…..really?? – Kevin Feige, Disney+, and the MCU

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.

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The Scarlet Witch is getting her own show…but will we see her get the movie screen time she deserves? / Photo Credit – Captain America: Civil War

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.”[1]  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.’”[2]

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.[3]  So that’s seven upcoming movies in theatres and eight upcoming shows on Disney+ over the next few years.

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At least we are finally, finally, finally, FINALLY getting the Black Widow movie we’ve all wanted since she was introduced in Iron Man 2! / Photo Credit – Avengers: Endgame

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.

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I LOVED this show as a kid!  Man, this picture takes me back. / Photo Credit – Disney’s Gargoyles

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.”[4]  I don’t want to play that game and I’m insulted they’d expect me to.

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The latest trailer did finally pique my interest…but there’s still nothing that makes me feel I need to see this immediately. / Photo Credit – The Mandalorian

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.”[5]  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.

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You were the best of the MCU TV shows. / Photo Credit – Agent Carter

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.

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I can’t wait to get back to Season One!  If only the rest of my exams would grade themselves because I am diggin’ this show. / Photo Credit – Arrow

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)).

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There is so much to explore between Wanda and the Vision.  I hope the show does them justice, even if I won’t be watching it right away. / Photo Credit – Captain America: Civil War

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.

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You’re just trying to trick me Disney, I can see through your little masquerade and you’re not catching my streaming fee. / Photo Credit – Thor: Ragnarok

 

 

 

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[1] 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/

[2] 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

[3] Cavanaugh.

[4] “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

[5] Leonard.

11 thoughts on “…..really?? – Kevin Feige, Disney+, and the MCU

  1. The paragraph where you listed all of the MCU projects that are on the slate made me a little nauseous. That is just waaaaaaay too much in too small a window of time. Besides, like you said, we will understand the movies just fine without watching Loki or WandaVision right out of the gate.

    On another note, I like that you brought up the privilege issue. I mean my goodness, according to the World Bank, 10% of the population of the entire planet live on $1.90 a day. And here we are deciding whether we will spend $6.99 a month so we can be entertained by Star Wars and Marvel when there is already more than enough content out there to entertain me!!! Honestly, it is pathetic and makes me feel ashamed to think that I spend money on such stupid triviality. And I know, I know, I’m allowed to spend some money on myself and yadda yadda yadda. Fine, like, whatever. Sure. But if I’m not doing something – no, many things! – to alleviate the suffering of others at the same time then all I am is a jackass who is perfectly happy sticking my head in the sand. And I refuse to be that person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is way too much! That list covers 2020 to 2022. So that’s FIFTEEN new movies and TV shows in THREE years. There are other things in my life than Marvel stories, no matter how much I love them.

      And AMEN on the larger focus. There is so much in our world that needs our attention. That is where our true responsibility lies. And, while I wouldn’t say this is Disney’s intent in producing so much content for streaming and in theatres, this is the sort of thing that helps perpetuate systemic injustice. If all our attention is focused on anticipating, experiencing, and falling into these constantly new stories (let alone trying to manage the “fear of missing out” our cultural attitudes cultivate) then our attention isn’t turned outwards where it needs to be. We don’t see suffering and injustice and environmental degradation in our own local communities or across the world – let alone what we can do to help fix it – so it all stays as is/gets worse. We’re not even seeing these problems as we instead think about which content we want to indulge in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In all sincerity, I think about it all the time. Often it’s as a result of something I’m teaching. Sometimes it’s just when I’m in the comfort of my house, surrounded by all my stuff. It can be a legitimate motivator and push me out into the world. Other times it’s this freezing and overwhelming sense of guilt and helplessness. The only constant, and I tell my students this all the time, is I know I’m never doing as much as I could or as much as I should. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to say I am. Finding the balance between my comfort and leisure with pushing myself out into the world, beyond my comfort zone, to help is one of the defining struggles of my adult life.

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      2. I think you are right, we don’t see suffering and injustice and environmental degradation when we are constantly in fear of missing out. But perhaps what is even more insidious is when we DO see those things but do nothing because we are too busy with the need to indulge in the next story. It isn’t that we don’t care that these things are affecting the world/people around us, it is that we cannot be bothered while I get my next entertainment fix. I am not going to act sanctimonious and say I am immune from this because I am not. I am a product of my generation (and even using the word “product” makes me gag). But that is simply to identify that I am part of the problem at times, it is not an excuse for inaction on my or anyone’s part. It is an attempt to be honest and admit my own imperfection(s) so I might overcome them whenever and wherever I can. If I refused to hold myself to account, then how could I hold others to account?

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  2. I’ve been asking my husband to disconnect Netflix for a while. I’m like… The great thing about it, and something that people seem to forget though I don’t know why, is that we can start it up again when we’re ready to watch some new show that we like. I may finally be swaying him.

