Avengers: Endgame marked a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the stories of major characters like Captain America and Iron Man now resolved, it’s unclear what the future holds for Marvel superheroes. In the meantime, the new Avengers: Damage Control VR experience (currently on display at multiple VOID locations around the U.S. and Canada) fills the gap by inserting you as a fan into the world of the MCU.
The Damage Control story picks up a bit after Endgame, with all the Snapped heroes back in action. Letitia Wright’s Shuri inducts groups of up to four players into the game, saying she needs help testing out her new prototype design combining Wakandan and Stark technology. The result, which players inhabit for the course of Damage Control, looks and feels like a combination of Iron Man and Black Panther’s costumes; ILMxLAB Experience Director Ian Bowie calls it “the Bugatti of superhero suits.” Soon after, players are recruited by Doctor Strange to combat a resurgent threat.
“One of those characters being able to hand that to you, that’s the power of it,” Dave Bushore of Marvel Studios says. “The fun of the Marvel Universe is mixing and matching, having characters work together that make you go, ‘Whoa, that’s amazing!’ Here, the characters are giving you the tech and saying ‘here you try it, you do it.’ Fans love when characters pick up a piece of tech or give something to another character. So here’s your version of the thing that you love.”
Doctor Strange begins by lecturing the players about the history of the Infinity Stones, which makes it seem like Thanos might be on the way. But no, there’s only one stone in particular that Strange is focusing on here: the Mind Stone. It turns out that Ultron, the Stark-designed robot originally given consciousness by the Mind Stone, is back and better than ever. He’s apparently been hiding away since the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron and slowly rebuilding himself at Damage Control headquarters, which gives this VR experience its name. As you may remember from the opening scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Damage Control is the clean-up crew for the MCU, tasked with picking up the rubble after the heroes do their job. Over the course of the Damage Control VR, players fight many versions of Ultron, from his robot drones to a massive monster built out of the MCU’s junk.
“We looked at a bunch of different villains,” Bushore says. “He’s such a fan favorite, and he’s one of my favorite villains. But also the ability to have different incarnations of him works so great. He’s a character from a tech perspective who’s constantly changing, constantly evolving. If you’re putting a character in a tech environment who’s gonna evolve over time, it’s Ultron. He needs to work in those ways but not be so powerful that you need every Avenger on the planet to beat him.”
Damage Control is an exhilarating, in-the-moment experience, but Bushore notes that there are many Easter eggs for those who pay close attention: “If you look at Ultron, you’ll see a lot of different logos and things. The blaster he shoots at you: One side is the sonic cannon from The Incredible Hulk, and the other side is a Hydra cannon.”
In order to defeat Ultron, players have a few capabilities at their disposal. By holding your hand forward in the classic Iron Man pose, you can shoot an energy beam. But the charge doesn’t last forever; by holding your arm upright in front of you, you can block attacks and recharge your own energy (which adds the Black Panther touch).
“The way that you hold your body actually instills confidence in you, so finding poses that actually make you feel heroic as you’re doing it was a conscious decision,” Bowie says. “You don’t just want to play a superhero, you want to pose like a superhero and feel it in your bones. We wanted to give this combat a heartbeat. The charge and fire works so well to set that pace. By playing with that we’re able to get a tempo that people naturally fly into and get more into it.
One of my favorite moments that I saw was when the beam enemies come flying across. I saw someone jump in front of their friend and bring up their shield to block for their friend. Moments like that allow you to feel more like a team.”
Avengers: Damage Control is available at select VOID locations through the first week of November; book tickets here.