Disney just announced a sweet bundle for their upcoming Disney+ streaming service: $13.99 a month gets you Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. It’s a nice deal, but I was honestly prepared to take out a 2nd mortgage in order to watch The Mandalorian and the FIVE new Marvel television shows that Kevin Fiege announced at Comic Con.
Marvel announced 10 projects for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), all being released before the end of 2021. Of those, five aren’t cinematic in the “cinema” definition of the term: they are shows on Disney+.
Yes, Phase 4 of the MCU will have the metal Thor: Love and Thunder, but it will also will have projects like WandaVision, an original series featuring Scarlet Witch and Vision. So, how will this work?
First, they are rumored to tie deeply with the movies. Does “tie-in” mean movie audiences will need to watch Disney+ shows in order to understand what they are seeing on the big screen? I highly doubt that.
But it’s clear that Marvel Studios is looking to create overlaps greater than what they’ve ever done in small cameos and call backs they’ve done in Agents of SHIELD. The Netflix shows felt like an entirely separate world.
My thoughts? Giving shows to beloved heroes of past movies is a great idea. Trying to keep them center stage after the Infinity arc is over, though, seems odd. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is perfect in that regard.
And Marvel can get more mileage out of fan favorites like Loki as well. Why put a great character out to pasture? In the grand tradition of comics books, a character getting a “6-issue mini series” is pretty great.
Characters like the aforementioned Scarlet Witch are confirmed to appear in both. But Marvel sees potential in more. Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlett Witch is confirmed for WandaVision on Disney+ as well is in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on the big screen.
Marvel Studios seems eager to let the character go where the story goes, which is good news for fans.
Disney+ is affordable, accessible. I mentioned the $13.99 bundle but Disney+ will also be available individually for $6.99. It’s priced to come to the masses and darned if the content won’t 110% appeal to the masses.
Perhaps this is why Kevin Fiege is comfortable enough to tie the movies with the shows more deeply, knowing there is a likelihood that there will be ubiquitous access to both that allows audiences to track the story across both media.
Who knows. It may have been nothing more than Marvel wanted to mix it up with Phase 4, tweaking the formula a bit. Regardless, Marvel is likely to receive strong viewer numbers for the shows given how affordable and accessible Disney+ promises to be.
The shows on Disney+ will have shorter runs. Early word is saying that these shows on Disney+ will last 6 episodes and we assume that an episode will be about an hour long.
That’s 6 hours of content, which is pretty great! And not too much, to be honest. Marvel shows on Netflix often felt 3-4 episodes too long. A 6 episode series is enough room to tell a good story but it cuts off before it’s adding filler.
Disney+ is a great place to introduce new characters. Hawkeye will introduce female archer Kate Bishop, a well-loved comic character. Will we see a movie version of a comic like Young Avengers? Well, Disney+ at the very least provides an opportunity to intro and gauge reaction of characters who could potentially star in those films.
Disney+ puts the MCU on a much different timeline. The Infinity saga all told stretched out across 23 films over a decade, with Phase 3’s 10 films alone stretching over three years.
Phase 4 is shaping up as five films and five Disney+ shows all before the end of 2021. Not every Disney+ show will further the plot the way new movie installments do, even if they are all happening in the same Marvel universe, so the story will stretch in different directions.
What will that mean for the over-arching story? Well, we’ll just have to see.
In addition to WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye, there is one more Marvel show on Disney+: What If…? If you are familiar at all with the comic, you’ll know that What if…? will present alternate realities of events in the MCU.
An animated show, What if…? will allow Marvel Studios to go a little nuts if they want. Intentionally NOT canon, the stories will be able to feature characters in wildly different circumstances, which while not consequential to the story, is nevertheless a lot of fun.
I, for one, can’t wait.
Click here to read about the greatly exaggerated death of the MCU.
Click here to read a more in depth survey of that Marvel has planned in Phase 4.