We are less than a year out from Avengers 4, and we’re finally gaining the full knowledge of what Marvel Studios will look like post-snap. Even from the moment Peter Parker and Black Panther dusted off this Earth, we were hotly anticipating their inevitable sequels. Then we got news that Loki and Scarlet Witch are tapped to return as part of the new Disney Play streaming service. More recently came word of the Winter Soldier’s team-up with The Falcon. Moviegoers are starting to truly understand the endless continuity of comic books.
The question of how long Marvel can keep up this pace of stringing along blockbuster events with various solo mini-events has been around since Phase One. Just when we start to doubt the longevity of spandex crusaders, Kevin Feige pops up to scoff at our dismay. While partaking in one of The Hollywood Reporter’s producer roundtable discussions, Feige addressed the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s imminent Disney Play takeover:
“Well, it’s not a hundred percent complete yet, so there’s only so much I’m allowed to say, or so much they even tell me. But Paul [Greengrass] mentioned the streaming service, and I think that is something that we’re going to be adding content to, which is exciting. I love your analogy with the campfire, right? As many people as you can get around the campfire and tell stories. Campfires can be different: We are going to tell stories for the streaming service that we wouldn’t be able to tell in a theatrical experience — a longer-form narrative, that’s what comics are, it’s about as long-form a narrative as exists. But also maintaining that theatrical experience, which is our bread and butter, and the lines around the block, if you’re lucky.”
Why should Lucasfilm have all the fun? If Disney is seriously considering to battle Netflix for our subscription dollars, then they are going to need every single one of their heavyweights in the ring. Since it appears that the Defenders titles are shriveling up under the direction of Jeff Loeb and Ike Perlmutter, Disney giving Feige the chance to work his magic on the small screen seems obvious and absolutely necessary. Don’t worry about Netflix though, we’ve already argued that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The Avengers will continue to thrive every Summer season, no matter who is in the roster. Meaning the big gun action heroes will stay the course: Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Captain America (even if that means a passing of the mantel). Now that there is access to Disney Play, smaller roles that tend to get lost in the event melees will have an opportunity to grow. If this option were available sooner, maybe characters like Black Widow and War Machine would have grabbed the spotlight in an earlier phase?
The real concern here is just who exactly will oversee these productions? Our comic book lord and savior Kevin Feige will not be around forever. He told Vulture in January of this year that his contract with Marvel Studios expires sometime in 2019, which means he’ll at least be around “through the movies we’ve already shot or are about to start filming.” Will Disney back a dump truck full of money in his driveway, and will he accept that? Spending over a decade crafting the MCU must have been tremendously satisfying, and if he were to walk away today, he could do so with his head held high.
In the event of Feige’s departure from Marvel Studios, the worry shifts to their momentum of quality. I’m sure there are many executives lining up to take his spot, and if he’s genuinely planning an exit, there is certainly a protege waiting in the wings. But who is that person, and can they possibly nurture the baby that Feige birthed?
Whatever the case, in the immortal words of Philip J. Fry, “Shut up and take my money!” With multiple Avengers splintering off to their own streaming series, I’m already budgeting Disney Play into my monthly bills. Of course, the moment those shows dip from the standard created by the cinematic product, I’ll bail (*cough* The Inhumans, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. *cough*).