The MCU is on the decline and the DCU’s confusing attempts to save itself have created fatigue in the superhero genre. City of Heroes, a beloved superhero franchise kept alive by fans may have the power to save superhero media. City of Heroes provides a fresh start, and a world where everyone can be a hero, villain, and everything in between.

As superhero fatigue sets in with Marvel and DC, many are beginning to realize that it might be up to a fan-favorite franchise to save the genre. For one reason or another, whether studios and fans like it or not, superhero fatigue is real. Whether the mundanity stemmed from an oversaturation of content, a repetitive formula, or questionable decisions behind the scenes, there are countless ideas about why superheroes are declining. However, efforts to revive a cult-classic series have shown that there’s still a chance for the golden days of superhero media to return and that fans have more power than they think in a world where everyone can be a hero, villain, or anything they dream via City of Heroes.

Before the age of modern superhero cinema took off, when MMORPGs were pushing the boundaries of what was possible, Cryptic Studios and NCSoft released City of Heroes. In 2004, the game launched, allowing players to enter Paragon City—a world of heroes and villains, cults and alien invasions, time travel, and alternate dimensions. Here, people could make the superhero of their dreams with various powers, costume pieces, and customizable details. Followed by expansions like City of Villains in 2005 and The City of Heroes: Going Rogue in 2010, the game eventually shut down in 2012, with a ceremonious gathering of heartbroken players holding an in-game torchlit vigil to send it off. While other superhero MMORPGs such as Champions Online and DC Universe Online released in City of Heroes’ wake, none have managed to recapture the camaraderie, nostalgia, or magic that its predecessor evoked.

What City of Heroes Offers Audiences in the Modern Day

City of Heroes won multiple awards, including “Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year” at 2006’s Interactive Achievement Awards.


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At the height of their game and amid their heyday, superhero media such as the Arrowverse and MCU had engaging stories, likable characters, and a universe people wanted to be a part of. There’s no denying the success of The Avengers or Arrow in creating a modern mythology that went beyond the typical comic book enthusiasts. Similarly, there’s no denying just how far Marvel and DC fell, with projects like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Ms. Marvel, and Black Adam failing to find success or a wider audience reflected in their declining viewership. However, with City of Heroes, there are familiar elements of what made past superhero stories so beloved, new opportunities, and, above all else, a fresh start.

As a title, the name City of Heroes is deceptive because while many stories begin in Paragon City, Rhode Island, it encompasses an entire multiverse with intricate and engaging lore on par with franchises like Star Wars. Over the years, players learned about the complex relationships between characters like Lord Recluse and Statesman. They later delved into a bizarre alternate history full of aliens, magic, and mad scientists in a world that reflected a comic book world but took the concept to new heights. Moreover, while the likes of Marvel and DC are constantly trying to reboot, reimagine, and, in many cases, replace classic characters to keep themselves from rehashing their origin stories, the thing about City of Heroes was it offered an original pantheon of characters that were almost unheard of by anyone in the mainstream. As Marvel and DC rely on familiar names and past legacy as a crutch to remain relevant, City of Heroes still has the potential to create its own in unique ways.

In recent years, the MCU and DCU have greenlit projects such as Echo, Blue Beetle, and the upcoming Young Avengers project, with hopes that people could see themselves on the screen through characters crafted to represent them. However, while Marvel and DC try to accomplish a noble goal, City of Heroes already took it to the next level in 2004. While there were comic books and novels, at the heart of the franchise was the MMORPG that came with a simple message: Anybody can be a hero or a villain. The idea behind City of Heroes was that its narrative was as much the fans’ story as it was Ghost Widow’s, Dr. Aeon’s, or Back Alley Brawler’s. The MMORPG was immersive and innovative, with much of the franchise focused on making a world big enough where everyone could adopt a comic book alter-ego and be part of it. While arguments may bring up projects like the failed Marvel’s Avengers game as a way to interact with a world inspired by the MCU and that Disney theme parks created some immersive experiences, what City of Heroes accomplished as a franchise that others don’t is a place where people can be a hero or villain through roleplay and interactive missions rather than just watching them.

