The other day I stumbled upon this article on ComicBook.com about how Kevin Feige has said the upcoming MCU shows on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ will fit in with the movies. As I read it, I found this li’l post developing in my head. Sometimes I like/need to just react to something as soon as I hear it. That’s how this sporadic “…..really??” series works. Sometimes my fears/feelings end up being validated (like how “Marvel Legacy” was a boring reset) and sometimes I couldn’t be more wrong (like when I decried the “Hydra Cap” reveal). But this time it’s Feige and the next phase of stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe I want to talk about.
ComicBook.com’s Patrick Cavanaugh summarized Kevin Feige’s remarks in a recent interview outlining, “with the upcoming debut of MCU series on Disney+, the events of those shows will tie more directly into the theatrical endeavors, requiring fans to watch those series to fully appreciate theatrical outings. It’s unclear, however, if it will be because the events of those series will impact the films or if the exploration of those characters will provide more context for the films in which they appear.” Cavanaugh was drawing from a Bloomberg Businessweek piece by Devin Leonard where he interviewed Bob Iger on how Disney+ will fit into his legacy.
Discussing the MCU’s contribution to Disney+ in this piece Leonard writes, “[Feige] does drop one little morsel, though. If you want to understand everything in future Marvel movies, he says, you’ll probably need a Disney+ subscription, because events from the new shows will factor into forthcoming films such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The Scarlet Witch will be a key character in that movie, and Feige points out that the Loki series will tie in, too. ‘I’m not sure we’ve actually acknowledged that before,’ he says. ‘But it does.’”
The MCU’s upcoming slate is large and growing. Coming down the line at the time of writing we have Black Widow on 1 May 2020 (film), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in Fall 2020 (Disney+), The Eternals on 6 November 2020 (film), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on 12 February 2021 (film), WandaVision in Spring 2021 (Disney+), Loki in Spring 2021 (Disney+), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on 7 May 2021 (film), the yet untitled Spider-Man 3 on 16 July 2021 (film), What If…? in Summer 2021 (Disney+), Hawkeye in Fall of 2021 (Disney+), Thor: Love and Thunder on 5 November 2021 (film), the yet untitled Black Panther 2 on 6 May 2022 (film), and they’ve also announced the Disney+ shows Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight as well. So that’s seven upcoming movies in theatres and eight upcoming shows on Disney+ over the next few years.
The thing is…I’m just not excited about Disney+. And, honestly, reading this makes me less excited about the streaming service. It’s not like there’s nothing on Disney+ I find appealing. I’d love to revisit some of the thirty seasons of The Simpsons they’ll have. While I haven’t watched that show in years it was a big part of my youth and I’d love the nostalgic fun of revisiting those ‘90s episodes I used to watch (and quote) all the time. I was excited when I heard Gargoyles would be on it too. David and I loved that show as kids and I remember it being a very connected, detailed narrative. Easily watching it in order would be awesome (if it’s as good as I remember). And the idea of seeing Hilary Duff return in a new Lizzie Maguire Show as an adult, complete with her animated self/inner monologue, sounds like a lot of fun.
BUT while there are things I’d like on there I’m more disinterested than anything else. First, I never really watch as much of anything as I’d like to. In fact, I’ve been seriously considering cutting Netflix. I know, saying I’m thinking of giving up Netflix in 2019 is like saying I don’t read by electric light. But Netflix costs me about $150 a year. Do you know what I’ve watched on Netflix this year? Stranger Things and Supergirl. That’s it. That’s all I’ve watched this year. Second, Disney’s done nothing but disappoint and/or underwhelm me since they bought Star Wars (save the brilliant Rogue One and Alphabet Squadron) so I’m in no rush to see their Star Wars shows. Third, this whole Disney+-shows-are-needed-to-understand-the-MCU-films thing is absolute bullshit off-putting absolute bullshit.
The idea I’d now need a monthly fee for a digital streaming service to be able to understand a movie I want to go see is ridiculous. It creates one more unjust socio-economic imbalance in regard to who can experience these stories. I’ve written before how the fact that I can see a movie in the theatre is a mark of privilege and the shape of my life. I have the disposable income to spend on movie tickets and I can manage the work from my job in a way which allows me to do so. Not everyone is in the same situation. Personal finances aside, it’s also asking too much of me as a fan. It seems Disney is seeking to use my love of Marvel characters and stories to get the price of not just a movie ticket from me but a monthly subscription fee now too. As Tim Mulligan, EVP and research director at MIDiA Research said of Disney+ on CNBC, “So they are going to market with a healthy position in their content. But really the USP [unique selling proposition/point] that Disney has that Netflix has been unable to achieve to date…the challenge which Netflix have to aspire to and which Disney have already achieved is that Disney is now in a position to weaponize that fandom relationship they have.” I don’t want to play that game and I’m insulted they’d expect me to.
