Overwatch was a bold experiment in global peacekeeping, but the pressures of its mission ultimately got the better of it. The organization fell apart after several forces combined to make it untenable. Here are the five biggest factors that led to Overwatch's ultimate failure.
1. Rivalry Between Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes
At the core of Overwatch's internal conflict was the friendship and rivalry between Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes, later known as Soldier: 76 and Reaper, respectively.
Although Reyes was the first head of Overwatch, he was passed over in favor of Morrison when the organization transitioned out of its role in the first Omnic Crisis. That led to simmering tensions that would course through the organization for years, building as Reyes' Blackwatch performed extralegal activities.
The rivalry ended in a mysterious explosion at Overwatch's Swiss headquarters that appeared to kill both men, quickly followed by the UN's official dissolution of Overwatch.
2. The Venice Incident
Blackwatch was created to be the covert operations arm of Overwatch, but eight years before the current Overwatch moment the team majorly overstepped its bounds. After an attack on an Overwatch facility in Oslo, Norway, Gabriel Reyes leads Genji, Moira and McCree to capture the man responsible: Antonio Bartalotti.
When the Blackwatch strike team reached Bartalotti, Reyes decided it better to kill him than to capture him only for his allies to bail him out. The extrajudicial killing and the ensuing violence became Overwatch's most high profile blunder, setting massive international pressure against it.
3. Null Sector Uprising
A year after the Venice mission went awry, Omnic extremists called Null Sector kidnapped Omnic monk and peacemaker Tekhartha Mondatta, the mayor of London, and a hundred civilians. Ignoring directives from the UK prime minister and UN Director Petras, Morrison sent Reinhardt, Tracer, Mercy and Torbjörn to intervene.
Though the mission was a success, it represented another example of Overwatch acting outside its jurisdiction, making the countries of the world wary of its power. International pressure continued to mount.
4. Death of Gérard Lacroix
Though not an original member of Overwatch, Gérard Lacroix played an important part in its operations for many years. He was a close friend to both Morrison and Reyes, among others, and worked behind the scenes to keep the organization running.
When his wife, Amélie Lacroix, was kidnapped by Talon, it shook Overwatch to its core. Overwatch managed to retrieve Amélie, but not before she had undergone extensive neural reconditioning, turning her into a sleeper agent. Two weeks after her return to Overwatch, Amélie killed her husband in his sleep and returned to Talon, where she became Widowmaker.
Gérard's loss further destabilized Overwatch, both in the fact of his death and in the loss of a mediating voice in the growing conflict between Morrison and Reyes.
5. Assumed Death of Ana Amari
The final loss Overwatch sustained before its dissolving occurred during a hostage rescue mission. While providing cover for Morrison, Ana Amari came face to face with another sniper of preternatural abilities. Though Ana fired the first shot, she hesitated to finish the kill when she saw her opponent to be Amélie Lacroix, now returned as Widowmaker.
Widowmaker capitalized on Ana's hesitation and returned fire, badly wounding Ana. Rather than own up to her failure, Ana chose to disappear, leading Overwatch to believe her dead. As another foundational element of the organization, her loss put Overwatch on the brink of collapse.
That collapse was completed later that year, as Morrison and Reyes had their climactic falling out and the UN dismantled Overwatch completely.
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Photos courtesy of Blizzard