Black Widow
Image: Disney/Marvel Studios

The Bayonetta developer Platinum Games almost worked on a Black Widow prior to the development of Bayonetta 2. That's according to the former Disney Interactive Studios director of creative development Martin Alltimes.

Alltimes revealed the interesting fact during a conversation with Time Extension about his career in games, where he also gave some information about a few other cancelled Marvel projects that were in development during his time at Disney. This included a previously unknown project from the Enemy Territory: Quake Wars developer Splash Damage based on the Marvel comic book Secret Wars and Avalanche studio's Iron Man (which previously came to light in a Minnmax interview with Avalanche's co-founder Cristofor Sundberg back in 2022).

According to Alltimes, Platinum Games signed an early concept development deal with Disney to put together some ideas before getting the green light.

As Alltimes recalled, "They didn't even deliver a tech demo. What they delivered was a filmed fight sequence with these martial arts guys on a mocap stage. And it was like some of the most exciting fighting I've ever seen."

We were able to confirm this information with another source (who wished to remain anonymous), who told us the early concept work was being directed by Yusuke Hashimoto prior to the development of Bayonetta 2. Although, they seemed to indicate that a proper demo was actually being worked on behind the scenes rather than a simple mocap demo and claimed that it was looking "great".

Interestingly, as Alltimes revealed, Platinum Games wasn't the only company interested in making a Black Widow project with Disney. Before Platinum won the concept development contract, the Swedish developer Starbreeze was also in the running for this license before ultimately losing out, and they were actually Alltimes' preferred studio to pick up the project.

"I pitched Starbreeze to work on that because they had really interesting first-person ideas that they wanted to do with Black Widow," he explained. "But I couldn't convince my guys in Europe that they should get the deal."

According to sources who were close to Starbreeze during this period, the runtime demo the developer put together likely used the same first-person fighting system developed for the company's cancelled Bourne game The Bourne Ascendency, while a teaser trailer was created by a small team at the studio working with a VFX company in Kyrkan in Uppsala.

At this point, you may be wondering what prevented Platinum from going any further with the project and unfortunately, it seems like there were two reasons. The first was Disney's market research at the time, with Alltimes telling us that "The market research said no one wanted to play Black Widow". And the other was a high-level change that happened inside Disney that saw the company cut budgets across console development after sales of games like Pure and Split/Second: Velocity failed to impress.

I pitched Starbreeze to work on that because they had really interesting first-person ideas that they wanted to do with Black Widow. But I couldn't convince my guys in Europe that they should get the deal.

"They brought in a new guy who got rid of the old guy," Alltimes claimed. "And then suddenly, it was like, 'Oh, yeah, sorry, consoles are dead.' And then he spent the most money on any console game of all time on Disney Infinity. Think about that. Anyway, this guy's telling you consoles are dead and he's got his budget cut, so we have to can projects."

Sadly, this second reason is also what seems to have befallen Splash Damage's Secret Wars — which would have been a multiplayer shooter. Avalanche's Iron Man, on the other hand, was a slightly different situation.

"Marvel basically wanted to have Avalanche to do a demo for E3," Alltimes explained. "So this was years before it was going to come out. And I said, 'You know how much effort it takes to do that? And if we do that, it's going to have a knock-on effect.' And they said, 'No, we want a demo.' And then they did the demo, and they said, 'No, it's not good enough.' And I just turned to the guys and said, 'Do you really want to work on this for another two years and know it's going to be shit? So you've got a choice - you can either accept you're gonna be burned or you can just tell them it can't be done.' And Avalanche just told Disney, 'Look, We don't need this title.'"

Speaking to Alltimes, it was fascinating to hear more about these cancelled projects — some of which have never been talked about publicly — and it got us wondering about what could have been if they saw the light of day.

In the past, Black Widow has still never received her own solo game despite featuring in countless Marvel titles over the years, while Secret Wars has only ever inspired a single mobile title in the form of Marvel Realms of Champions, despite their potential.