Why Kingdom Hearts 4 needs Marvel superheroes
With Kingdom Hearts 4 on the horizon, it’s time to finally bring Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man and The Avengers into Sora’s ever-expanding world.
Long before Fortnite burst onto the scene with a seemingly endless amount of pop culture collaborations, Kingdom Hearts was the unexpected crossover king of gaming, merging childhood Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin with modern Final Fantasy characters and wrapping it up in a sprawling (and often confusing) story about the darkness of the heart.
Shortly after Disney acquired the rights to Marvel, many Kingdom Hearts fans began to wonder if iconic heroes and villains from the comics would cross over into Square Enix’s beloved franchise. It didn’t happen with the third game (no, we’re not counting Big Hero 6), but with a fourth Kingdom Hearts game on the way, the time is right for a Marvel invasion.
Kingdom Hearts 4 has a visual style that’s perfect for superheroes
Pretty much every Kingdom Hearts game so far has featured that signature goofy, cartoonish visual style, which is part of the reason it’s worked so well with Disney crossovers like Hercules and Toy Story.
The big exceptions to this rule were the Pirates of the Caribbean worlds, which proved that Sora and friends could translate into a more realistic environment – a style that Kingdom Hearts 4 now appears to be leaning into.
With these sleeker, modern Final Fantasy-style graphics, many fans have been wondering how animated classics like The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan will fit in. Well, one potential answer is that they won’t, and Square Enix will instead focus on Disney’s live-action franchises.
A teaser for a Star Wars world has already been spotted in the game’s announcement trailer, so why not Marvel superheroes? Of all the Disney-owned properties, they’d arguably match this new style the best, especially with early footage focusing on the modern city setting of Quadratum.
There are loads of Marvel storylines to choose from
One thing that’s always slightly bothered me with previous Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts is that, for the most part, you’re just playing through a watered-down version of the movie’s plot with added Heartless. It’s fun at first, but the novelty wears off fast.
With Marvel, there are loads of potential storylines that could be mined from the comics to take it beyond just a repeat of the movies we know and love. Even a single superhero like Black Panther or Thor would provide loads of plot points, locations, and villains to choose from.
Spider-Man in particular feels like a really good option – he’s got the same optimistic attitude as Sora, they’re both emerging from their teen years, and watching them take down the likes of Green Goblin or Vulture together while exchanging wisecracks would be a lot of fun.
Another obvious choice would be Guardians of the Galaxy. Assuming that the trusty Gummi Ship makes a return in Kingdom Hearts 4, it would make a lot of sense for Sora to bump into Star-Lord and co while traveling through space to a new location like Knowhere.
Square Enix already has a history with Marvel superheroes
Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura previously explained that the reason Marvel superheroes weren’t featured in the third game boiled down to contract complications – essentially, if characters are set to appear in other video games around the same time, it’s much harder to get them.
After Square Enix featured superheroes like Captain America and Ms. Marvel in their Avengers game in 2020, and later released Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy in 2021, they may be in a good position to convince Disney to let them bring these characters into Kingdom Hearts 4.
Response to Marvel’s Avengers was mixed, sure, but one thing it did get right was the characters, who were fun to play as while honoring the source material. Guardians of the Galaxy gave Square Enix a second chance to prove they could hone the gameplay – and they did.
Bringing these superheroes into Sora’s world, merging the best bits of Square Enix’s Marvel games with the best parts of Kingdom Hearts, could lead to one of the most exciting crossovers in the franchise. Let’s hope Disney and Square Enix can pull it off.