There’s no such thing as asking too many questions when you’re adapting popular superhero characters. One wrong read of a character’s mythology and you’ll suddenly find yourself dealing with an army of surprisingly irate fans. Still, when developing the SNES fighting game Justice League Task Force, Blizzard found themselves trying to answer the rather bizarre question: “Can Superman kick?”
In an interview with IGN, Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham remembers having to submit their design decisions to DC in order to make sure they were true to the comic characters and universes. In the process, they found themselves in a rather awkward position when DC informed the developers that Superman isn’t really someone who would kick anybody.
“How do you make a fighting game where all of the characters can kick except for one?” asked Adham. In an effort to get around this rather awkward design problem, the team got their hands on as many Superman comics as they could in order to find an instance of Superman kicking that they could use as leverage. They didn’t find any panels featuring a full kick, but they did notice something relatively close.
“There’s a panel in the Death and Return of Superman where Doomsday and Superman are fighting, and he knees Doomsday,” said Adham. “We then pointed at that specific comic, [that] page, and we said ‘Superman does kick. Or, at least he knees. Can he knee?’”
The team got the go-ahead to put a knee attack in the game, but the process of having to get permission to design the simplest of fighting game features was one of the reasons why Blizzard decided to stop developing adaptations.
“From that point forward, we knew that we would always want to create our own IPs,” said Adham. “The joy of making games goes hand-in-hand with creating worlds and creating characters.”
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.