We live in a world where a story can have both an established canon and a “fanon”. That is, a narrative created by fans of a show or comic — in this case, the video game Overwatch — that isn’t official, but still a popular canon among the fans. Overwatch with its diverse roster of heroes has a built-in advantage as these “headcanons” as they’re sometimes referred to, often compensate for a lack of diversity.
“Headcanons” could range anywhere from creating romantic relationships between specific characters, speculating on a character’s sexuality or gender, to even just whether or not a certain character is just an asshole in-universe. Overwatch is not immune to this wonderful offshoot of fandom culture, and as a result provided a trove of popularly accepted headcanons for the various characters in the game.
Ana Amari: Overprotective Mother
Ana Amari is a new character to Overwatch and hasn’t even been released beyond an initial beta for PC players. That didn’t stop the collective imaginations of the Overwatch fandom from running wild. Thanks to the revelation that she is the ex-military mother of an existing hero, Pharah; as well as the fact that she is a support character who heals other players, the idea of an overprotective mother instantly came to life.
Ana as a stern but protective mother actually fits into a larger fan narrative that the cast of Overwatch often interact with each other as an extended family. As an elderly (but kickass) matriarch, Ana found an open position in the Overwatch “Family”.
D. VA: Gremlin
Perhaps the most infamous of the fanworks to have come out of Overwatch is the fan transformation of the character D. VA into a stylized “gremlin”. Her backstory as a professional gamer from South Korea led many fans to equate her to the stereotypical “gamer” archetypes that involved long, introverted hours playing video games, eating Doritos, and chugging copious amounts of Mountain Dew.
Additionally, due to popular interpretation, she has effectively become the spoiled child of the Overwatch family, a theme that will reappear several times in the fan community.
Possibly a result of the fact that the two characters are a popular duo to play as thanks to their combined strength as a battle unit, offense character Pharah and support medic Mercy have been widely adopted as a popular online couple. That’s a normal result of “shipping” or the romantic pairing of two characters who aren’t canonically in a relationship. The couple is given a humorous dynamic as the two are also often presented as the overburdened mothers of their gaming-obsessed daughter, D. VA who is added to form a family unit that honestly feels a little depressing considering the trouble D. VA is often presented as causing.
Honestly this list could have been populated entirely by the different romantic pairings generated by the Overwatch fan community. This one however is by far the most popular, even being acknowledged to a certain extent by Blizzard during their weekly playlist where players could only play as either Pharah or Mercy.
Soldier 76: Dad
Like Ana, Soldier 76 is regarded as a somewhat paternal figure within the Overwatch community as a result of his aged appearance and gruff military manner. The only thing that separates Soldier 76 from Ana is that as a dad he is given the additional trait of succumbing to lame “Dad jokes”. As such, he’s been interpreted as being pretty lame, but a lovable father.
Designed to evoke that one kid in high school who dressed in all-black and had a morbid fascination with gothic themes, Reaper is a character who calls himself that without irony. So fans decide to make it ironic and actually characterize him as that same kid he seems to have been modeled after. Playing Naruto after school and lamenting the bright cheery nature of his peers, Reaper has been turned into a moribund teen goth. But in a fun way.
Mercy as Troubled Dr. Frankenstein
Possibly the darkest of the fan theories, this one is actually kind of plausible within the game’s ambiguous canon. The actual backstory behind characters like Soldier 76 and Reaper are that they were once normal units of Overwatch before a terrible tragedy left them both for dead. Jack Morrison became the revived but badly damaged Soldier 76, while Gabriel Reyes became the undead Reaper.
What isn’t known is how exactly they were revived from near-death and fans speculate that this a result of the team’s medic, Angela Ziegler aka Mercy. As a result of her botched attempts at a prototype resurrection technology, which is a skill she has in-game, Mercy was able to bring back Morrison and Reyes but only as former versions of themselves.
While it’s not officially confirmed, Overwatch is playing coy. Part of this is due to the fact that Blizzard is still working on the game’s internal history as it goes. Still, the development company is clearly aware of the fan community their massively popular game has gathered. While the company is notoriously strict with how their IP is handled by fans, there is no reason to not to suspect that Blizzard will incorporate some of these fan narratives as easter eggs into the game in coming updates.