Since the inception of the Kingdom Hearts series, the game has relied heavily on Disney as a source of the game’s levels. Over the years, we’ve seen levels based on everything from The Nightmare Before Christmas and Aladdin to Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron. It doesn’t matter if a property is rooted in live action or animation; Square Enix has managed to take Disney property after Disney property and turn it into a magical level for the series.
In the time since the series started Disney’s portfolio of properties has grown quite a bit. In addition to creating all new properties, they’ve also had several major acquisitions. The two biggest buys Disney has had in the last ten years have been Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd. Each of these purchases added a plethora of intellectual property to Disney’s already vast collection.
The purchase of Marvel alone opened the gateway to characters like Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, and a host of others for Disney. The acquisition of Lucasfilm added Star Wars and Indiana Jones, just to name two. Given these large purchases, it’s been hotly debated amongst fans on whether Square Enix should tap into these recent additions to add new worlds into the Kingdom Hearts series, or if worlds in the game should be restricted to more traditional Disney properties.
I’ve given a lot of thought to this over the last few years and I’ve come up with ways that this could work, ways that it wouldn’t work, and even one option that Disney probably won’t consider tapping for at least a few more years.
Square Enix is adding Marvel to the Kingdom Hearts games already, though not in the way most would expect. When I think of adding Marvel into the franchise I always imagined that it would somehow tie into Marvel’s the Avengers, as the battle with the aliens at the end of that film lends itself nicely to the general design of a Kingdom Hearts villain. With how much the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been developed since then, I no longer feel that’s the best way to do things.
What Square Enix is doing is adding in a level based on the movie Big Hero 6. The film is, in turn, loosely based on a Marvel comic book of the same name. That means that Marvel will be in the next Kingdom Hearts game; it just won’t be as “in your face” as having Iron Man and Thor teaming up with Sora to take on some seemingly insurmountable task.
Still, putting San Fransokyo in the game is a great way to start things going in the right direction. The choice Square Enix will then have to make is how to proceed if they opt to move deeper into the world of Marvel comic books. Given how vast the settings of the films are, they have limitless options here.
With the way Kingdom Hearts has developed over the years, it may be best to pair them up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. While Guardians exists inside the same universe as Marvel’s the Avengers, the Earth and cosmic based teams have yet to meet. If a Marvel level were to take place anywhere on Earth, Donald and Goofy would surely turn heads even in a universe where superheroes are considered an everyday thing. What the cosmic setting of Guardians would give Donald and Goofy is a sense of normalcy, considering that is a setting where aliens are common (and we’ve now twice seen Howard the Duck).
Another route that could be taken to protect the characters from blowing their cover in the Marvel universe, or more correctly our universe, would be to send them to Asgard to fight alongside Thor. Both settings leave plenty of great opportunities for Keyblades that Sora can wield. What Asgard lacks, however, is an identifiable group of allies that children and casual fans would be able to identify. The one thing that has been a constant with all of Sora’s allies though the course of the Kingdom Hearts games is that his allies have always been key characters. Outside of Thor, it’s hard to find many more in Asgard.
If Sora and company were to travel to a setting where they are paired with the Guardians, you have a team of five highly identifiable and child-loved characters including Star Lord, Groot, Rocket, Gamora, and Drax. The Guardians of the Galaxy have been a hot property since the first movie was released and their appearances have spanned cartoons, video games, and comic books. Pairing Sora with the Guardians of the Galaxy would be a winning combination for sure.
Looking at the Star Wars side of things opens up limitless possibilities, but is also much easier to narrow down given Disney’s current priorities with the galaxy far, far away. Rey and Finn are the two new faces of the franchise and it’s an absolute certainty that any levels added to Kingdom Hearts that feature Star Wars in any capacity will have to feature both characters as Sora’s allies.
Where a story like this could take place is also hard to pin down but it would likely be in one of the newer worlds that have been created for the franchise, like Jakku or D’Qar. It’s hard to say any one location from The Force Awakens was nearly as iconic as the planets that have served as the backdrop to the franchise over the last forty years, but in time these planets will grow in popularity.
One alternative but less likely option would be to put the gang in the world of Star Wars Rebels, as the Ralph McQuarrie-inspired animated series already has a very game-like look. Given that the show is getting ready to head into its final season, it’s hard to give Disney or Square Enix much reason to push this universe further. However it would serve as an awesome way to dip their toes into using Star Wars in upcoming games in the series.
Either way a Star Wars level is something that must be done in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3, if only because a Keyblade lightsaber is the kind of thing a geek like me has only dreamed about up to this point. With both franchises being under the same Disney owned banner this is one that I will refuse to back down on.
The final major property that Disney now has the rights to, that you don’t see mentioned often in the conversation at all, is the Indiana Jones franchise. Disney has made it clear that they want to revive that franchise, but for now I can’t find a single reason to even try and justify including Dr. Jones in the adventures of Sora. Although, considering they put Tron in Kingdom Hearts 2, anything is possible.
Truth be told, we may or may not see Square Enix go down any of these routes. It’s safe to say that they’ve known for a while where they want the series to go and what worlds they most want to play with, but as fans it never hurts to dream. If Square Enix doesn’t utilize these new properties it’s not the end of the world but if they do it could be fantastic.
Do you think Square Enix should add Marvel worlds and Star Wars into Kingdom Hearts or should they stick to traditional Disney properties? Let us know in the comments below!