I have thoughts about Marvel and ILM’s newest Virtual Reality experiment, and none of them actually really pertain to what you’ll be doing if you head out and book a ticket to try it.
This morning Marvel Studios and ILMxLAB announced Avengers: Damage Control, a location-based VR experience launching this October at select VOID VR locations. Unlike, say Vader Immortal—which was ILMxLAB making experiences for headsets users have at home—Damage Control is much in line with the experimental studio’s previous Star Wars VR endeavor, Secrets of the Empire. Put on a headset and backpack with a bunch of other people, wander around a specifically designed space, and get to be fully immersed in a short experience. Instead of it being the galaxy far, far away, now it’s alongside some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
The premise sees players visiting one of the outreach outposts T’Challa began establishing across the world at the end of Black Panther tasked with trying out Shuri’s latest invention: Emergency Response Suits, an amalgam of Wakandan Design Group and Stark Industries technologies. Naturally, things go wrong, and suddenly you find yourself suiting up to combat a mysterious threat “from the past” alongside the likes of Doctor Strange, the Wasp and Ant-Man, and more. Letitia Wright, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, and Paul Rudd will all reprise their respective MCU roles for the experience.
Given the at-home Avengers VR experiences we have right now, there’s not much Damage Control has to do to provide a superior superheroic experiment—and based on its prior work with Star Wars, ILMxLAB seems very much equipped to deliver a cool, superpower experience in VR like this. But as cool as it all is, my initial beef with Damage Control lies more in the fact that...why the hell is Shuri, the smartest person in the MCU, emulating Tony Stark designs?
She can do, and has done, better! Avengers: Infinity War established her disdain for the cowboy work Tony and Bruce Banner were capable of with Vision, after all. And when she has the Black Panther suit right there, why should she even begin considering to use Iron Man designs as a basis for the ERS? Yes, you could argue the hybrid approach—in the trailer above you can see a lot of Wakandan design influence in the otherwise very Iron Man/Rescue aesthetic of the suits you’ll ostensibly be wearing in VR—is meant to be a part of Wakanda’s outreach to the wider world. Play nice, use at least some of their tech while bettering it with Wakandan intellect and design. But man, it’d be way cooler to be suiting up in a Black Panther-style Vibranium suit than Iron Man MK 50 gabillion.
Even when dead, the long specter of Tony Stark’s shadow is cast far, it seems. Even in movie-adjacent VR experiences! Maybe I’m just overthinking it and should just be excited for a Marvel VR experience that doesn’t suck. We’ll find out if Damage Control fits that bill when it hits select VOID VR locations across the U.S. for a limited time, starting October 18. You can book your tickets to try it out for yourself here!
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