BEHIND THE SCENES

Building a Better Villain

Marvel Strike Force turns a D-list bad guy into the ultimate threat.

MARVEL Strike Force: Squad RPG

Super Hero Teams Assemble

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The creators of Marvel Strike Force admit that Ultimus—a D-list bad guy last seen in the ’90s—is a peculiar choice for the game’s star villain.

“No one’s ever heard of him,” says creative director Jason Bender. And it’s not as though Ultimus’ look had evolved much since his debut in a 1962 issue of Thor. “He was like a glam-rock wrestler.”

But Ultimus was the perfect character to solve the paradox at the center of the game’s story, says Bender.

Back in the day, Ultimus called himself the Demon Druid. Thor’s hammer barely scratched him.

In Marvel Strike Force, players choose five Marvel heroes and villains to form squads to battle one another. Even with dozens of characters to choose from, there are bound to be matches where the same fighter appears on opposing teams—Spider-Man pitted against another Spider-Man, for example.

Ultimus—a D-list bad guy last seen in the ’90s—is a peculiar choice for the game’s star villain.

Bender didn’t want to attribute that overlap to clones or robots, or to the whole story being some kind of simulation. So he hatched the idea of a dimension-hopping villain who conquers one alternate universe after another, forming an army of Hulks, Elektras, and other characters as he makes his way toward our world.

In reimagining Ultimus, the devs experimented with different types of facial hair, tattoos, armor, and capes.

This required a nemesis mighty enough to rally everyone, good and bad, against him. Access to advanced technology to pull it all off wouldn’t hurt either.

After scouring the Marvel universe, Bender realized Ultimus is all that and more. A trained soldier for an alien empire (the Kree), he’s superstrong, wields cosmic energy, can fly, and is reckless enough to try to conquer multiple universes.

He would need a serious makeover, though.

Out went his long, wavy hair and purple onesie; in came a buzz cut and gold-accented armor. A battle-scarred face betrays his years as a galaxy-roaming outlaw. His fancy cybernetic eyepiece hints at his civilization’s technological know-how.

His fiercer, more militaristic look mirrors Ultimus’ actions in the game. In story mode and raids, he’s mighty enough to single-handedly take on your entire team. Don’t be surprised if he defeats a character with one punch or energy beam.

In a twist, you can unlock Ultimus as a playable character and add him to your roster. Being able to unleash his devastating attacks—especially grabbing an enemy and hurling him offscreen—is a blast.

For Bender, Ultimus is a character whose time has come—and a natural fit for the game’s lead nemesis. “It’s exciting to be able to introduce a classic Marvel character to a whole new generation.”

    MARVEL Strike Force: Squad RPG

    Super Hero Teams Assemble

    VIEW