    That said, and we’ve talked about this before, DISNEY+… SO EXCITED. The only thing that has me slightly peeved is that a lot of the classic Disney princess movies aren’t available. What the what?? I have a whole theory that it’s because so many live action ones have been made that they’ll release them together. But they’re are so many other good ones that’ll be there (the sound of music! Mary Poppins!). And some new stuff that I’m super hyped for. 2 days and counting. Couldn’t be more excited.

    (my offer still stands that you’re welcome to borrow my login credentials)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know and thank you :). I still may take you up on it. We’ll see…

      Perhaps your husband is hesitant to disconnect because he doesn’t want the queue you’ve taken so much time cultivating to be lost and/or to have to let Netflix relearn him again when you reconnect. Either way, good luck! I hope you can successfully sway him.

      In regard to Disney+, do you think they’re holding the princess movies (which is a HUGE part of Disney’s market) to give people a reason to sign up who don’t jump on board right away? Like maybe in six months or a year all of those movies show up and then, if you’re still holding out, that may bring you in? It does seem odd that Disney would leave out such a significant part of their “brand” from this launch.

      I’m eagerly awaiting your thoughts on the Disney+ launch and I’m looking forward to experiencing it vicariously through you :). Do you know what you’ll be watching first?

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  3. Hi Michael,

    I am torn and I see your point. That’s a battle fandomers have to fight wisely. But, I think you made me think.

    Hope your school year is going well. Let’s talj before the end of the year. Let me know,

    Gary

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  4. I find it difficult to believe I need to watch all these Disney+ shows to understand the MCU when they said the same about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and that never really tied in. I stopped watching the show because I found it boring and it didn’t affect my movie experience at all! So forgive me for being skeptical of this new claim.

    If it were true, however, I would find it ridiculous and demanding. Yes, it’s insulting to say that fans have to pay for Disney+ in order to watch a movie. It’s also ridiculous that I would be expected to keep up with so many shows! I have limited time–why must it be spent all watching Marvel TV shows?? Just so I can watch a movie? There are plenty of good films released every year. I can just go watch those with zero commitment. And I feel that Disney need to make a compelling reason why people shouldn’t just go watch other movies with zero commitment. What are people with families or demanding jobs supposed to do if they can’t commit to all these shows?

    I also have to say…I’m not really excited for a lot of that new line-up. I don’t know anything about The Eternals or Shang-Chi, so don’t feel excited, and I didn’t love the first Doctor Strange film, so don’t feel like we need another. I’d love to see some of the newer/younger heroes like Squirrel Girl, Ironheart, the Wasp, etc. I see Ms. Marvel is slated for a Disney+ show, but now I’m just sad because I don’t intend to pay for Disney+.

    I don’t have Netflix and it works out fine for me. I just wait for shows/films to come into the library and watch them that way. This does mean I have to wait longer than people who pay to stream, but I’m in the middle of several TV series/film series now anyway, so waiting doesn’t bother me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the MCU is running the risk of becoming too interconnected. When it started, anyone could go see ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Thor’ and enjoy them. Now that’s true of things like ‘Black Panther’ or ‘Captain Marvel’ but everything from ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ to ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’ come with a “required viewing” list. Which is fun…if you have the time. But when it starts to feel like homework and/or too confusing, I bet they’ll start to see trouble.

      I’m with you on the new slate of movies too. I am beyond excited to see Jane become Thor as I LOVED those comics so, so much. But the Eternals were only ever occasional cameo characters for me as a kid and I’ve no knowledge of Shang-Chi. I wasn’t particularly excited when they rolled it all out. I love that they’re trying to add diversity but I’m not sure they’re going about it the best way.

      As you pointed out, their younger heroes seem the logical move. They are anchored in the established heroes already. They bring a much needed diversity to the MCU. And, as younger heroes, Marvel can make movies with them for another decade! Heck, Robert Downey Jr. even said he thought Ironheart should move into the MCU now. I worry they are putting these characters, like Ms. Marvel, on Disney+ because a) they want to sell it and, more troublingly, b) they don’t have as much “faith” in them. I hope I’m wrong…

      I mean they already have a teenage Peter Parker in the MCU. Why wouldn’t they bring Squirrel Girl, the Wasp, Ms. Marvel (as we have Captain Marvel too!), Ironheart, and the rest along? The could even integrate Vision’s daughter Viv with all the WandaVision stuff they’re doing. It would make waaaay more sense to have Peter with an MCU version of the Champions than always tagging along with the “adult” heroes.

      Oh, and HECK YES with ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’!!!! I tried to watch that and had the exact same experience as you. I maybe – maybe – finished the first season but did nothing further.

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      1. Yeah, I think they want to be careful about making so many connections the average fan or movie goer can’t enjoy the films. I’m sure that’s where a good deal of their revenue comes from. Not everyone can be a super MCU fan!

        I feel like I keep forgetting Jane is going to be in the new Thor film. I would watch that for sure. The other Thor films were not, however, my favorite, I must admit.

        Yes! They could have a host of the younger characters with Spiderman! I would love to see Ironheart and the Wasp!

        Liked by 1 person

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