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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Top 12 Disney Infinity Characters We Didn't Get

Edited by Robert Beach 

By now, you may have heard that Disney Infinity, the thoroughly popular Disney video game franchise, is being discontinued. If you’ve never heard of it before, Disney Infinity was a bold experiment from the Mouse House to get in on the growing trend of toys integrated into video games. The concept (selling kids action figures that also act as playable characters in a video game) originated with Skylanders before Disney picked up on it, and now even Nintendo has gotten in on the act. 

Previously, when a Disney adventure like this failed, it was an indication of the companies plan to purchase a more successful iteration of the same concept; the way the failure of Disney’s boy brand action films prompted them to buy Marvel and Star Wars. While some have speculated this will happen again, that’s not today’s subject. Today, we mourn the Disney Infinity characters we’ll never get to see now that the line is discontinued. Let the requisitely somber top 12 list commence. 

One of the exciting things about Disney Infinity’s more recent crop of figures was that they were actually starting to delve into the collection of Disney's 2D animated characters as well as the 3D and Pixar well. So far, characters like Stitch, Aladdin, and Mulan had all made it to Disney Infinity. In that spirit, Hercules would’ve been an absolute blast to see brought in. I know that his animated feature is one of the less well-regarded entries in the Disney renaissance, but whatever else you might say about the film, it was visually incredibly striking.  

Seriously, the visual conception of the Greek Gods in Disney’s Hercules was one of the most vibrant and unique depictions we’ve ever seen, and it blew a lot of modern iterations like Clash of the Titans or Immortals out of the water. Getting the chance to throw Hercules into the Disney Infinity stew, complete with elements of his unique visual world, would be really cool, especially if we’d have gotten to see him meet up with Thor from the Marvel characters. 

Speaking of Marvel characters, when Disney Infinity first pulled the trigger on bringing in Marvel heroes, they didn’t just draw from the movies. They also pulled from the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.  Part of that series set-up was that Spider-Man fought alongside a team of 4 younger heroes under the stewardship of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.  2 of those 4 heroes (Iron Fist and Nova) have already made it into Disney Infinity, but there’s really no reason Luke Cage shouldn’t have made the jump too.  

Aside from Black Panther, Luke Cage is THE premiere black hero of the Marvel universe. He’s got a Netflix show coming out this fall that’ll probably be huge, and he was already introduced to a whole generation of kids with a dope costume. In a time when representation and diversity in media is placed at such a premium, adding Luke Cage would’ve been an easy win in that department and a nice bit of cross promotion. 

A good rule of thumb, in any given list that involves Star Wars characters, Lando is probably going to make the cut with me. Lando Calrissian is simply one of the greatest Star Wars characters of all time. Incredibly smooth and suave, uniquely conflicted but ultimately heroic, a man of modest origins who rose to a position of immense power, there’s nothing about him that doesn’t rock. Plus, Lando wears a cape, and capes are awesome. Right there, that’s a great reason to throw him in. 

In all seriousness, there really are not a ton of Star Wars heroes worth adapting to the Disney Infinity format. Most of them worthy enough were already covered. It’s only a matter of time before Lando pops up on Star Wars: Rebels and having a Disney Infinity figure come out in the wake of that would’ve worked perfectly. Plus, like Luke Cage, putting Lando in Disney Infinity would just be an easy and welcome win for diversity, which is always a good thing. 

This is a choice so incredibly obvious I’m honestly shocked it didn’t make one of the release sets already.  Maybe Disney planned to hold off and release an Indy in line with their alleged plans for a 5th movie, but I guess that’ll never happen now. It’s possible the people behind Disney Infinity just thought the game’s fans wouldn’t know Indy as I’m not sure how much clout the Indiana Jones films currently have with younger audiences. At the same time, I’m not sure how many youngsters are big fans of Maleficent or Disney’s Aladdin.  

My point is it’s clear the developers weren’t just aiming for kids to buy up Disney Infinity figures. I guarantee an Indiana Jones collectible would’ve been a major seller. Additionally, Indy fits into the same unique bracket as Hercules in that his world is so visually unique and vibrant. That pulp adventure set-up, a great playset all on its own, is certainly more worthy than say the Lone Ranger (who did totally get a figure). 

Speaking of characters that appeal to older players, Goliath from Disney’s Gargoyles would fit that perfectly. In case you missed it, Gargoyles was a fairly popular animated series in the ‘90s that pushed the envelope for the standards of animation and storytelling in the medium. It’s one of those great ‘90s animated series like Batman The Animated Series that’s become a serious touchstone for kids who grew up in that era, much like Aladdin, Mulan, and Lilo & Stitch.  

There was a rumor circulating for a long while too that Disney wanted to revive the Gargoyles franchise with Marvel at the helm, which, if true, could be a major hit. Busting out a Goliath figure on Disney Infinity would’ve been a great way to test those waters, and it would’ve undoubtedly made its money back given the dedication of grown-up Disney fans from the ‘90s. 