Statesman and Ghost Widow appeared as playable characters in the MOBA Master X Master


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With few exceptions, superhero fatigue is becoming a problem. Disney actively admitted their decline in the wake of disappointments like The Marvels. Meanwhile, DC turned to director James Gunn to make sense of where to take their characters after the confusing continuity of content they released. However, the loudest indicators of waning interest come from declining views and box-office returns of recent superhero releases. Although, in the story of City of Heroes, there is proof that the genre is alive, well, and carried on by passionate fans.

When City of Heroes shut down, despite some interest in reviving the superhero and comic-based IP, the franchise as a whole remained neglected by its developers. However, in 2019, news leaked that a private server had been active and maintained in secret since the game shut down. A passion project of a select few moderators, when they became overwhelmed by nostalgic players, a public code became available. Despite the costs, legal concerns, and incredible effort needed to maintain the servers, fan-produced projects such as City of Heroes Homecoming, City of Heroes Rebirth, and Thunderspy: City of Heroes launched. Additionally, it was in 2024 that City of Heroes Homecoming got the blessing of NCSoft to carry on their spirit.

While it’s easy to believe that superheroes are losing steam, with two of the biggest names no longer generating the engaging content that launched a new era, City of Heroes suggests that things are more complicated than they seem. The continuous effort to sustain the MMORPG, the high demand for comics, novels, and HeroClix figures, and the daily influx of new accounts on fan servers all indicate that it might not be the entire superhero genre causing audience fatigue. Instead, it could be the stories told, the characters in the spotlight, or even the mediums exploring them. City of Heroes proves that superheroes are still very popular and that if there’s enough love for something, it’s the audience who has the power to keep it alive.

Why City of Heroes is a Beacon of Hope for Superhero Media

Transformers producer Tom DeSanto planned a City of Heroes movie in 2008 that never materialized.


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With NCSoft finally acknowledging their past franchise, perhaps now, more than ever, it’s time for City of Heroes to return, not only as an MMORPG but as an ambitious IP that planned to expand into movies and television. Things are changing, but the need for heroes, villains, and larger-than-life stories remains the same. City of Heroes remains supported by countless captivating ideas, compelling stories, and a welcoming community that could rival the MCU and DCU if fully revived. It’s exciting to consider the possibilities for City of Heroes and strange to think nobody fully realized them.

While Eyes of Wakanda struggles with superhero fatigue, imagine a more ambitious television series set in a city governed by supervillains, where Darwin’s laws serve as the driving philosophy, and people live each day as if it were The Purge. Rather than another Superman movie, City of Heroes could also adapt the emotional journey of the heroic Statesman and the Freedom Phalanx. Alternatively, an anthology exploring the lives of countless heroes and villains in the shadows of figures like Captain Mako and Positron could delve into the concept of a world where everyone can be something more and what it takes to be truly extraordinary. Ultimately, City of Heroes’ intricate original narrative establishes a standard that the biggest comic book adaptations often fail to uphold in recent times. Instead, they frequently succumb to the now tiresome formula and a cultural zeitgeist that City of Heroes could overcome.

If there’s one lesson that City of Heroes teaches, it’s that individuals possess more power than they often realize. However, it lies with them to determine what they fight for, who’s at their side, and who they fight as. The superhero genre extends beyond the realms of Marvel and DC, and from City of Heroes, it’s well-known that it’s more than the heroes people worship; it’s the heroes they create.


In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Captain Marvel battle threats to the Earth and to the universe.


Get ready for a brand new DC experience! The DC Universe (DCU) is coming soon, bringing together familiar comic book heroes in a connected storyline across movies, TV shows, animation, and even video games. It is an upcoming American media franchise and shared universe based on characters from DC Comics publications.

“}]] As the MCU and DCU grapple with declining viewership and superhero fatigue, City of Heroes could make another triumphant return thanks to fans.  Read More