Disney’s streaming service just got a whopping dose of Marvel firepower. While Disney has been quietly assembling content for its proprietary streaming service that will launch in late 2019, word has been mum on what kind of original Marvel content it would include. Jon Favreau is directing a live-action Star Wars series and there’s a TV series adaptation of Monsters Inc. in the works, but Marvel launched a partnership with Netflix years ago and has its own interconnected universe of shows running on that streaming service, including Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
Per Variety, however, Marvel has plans to launch various new standalone limited series on the Disney streaming service using popular characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The report says separate shows centered on Loki and Scarlet Witch are in development, with Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen likely to be reprising their roles—that’s right, these standalone series will find the actors from the films filling the same roles. Other shows will feature superheroes who have yet to be given their own standalone movies.
These shows will differ from the existing Marvel TV series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Fist in a few key ways, including the fact that the Marvel shows on the Disney streaming service will be produced by Marvel Studios, not Marvel TV, with Kevin Feige taking a hands-on role in their development. Marvel TV is run by Jeph Loeb, who reports to Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter. But it was creative friction with Perlmutter that bolstered Feige’s decision to reorganize his place in the company a few years ago. He now reports directly to Disney’s Alan Horn and was able to dissolve the meddling “creative committee.” Films created after this move include the ambitious and successful Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther.
These new standalone shows on the Disney streaming service will include just six to eight episodes, but Marvel and Disney are expected to invest heavily with big budgets to rival those of major studio productions. The idea is to allow characters who haven’t yet gotten their own standalone movies the chance to shine, and it’s not expected that characters like Captain America or Iron Man would appear. But that leaves folks like Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and many more on the table, and if Marvel really does this right, we could see some exciting, ambitious, and creatively diverse standalone series for characters such as these.
This is all part of Disney’s effort to rival the giant that is Netflix. Disney has already said its streaming service will cost less than Netflix, and it’ll also include original films like the Lady and the Tramp remake and the Christmas comedy Noelle starring Bill Hader and Anna Kendrick. It appears that Marvel’s contribution will be in the form of “limited series” adaptations of familiar MCU characters, which is insanely smart. Nowadays, eight-episode limited series can rival big studio films in terms of creative expression, star power, and even production value. And with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at the helm, the quality will be very much up to the standard we’ve come to expect from the MCU movies.
Marvel and Disney have confirmed exactly none of this, but plans will begin to leak out more and more as Disney’s late 2019 launch date approaches. They’re rolling cameras on various Disney streaming service-exclusive options, and they’ll want to be launching the service with a bounty of content already loaded up and ready to consume.
This news also comes as interest in Marvel TV’s Netflix shows has waned considerably. They’ve already confirmed The Defenders 2 won’t be happening, and recent seasons of Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and even Jessica Jones were met with a somewhat mixed response. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to those series when and if the streaming service shows launch with presumably much bigger budgets and movie stars. Add in the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is about to air its final season and Inhumans was D.O.A., and the writing seems to be on the wall.