When Kingdom Hearts II was released, Disney had yet to acquire Marvel, Lucasfilm, or even Pixar. But with all three now fully under the Disney umbrella, along with a well of prior Disney features waiting to be culled from, Kingdom Hearts III has the biggest possible swath of franchises to introduce.
The tale of original protagonist Sora, along with Disney stalwarts Donald and Goofy, is set to continue in the upcoming, long-awaited threequel. Kingdom Hearts II debuted in 2006 and brought Mulan, Tron, and other franchises into the Kingdom Hearts fold (for more on those worlds, check out EW’s ranking of the sequels foray into Disney). Tangled and Big Hero 6 are already set to debut in the upcoming sequel, along with several returning worlds, but there’s plenty of more room for Sora and the crew to pilot their Gummi Ship to other corners of the Disney pantheon.
With that in mind, read on for our choices for the worlds EW would most like to see added to the next major entry in the Kingdom Hearts saga… whenever that may be.
It almost seems like a given Kingdom Hearts III will have a Frozen world, but that doesn’t make the prospect any less exciting. With a sequel on the way and the original one of Disney’s most successful movies of all time, there’s plenty of potential for Arendelle to find its way into the game. Elsa’s ice castle could easily become a playable locale, with Marshmallow turned evil as a mini-boss in the level (it would fit with the Dark Baymax appearing in the Big Hero 6 level). And if Kingdom Hearts expands its its inclusion of Disney princesses — the first game’s central narrative was directly focused on them — it only makes sense to bring in two of the most popular new additions to that vaulted group.
The lack of Pixar in Sora’s journey feels almost criminal, even if Pixar only officially joined Disney after Kingdom Hearts II debuted. But the themes of friendship, maturing, and the game’s penchant for grand adventures all perfectly fit the Pixar thematic mold. While most of the studio’s franchises are good options, it’s difficult to imagine Toy Story not being at the top of any Kingdom Hearts wish list. Imagine Sora, Donald, and Goofy shrinking down to toy size, interacting with Woody, Buzz, and Bo Peep to the fight against Heartless designed to look like childhood toys. The perspective shift would give the developers a chance to play with the world (like they did with the Alice in Wonderland level all the way back in the original Kingdom Hearts) while finally injecting the Pixar charm into the series.
Okay, so… not that much is known about Moana at this point. But, assuming the movie comes out before the game, the world may have found its latest beloved Disney princess who deserves a Kingdom Hearts spotlight. And if the game needs another musical interlude like The Little Mermaid’s Atlantica was in Kingdom Hearts II, it would be a shame to see the series throw away its shot at including the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Plus, imagining Sora hanging out with a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-voiced character is the closest we’ll get to Fast and Furious being brought into the fold.
Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy
Considering what Marvel has coming soon, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy seem like the most likely candidates for the Marvel Cinematic Universe coming to the franchise. Without having to worry about recreating any Earth-bound locations, the developers are free to play with the alien structures of Asgard and other worlds or the spaceships, Knowhere, and other planets of Guardians. Considering Sora and his crew fly around space on the Gummi Ship, having an accidental run-in with the Milano could offer a fun surprising diversion from the story — and, thanks to Rocket Raccoon, probably teach Donald a few new PG-13-rated words. (It may be weird to see some of the franchise’s live-action characters adapted to the game, but this is the franchise that found a place for Captain Jack Sparrow in Kingdom Hearts II.)
The Jungle Book
Another cross-promotion opportunity with the live-action Jungle Book coming this year, Disney could certainly play into the property’s resurgence with a full level in Kingdom Hearts 3. Kingdom Hearts saw a Tarzan world, and Kingdom Hearts II had The Lion King, so it’s not a huge stretch for a third wildnerness-themed level if Square Enix wants to continue that trend. Throw in Baloo as a new sidekick and Shere Khan as the world’s villain, and you’ve got another chance to send Sora, Donald, and Goofy on a wild adventure.
Monster-inspired Heartless. Doors that open up to any number of other Disney or Square Enix worlds. Whatever the Mike Wazowski-Donald Duck relationship would look like. Monsters Inc. offers the developers plenty of material to experiment with, branching out from the Monsters, Inc. factory with any number of Disney and Pixar homages. Randall Boggs is just the kind of Disney villain who would be seduced by the power of the Heartless, anyway, and as far as Pixar franchises go, Monsters, Inc. offers one of the more colorful opportunities in the Pixar portfolio.
So a Muppets world might not actually work — behind the scenes of The Muppet Show? — but seeing Sora, Donald, and Goofy flopping around like puppets would be a series high-point for character transformations. Some of the Muppets should at least be included as summons to aid Sora in battle. Fozzie deals damage with corny jokes, Gonzo unleashes an army of chickens against the Heartless, Rolf… really bums all the enemies out. Almost any of the more popular Muppets has a useful combat option, and while Disney continues to figure out where the future of the Muppets lies, keeping them alive in interactive form couldn’t hurt.
Listen, we’d all love Star Wars to be included. Star Wars probably won’t be included. But if it were to be? Pod racing mini-world with Jar Jar Binks as a new partner character for Sora would be the obvious way to go.