As shady as this is, I honestly don’t think it will work that way. The Disney Canon of Star Wars and their Netflix and ABC Marvel shows illustrate Disney isn’t great at making their movies and TV shows truly connect (or connect at all in the case of Star Wars). If experience teaches us anything, I think it will be superficial connections at best. While I may miss some subtleties, I can’t imagine being lost watching Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness because I haven’t seen WandaVision or Loki on Disney+.
And honestly, that makes me even more mad. Because I do think Feige, Iger, and all the Disney people are playing this up so Marvel fans like me are more inclined to run out and get Disney+ right away. Presently, the estimate is that Disney+ will “lose a combined $11 billion over the next four years, then finally turn a profit in 2024.” So they clearly have incentive to get as many people watching as possible. As a fan I’m insulted by the idea these shows would be essential to understand the films because that’s uncalled for and ridiculously demanding. But I’m even more insulted by their saying they are when they won’t be to try and manipulate me into getting yet another streaming service.
The Netflix shows never felt connected to the MCU and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter did their best to connect while largely being ignored by the films themselves. Agent Carter tragically ended too soon but I became bored with all the other Marvel shows – from S.H.I.E.L.D. to each Netfilx offering – and gave up watching before any of them came to their natural end. While the movies have always tied together pretty beautifully, the shows haven’t clicked with the films nor have they really worked (at least for me) for long. What then have I seen to make me need Disney+ right away? Absolutely nothing.
Plus, why would I need to rush to watch these shows anyway? I just jumped into the Arrowverse, watching (and loving!!!!) four seasons of Supergirl so I could start Season Five alongside Batwoman. I adored it all! Yet not once did I find myself feeling I’d “missed out” by not watching all this as it first aired. I’ve since started watching Arrow to get a sense where the Arrowverse began too. I’m enjoying the beginning of Oliver Queen’s vigilante career very much and in no way, shape, or form, do I feel the show’s greatness is lessened for me by waiting until now to start it.
So I’m not saying I’ll never get Disney+. Who knows? I may never get it. But I have no way of knowing and speaking so definitively only ever serves to come back and bite you in the ass anyway. What I’m saying is Disney has given me no real reason to rush to get Disney+ now and their attempts to nudge me in that direction have only served to build resentment on my part in regard to their new streaming service.
I’d rather rent them later anyway. My town is lucky enough to still have two video rental stores standing and while I don’t know how long they’ll last, I think it’s a blessing to be able to patronize them while I can. I’d also rather support our local economy renting from them as opposed to dumping more money into streaming services I hardly use (I’ve been watching Arrow and The Flash with DVDs I’ve rented as opposed to streaming them on Netflix (as I get used to the idea of cutting Netflix)).
IF the TV adventures of the Scarlet Witch, Loki, both Hawkeyes, and the Falcon and Winter Solider are amazing then they’ll be just as amazing when I get around to seeing them in a few years. If they aren’t (which I doubt) I won’t have missed out on anything anyway. But IF they really are essential for me to see/understand/enjoy the MCU films – if a Disney+ subscription becomes necessary for me to enjoy a night out at the movies with the comic characters I’ve loved my whole life – then that’s going to get me to stop seeing the movies a lot faster than it’d ever get me to sign up for this streaming service.
Now, to be clear, I am not saying people shouldn’t get Disney+ nor that they shouldn’t be excited about it. I hope it’s a good service and I sincerely hope the content is worth it for the people who do sign up. But for me, right now at least, I can’t see any motivation to get it. And the more Disney tries to encourage me to do so by “weaponizing [the] fandom relationships they have,” the less I care to play along.
 Patrick Cavanaugh, “Kevin Feige Says Marvel Fans Will Need to Watch Disney+ Series to Understand Future MCU Movies,” ComicBook.com, November 7, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019, https://comicbook.com/marvel/2019/11/07/kevin-feige-marvel-cinematic-universe-tv-shows-disney-plus/
 Devin Leonard, “Bob Iger Takes the Gloves Off for Disney’s Streaming Debut,” Bloomberg Businessweek, November 7, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-11-07/inside-disney-bob-iger-on-star-wars-pixar-and-more
 “Disney is now in a position to ‘weaponize’ fandom, expert says, MSN.com, November 8, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019, https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/video/disney-is-now-in-a-position-to-weaponize-fandom-expert-says/vp-BBWt19y