Like many of you, I am a big fan of both Nintendo-developed video games, and the recent decade of connected universe Marvel superhero movies. I was never a huge reader of the comics, but now I occasionally do deep dives on Wikipedia learning about characters that might be coming up in future movies just to get a feel for who they are and what their deal is. It's research!
So a movie called The Eternals is coming sometime after Avengers Endgame... but until today I knew next to nothing about the team of superhumans who essentially live forever and protect Earth. I have no idea where they've been during all these movies so far, but that's gonna change.
Anyway, what do Thanos and the MCU have in common with Nintendo? As my lore nerding has uncovered, the answer is Starfox.
Starfox is a superhero created by Marvel, who first appeared back in 1973, a full twenty years ahead of the first Star Fox game being released. The dude is Thanos' brother, and at least in the comics his whole deal is that, when Thanos attacks Earth, he finally realises that he needs to take things a bit more seriously. And no, he is not an anthropomorphic fox starship pilot, though I guess both do spend a great deal of their time out in space, so there's that.
This is recent comics appearance of Starfox (art by Mike Deodato Jr. and Frank Martin).
While Starfox isn't currently a major part of the MCU, there's every chance he will become so over the next few years of movies. And he was a good opportunity to look back over the history of the name Star Fox, and how two companies on separate sides of the world ended up with the same one.
If we go right back to before the original Star Fox was released, Nintendo's Miyamoto claims he first got the idea for the name by watching a kids football team playing called the Inari Foxes, and the idea of a fox-based name for a game sort of just stuck with him. Other fun trivia: the puppet designs on the original game cover were inspired by Thunderbirds, which adds a really nice layer of additional meaning to that E3 where they started the show off with Star Fox puppets.
For us in the UK Star Fox on the SNES was, of course, released under the name Star Wing, which isn't half as good. I did wonder whether this was an even more concrete link to Thanos's bro, but Dylan Cuthbert told Nintendo Life it was down to a similar-sounding German company (and as one of the original developers, he should probably know).
I can’t be sure but I seem to remember vaguely someone at Nintendo telling me that there was a company or something called StarVox in Germany, and because 'F' is pronounced like a 'V' there they had to change the name to avoid confusion.
I think by the time the Star Fox Command and Star Fox 3D came out the company was defunct or perhaps the lawyers simply decided that there was no product confusion any more.
The only story I know is the 'StarVox' one, because it was an interesting problem - which is why I remember it.
This story has apparently been verified by others within Nintendo, and paints an interesting picture of the company being more concerned about confusion with a German company than some comic book superhero. It shows how times have changed, because I suspect as soon as Marvel has Starfox in a major budget superhero film, Nintendo will become a lot more aware of this brand overlap.
Starfox on the big screen, eh: what a thought. Whenever it happens, I just hope he doesn't have a little toad sidekick who spends the whole movie demanding a barrel roll.