The Kingdom Hearts series has become immensely popular with gamers around the world thanks to its charming blend of iconic Disney characters and iconic Final Fantasy heroes. The Disney and Square Enix crossover managed to make a big splash at the start of 2019 with the release of Kingdom Hearts 3, which introduced additional cinematic worlds of Pixar, such as Toy Story and Big Hero 6, into the series for this highly anticipated next installment. But with so much changing for Disney over the last few years, with the company ultimately buying the Marvel universe and Star Wars galaxy, fans have wondered and hoped that they’d get to play with one at least of these iconic universes in the next Kingdom Hearts game. But here’s the hardcore truth fans need to know. Kingdom Hearts doesn’t need to implement Star Wars or Marvel into the games, not when it has the diverse and deep worlds of Pixar at its disposal.
If there’s one thing the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 proved, it’s how well the Pixar films and their characters mesh, with the craziness of the series. The colorful 3D visuals of different films allow Kingdom Hearts characters like Sora, Riku, and Kairi to feel like they look right at home standing next to characters like Baymax, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear. But beyond that, the lightheartedness of the stories and dynamic personalities of the Pixar characters make great partners for the storytelling that Kingdom Hearts is known for, including the darker or wackier moments fans have come to love. The interactions between Sora and crew with the various toy side characters from the Toy Story films gives a fun amount of fan service, but is interesting enough to keep fans watching as the events play out.
So where do Marvel and Star Wars fit into all of this? The answer is simply that they don’t, at least as of right now. The popularity of both franchises is undeniable and would probably lead to a lot of excitement should they be included into the next Kingdom Hearts game. But when you have the very adaptable and unique catalogue of Pixar films at your disposal, how can you ignore that? The biggest challenge for bringing Marvel and Star Wars into the games would be giving players something new while maintaining the essence of the worlds of both. Most of the Kingdom Hearts games do this well by retreading the stories and characters from the respective films featured, which would be ideal for both Marvel and Star Wars worlds. However, the Pixar worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 are different since they don’t retell the same stories of their respective films, but instead make a pseudo-sequel to what has already come before them. Fans can know that the events of the Pixar movies already happened and what they’re seeing is a totally new and original series of events.
Having Marvel or Star Wars in Kingdom Hearts would not allow this same treatment to be possible, mainly because of the controlling nature Disney has on their films. We’d more than likely get an abridged version of Luke Skywalker’s story in a Star Wars world, or even a super quick version of the Avengers coming together in a Marvel world based on their respective movies. An example of this can be seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean world within Kingdom Hearts 3, which follows a very watered down and rushed version of the third film of the Pirates series. Though the visuals are absolutely fantastic, the content of the stories you play through are nowhere near as interesting or strong as the ones players experience in the Pixar centric worlds. It’s a radically different kind of story when Sora and company meet up with Baymax in Big Hero 6 than when they meet up with Jack Sparrow.
But what other Pixar films could fans really enjoy in the same way if we shouldn’t have any worlds based on Star Wars or Marvel super heroes? Luckily for everyone there’s a wide pool of films that Square Enix can pull from to build unique and interesting worlds for a new Kingdom Hearts game. Films like The Incredibles, Wall-E, A Bug’s Life, Inside Out, and many others in the Pixar catalogue are all interesting and creative places the series can go. Much of the Kingdom Hearts series is about the power of friendship and self-discovery over time, which could be amazing themes explored alongside and of these worlds’ characters. It’s extra layers of stuff like this that allow Kingdom Hearts to give more to players in the games outside of simply having certain characters show up to party. With Marvel and Star Wars there just isn’t enough room for creativity to allow those kinds of worlds to stand out beyond just being there for a short time. It’s very doubtful we’d see Luke Skywalker or Rey give Sora any interesting insight outside of the power of the force and why the dark side is bad, which are things already covered by the Kingdom Hearts series multiple times in its own way. It’s also doubtful we would see anything really interesting for fans from Sora crossing paths with Iron Man, outside of maybe Robert Downey Jr. making fun of Sora for using a giant key as a weapon (as funny as that might be).
There’s just so much more the Kingdom Hearts series can benefit from by implementing more Pixar films into the games rather than forcing in Star Wars or Marvel. The series doesn’t need to have something injected into it for the sake of popularity, especially when the games themselves are already popular utilizing Disney and Pixar properties that aren’t as well-known as either Marvel or Star Wars. The new stories that can be told and the new interactions we get within the Pixar worlds can be creatively interesting and fun to play through, especially with the many films that have yet to be tapped for future Kingdom Hearts games. Soas great as it might be to see Star Wars and Marvel heroes interacting with our favorite Kingdom Hearts characters, it’s not something that we, or the series, desperately needs right now.