games, it is by no means absent. Marvel has already begun using the X-Men in popular media outside of comics, and is likely to continue doing so. They are absent from the game’s official roster, but The Fantastic Four are prevalent in Marvel Rivals roster leaks, and could arrive alongside their MCU film.

Marvel isn’t just celebrating the return of some fan favorite characters; it is a means of fanservice in order to pave the way for future appearances. Of the characters already revealed, the Soulsword-wielding Magik is perhaps the best example. Though she is a character who has been in the supporting cast of the X-Men since 1975, she hasn’t been a staple of the franchise until recently. Now though, it looks like Marvel Rivals is just the beginning for Magik.

Magik is a headliner in the main team of X-Men: From the Ashes, which is beginning its run on July 10, 2024. Marvel Rivals is the latest effort to represent Magik in more popular media, and it’s pretty clear other members of the roster are in the exact same position. While previous titles prioritized members of the MCU, it’s clear Marvel has changed its focus quite a lot.

Marvel Rivals Could be the Beginning of a New Era for Marvel Games

Marvel Rivals is far from the last Marvel video game. Though not confirmed, a new title in other expansive series like Marvel Ultimate Alliance or Marvel vs. Capcom could be right around the corner. The patterns that are appearing in Marvel Rivals are likely to recur in these future titles, and potentially even suggest who may receive a solo outing in the future.

Fans of the X-Men or Fantastic Four can likely expect their favorites to return in future Marvel games. In the same vein, fans of Spider-Man can feel secure in his gaming roles, despite Marvel not owning the film rights to the wall-crawler. Furthermore, newer characters like Luna Snow are likely to continue receiving a chance at the spotlight, with rising stars like Magik joining the fray to show off fans’ renewed interest.

Rather than solely representing the characters that are already being represented in popular media like the MCU, Marvel is casting a wide net. After all, Marvel Rivals has already shown its willingness to create a roster that blends fan-favorites with more obscure characters. If Marvel Rivals manages to find success through this strategy, it could be good news for future Marvel games.

“}]] Marvel Rivals is set to launch with an impressive roster, which may offer clues on which heroes and villains Marvel may prioritize in the future.  Read More