As I alluded to earlier, the Disney Infinity Star Wars stuff has really emphasized the heroes and, by this point, has pretty much exhausted that particular well of possibilities. Conversely, they’ve only done about 3 bad guys, so it seems like an area they should really start digging into. For that reason, Count Dooku is a really good start.  

Though Dooku wasn’t the biggest threat in the actual movies, he became a major staple of the Star Wars: Clone Wars show; and that show is the main reason Star Wars fandom persisted through the entire prequel era.  Throwing Dooku into Disney Infinity would’ve been a nice addition for the fans of the series, much like Anakin and Ashoka were as well as a pretty nice tribute to the late, great Christopher Lee. 

This one is decidedly preemptive, but it’s certainly something they should’ve been digging into. As we barrel full speed into Marvel Phase 3 and the original Avengers like Iron Man and Captain America are wrapping up their time in the spotlight, new heroes like Spider-Man and Black Panther are moving into the spotlight. And one of the biggest ones headed our way is Captain Marvel.  

She’s halfway between Superman and Wonder Woman, an incredibly powerful being and the premiere hero of the entire Marvel universe; someone that’s looked up to in a way that only a handful of heroes in-universe ever really are. Given her popularity and the fact that Marvel’s teeing her up to be the next big thing in the MCU, having her get a spot at the Disney Infinity buffet would’ve been a real win all around. 

File this choice in the “it never would’ve happened, but imagine how cool it would’ve been if it did?” category. A couple of Tron: Legacy figures had already managed to find their way into the Disney Infinity, specifically Quorra and Sam Flynn. Those characters are certainly cool, yet they’re not the same as if Tron himself managed to get in on the action. Sure, Tron didn’t really get in on the action in Tron Legacy, though throwing around a classic Tron Figure would be a real treat for fans. Again, it’s not like Disney Infinity was avoiding pandering to the 30-year-old geeks of the world. 

What’s more, the idea of classic character design and figures certainly fits into the entire idea of collectible figures that informs the entire Disney Infinity aesthetic. I mean, Nintendo has turned pixel art versions of their Amiibos into big business, so there’s no reason it couldn’t work the same way for Disney Infinity. 

Like Hercules, I’m aware Pocahontas isn’t one of the better-loved Disney renaissance movies out there. I wouldn’t necessarily fault the characters or the art style. Pocahontas’ movie may have been a whitewashing of a whole genocide, but it at least looked fantastic. Pocahontas herself was a pretty enjoyable hero. Maybe it’s just my nostalgia talking; I did grow up with Disney movies in the ‘90s. 

I feel like if she did make her way into the Disney Infinity Universe, it’d be pretty well received. Additionally, like Hercules, the art style, color, and world of Pocahontas would make for a really vibrant and cool playground for people to play around in, which was the entire point of the game. 

Another Star Wars bad guy who never really got his due in the films but made it a significantly popular splash in the Clone Wars animated series.  Disregarding whatever you thought about Grievous in Revenge of the Sith, his unique design and abilities are pretty awesome and cool/appealing villains have always been a big part of why the Star Wars series is so popular. 

What’s more, Disney Infinity is, at its heart, a video game. The mechanics of Grievous’ robot arms and body would make for a great system of gameplay. Plus, it’d be an excuse to let you throw around 4 different lightsabers at once. And Star Wars does seem to run off the “more lightsabers = more awesome” philosophy. 

Speaking of cool mechanics to play around with, Scarlet Witch’s telekinetic abilities would make for dynamite gameplay in the wide-open sandbox/toybox nature of Disney Infinity. Also, I feel like Scarlet Witch’s popularity has significantly increased since her appearance in Captain America: Civil War gave her some more unique characterization and played around with her abilities. 

The bottom line here is the other Avengers have gotten their day in the Disney Infinity spotlight, so it’s a real shame that Scarlet Witch will never get her chance to stand alongside her fellow heroes. 

And one final nostalgic throwback to round off the list. Darkwing Duck is a lot like Goliath in the realm of ‘90s animated nostalgic TV only infinitely more popular. Seriously, even as a dedicated Gargoyles fan, Darkwing Duck was exponentially more popular; that popularity is still very much around today, especially with the Gen X/Y folks who are sporting the disposable income to throw around and prop up stuff like Disney Infinity. What’s more, he’d just be great a character to throw around with all the other crazy heroes and villains in the Disney Infinity sandbox. 

That was what made Disney Infinity so great. It was a place of unlimited crossover potential where heroes and villains from across decades and decades of material could interact. Do you want to see Captain America meet Luke Skywalker meet Mr. Incredible? You can totally do that there. Who knows what the future holds for Disney interactives, but here’s hoping we see something similar in the near future.
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