After our all brains exploded at the end of Infinity War, we had some nice comic relief with Ant- Man and the Wasp… Until that first credits scene, and then that post credits scene to remind us, ‘oh yeah… Thanos sucks.’ We met the final piece of the puzzle with Captain Marvel, followed by more excitement and pain with Avengers: Endgame. And only a few months later, Spider-Man: Far From Home knocked it out of the park with more laughs and (big shock) more pain, along with an ending that made everyone want to scream in shock and frustration, including Peter Parker. Thus concluding, the emotional rollercoaster that was Phase 3.
Partly planned, partly COVID’s fault, we all had a much- needed emotional break from Marvel Studios. However, as WandaVision launches on Disney Plus this month, and we enter into the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that break is officially over.
WandaVision is first time we’ve seen Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (or really the first time we’ve seen anyone, excluding Peter Parker, Nick Fury and I guess Happy Hogan) since the previous Avengers. This is the first streaming series on Disney Plus, and the first series featuring a major character and player in the Avengers (with Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki coming later this year).
Before and since Endgame, Marvel Studios has been laying out their plans for the next few years. On Disney Investors’ Day December 2020, Disney flooded the internet with information on dates, casts, and trailers for upcoming projects in Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel. With several series currently in development, such as Moon Knight, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, SheHulk etc., quite a few movies are still in the line-up for Phase 4 of the MCU such as Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther II, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Eternals, Shang- Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings etc.
So, we’re getting some sequels, and some completely new content. The Disney Plus originals are essentially doing the same thing. Explorations of characters we already know, like WandaVision, Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki etc., and a few brand- new stories, like Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight.
But why shows? Why not movies? It’s not like WandaVision is the first live- action Marvel Studios series. Agents of Shield, with beloved Agent Coulson from Iron Man and the Avengers, and Agent Carter following Agent Peggy Carter from Captain America. Marvel Studios also released a few on Netflix including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. All of them took place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe but didn’t overlap or encounter any of the Avengers (at least in the previous Phases). Agents of Shield and Agent Carter may not heavily influence the Avengers either (I admit, I have not seen Agent Carter or Agents of Shield either, this is just my understanding of the shows), they’re more just us following characters we already know and love and their adventures since their time on the big screen.
WandaVision, Falcon and Winter Soldier and Loki appear to be a little different. All them are viable, significant characters in the universe. Aren’t they deemed important enough for a full- length feature? Of course, they are. So why is that not what they’re getting? Because of the story quality of streaming and the benefits of an episodic story. We don’t need to just give every character their own movie because a series can expand a character a little more. But it all depends on the story.
Normally, I would be asking why WandaVision is a series and not a movie? But… I can’t. For one, after seeing the first two episodes, I don’t quite see how it could have been a film (but what an interesting script that would be, if they were able to successfully do it). We’re also only two episodes in, so who knows.
Since his death in Infinity War, we need to see Wanda’s grief and reaction to it (other than just what we saw in Infinity War). When I first heard about WandaVision, I doubt I was the only person who was like “what? He’s dead! How’s this going to work?” Looking back, it should have been clear, the story was always going to be about her and Vision as they became to halves of a whole. Since his death in Infinity War, how’s Wanda? How’s she grieving? Even though we don’t have any answers at this point, we’ve seen just enough (including what’s shown in the advertisements) to make a guess on what’s going on. Overall, this does seem to be a story that needs to be told episodically… And how is that determined?
It all depends on the story, that’s the bottom line. Could all these upcoming streaming shows be films? Could the new movies (not sequels) be shows? Maybe but maybe not. Kevin Feige is asking himself, ‘what’s the best medium, to tell this story?’ If it’s a two- hour movie, great. If it needs more time, a series it is.
So, as we jump into Phase 4, storytelling is definitely going to be divergent to the previous Phases. But that’s good, it shouldn’t be exactly the same. Stories change, the industry itself is changing all because of streaming. Getting a TV show is far from a downgrade, it’s incredible. It means there’s a story to tell that needs more than two hours to tell it. Heroes, villains, sidekicks, should all get the opportunity to develop at the right pace, at the right time. It’s all part of Kevin Feige’s masterplan.