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If Disney wants a live action or animated Kingdom Hearts, the perfect template is already streaming on Disney Plus

Who? You know Who. And Disney should take a very British leaf out of the Doctor's book.

Ncuti Gatwa's face sits in the middle of art from Kingdom Hearts: Sora and Cloud flank the latest Dr Who. In the background, a blurred Disney Plus tile screen.
Image credit: Disney/VG247

The rumor mill is churning, and one of its latest suggestions is one of those concepts so obvious it’s difficult to believe that it hasn’t happened before: a Kingdom Hearts movie.

It was always difficult to imagine how Disney hadn’t adapted its role-playing partnership with Square Enix into another medium. In a post-Spider-Verse world where everyone is thinking about multiversal crossovers all the time, however, it seems like a total head-scratcher. The base concept of Kingdom Hearts - a swashbuckling adventure that takes an original character on a Magic Kingdom style tour of Disney worlds and properties - feels built for this era.

There’s one part of the rumor I’m not vibing with, however - the idea that this is a movie. Allow me to step back for a moment and make a declarative statement as if I’m king of the universe: if there’s some sort of Kingdom Hearts adaptation, it should be a TV show. And the format of that TV show is already in place on Disney Plus.

Let’s not beat around the bush. I’m talking about Doctor Who, obviously. The British series is the longest-running science fiction show in the world, and has recently been triumphantly reborn in a regenerated form while retaining continuity with the 60 years of TV that came before. The show continues to air on the BBC in the UK, but is also now a worldwide co-production with Disney that elsewhere goes out on the Mouse’s streamer.

Doctor Who should be the template for any non-gaming adaptation of Kingdom Hearts. The joy of Kingdom Hearts is in that glorious initial hook - world hopping between Disney worlds you know, meeting characters and ticking off familiar story beats. On its surface, Kingdom Hearts is nostalgia as an art form - but that isn’t what it needs to take from the Doctor’s adventures.

Sora sits on a throne, looking directly into the camera, in a Kingdom Hearts background that is slightly blurred.
What, exactly, would a Kingdom Hearts movie look like? | Image credit: VG247

It’s not really about nostalgia; it’s about freshness. The beauty of Doctor Who is that it resets almost every week. The TARDIS takes off, lands somewhere new, and there’s a thrilling adventure that opens, climaxes, and concludes all within the run-time of an episode or two. Every week is something new and exciting - and this is what Kingdom Hearts needs, not some turgid two-hour movie retelling the Keyblade Saga, or whatever.

The time for such a show is honestly utterly perfect. Be it animated or live action, as a service Disney Plus feels like the perfect vehicle for Kingdom Hearts. Sora and his Gummi Ship could become the connective tissue tying all of the content on the service together, blasting off from the ‘world’ of one show or movie to another week-by-week. If live-action, such a show could make use of Disney’s Volume, and of the standing sets that exist for programmes like the Star Wars and Marvel offerings.

It would be a mistake, I posit, to create something with too heavy an over-arching narrative. That sort of thing can be successful - ABC’s Once Upon a Time told a winding story across seven seasons that bought together versions of characters like Snow White, Robin Hood, Cinderella, and Captain Hook ran for seven seasons and now also has its home on Disney Plus. But Kingdom Hearts should truly lean into its world-hopping nature and create something that you can watch every week or watch any week, light on the continuity, but big on the fun.

"The Pooh copyright has expired," whispers Rabbit.

There’d still be space for some of Kingdom Hearts’ labyrinthine plots, of course - but the main purpose of the show should be a neat, fun, and accessible adventure-of-the-week romp. The tone of Doctor Who, too, is ideal for Kingdom Hearts: accessible and effervescent for kids, but with a winking smirk to the adults also tuning in for a dose of nostalgia.

And who knows - with the Doctor finding his worldwide home on Disney Plus, perhaps the TARDIS and the Gummi Ship can fly alongside each other one day? The Doctor meeting Donald Duck, canonically Square Enix’s most powerful mage - that’s something I’d keep my subscription to see.


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