Soldier: 76 is one of the first Overwatch heroes we ever got to see or play, and he’s always carried with him the notion that his ‘hero days’ were in the past. We’ve known for some time that his name is John ‘Jack’ Morrison, and now we know his middle name. It’s Francis.
Overwatch’s lead writer Michael Chu answered a fan’s question about the middle name on Twitter this past week. One of Soldier: 76’s legendary skins is the Rambo-esque Commando: 76, which displays a pair of military dog tags worn around Morrison’s neck. There’s the indication of a middle name on the tags, but it’s illegible when you look at the skin in-game, and fans asked Chu what it’s meant to say.
“Francis,” he responded, without going into any further detail.
That could be the whole story, but I got to wondering why Chu and the Overwatch writing team picked the name. Soldier: 76 was a character design by former Blizzard senior vice president of story and franchise development Chris Metzen, who explained last year that his inspirations for 76’s name come from American Western actor John Wayne and Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors.
There aren’t a whole lot of famous figures named Francis, and we can probably rule out Francis Bacon and Pope Francis as inspirations for the rough-and-tumble 76. However, it’s not like John Wayne and Jim Morrison are all that similar, so potentially any Francis or Frank could conceivably be who Chu and the team were thinking of. But here’s my theory.
Both John Wayne and The Doors are throwbacks to bygone eras – even more bygone by the time the events of Overwatch. One famous Francis, who is also a clear throwback to a specific era in American culture, is Frankie Avalon.
Born Francis Thomas Avellone, Frankie Avalon rose to fame as a teen pop idol, first showing up on network TV playing trumpet on a Jackie Gleason sketch in 1952. Later he landed some roles in movies, including – and here’s the key link – the character Smitty in 1960’s The Alamo. It’s a film about the historical Battle of the Alamo, during which a small band of Texans sacrificed their lives in a hopeless fight against a far stronger force. The actor who played Davy Crockett in that film? John Wayne.
As both an actor and a musician, Frankie Avalon bridges the gap between Wayne and Morrison. And for a bonus, U.S. Route 66 (the setting for one of Overwatch’s original maps) runs through Amarillo, Texas.
Hey, there could be any explanation – or none whatsoever – for 76’s middle name. But I think this one fits the bill pretty well.
Top image via ArtStation