Did Marvel’s Disney + Change Really Work In 2021?



Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Hawk Eye.

Marvel Studios’ hopes of breaking into the world of television finally came true with the release of five in 2021 MCU Disney + shows, with varying degrees of success. Phase 4 of the MCU began in January 2021 with the release of Marvel Studios’ first Dinsey + show. Wandavisionafter audiences had to wait over a year for new MCU content. The new format soon took over the MCU’s run in 2021, with five different shows spread across the year, forming the majority of the MCU’s releases when combined with the four films the franchise made in its during the year Catalog. This new form of storytelling has fundamentally changed the way audiences experience the MCU, as it now includes smaller stories in addition to the blockbuster films that can be viewed from the comfort of their own home.


While Disney + shows are already outnumbering the films in the MCU’s release library in 2021, Marvel Studios doesn’t seem planning to slow down. The MCU will have twice as many Disney + shows in its catalog as there are films in its catalog over the next two years. This drastic shift in Marvel Studios’ modus operandi also makes sense from a business perspective, as their shows have a smaller budget and cast, and shorter production and post-production times.

Related: What’s the Next MCU TV Show After Hawkeye?

Although the Disney + shows were still flawed, they managed to serve their purpose successfully. The five MCU shows, which came out in 2021, gave Marvel a chance to focus on characters who didn’t get enough exposure in the films, like Wanda and Sam Wilson, and to adapt story arcs that the films just didn’t have time for. Marvel Studios has been able to give these characters compelling arcs through this lengthy form of storytelling while delivering a reasonably steady flow of MCU content year round.

Marvel’s Disney + shows changed the storytelling of the MCU

Captain Carter rides on the back of the Hydra Stomper in What If

Prior to Phase 4, the MCU was limited to blockbuster feature films, with gaps of up to eight months in between. The Disney + shows’ weekly episodic release structure managed to keep audiences enthralled for months and keep the MCU relevant, even with fans having to wait two full years in between Spider-Man: Far from home and Black widow. This was possible thanks to the new form of storytelling that these shows introduced at the MCU, by focusing on supporting characters and telling smaller and more cohesive stories, which was the case Wandavision and Hawk Eye. This is not to say that the Disney + shows have no real impact on the MCU as some of them, such as Loki, had a huge impact on the larger MCU by being the first project to introduce the concept of the multiverse and possibly the MCU’s next big bad guy.

The lengthy storytelling format allowed Marvel Studios to pack more character development and better thought-out character arcs into these shows than any other MCU project. Broadcasts like Wandavision and Loki gave the audience the opportunity to enjoy these characters in completely new scenarios and emotional situations. It is also important to note that Marvel’s first experiment in the world of animation, What if…?, dealt with anthological storytelling, which is new territory for the studio.

Why Marvel’s storytelling change was needed to break the MCU formula

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision

Perhaps the most important virtue of Marvel’s Disney + 2021 shows is that it reinterprets established MCU characters. Not only did the shows delve deep into the myth of their respective characters, but they did so through stories never seen before in the MCU. One of the best examples of this is The falcon and the winter soldier, a show that explored the concept of Steve Rogers’ legacy through a political spy lens, a genre that has not been explored in the MCU since 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Related: What Marvel’s Phase 4 Release Delays Mean for MCU Disney + Shows

While Falcon was a one-of-a-kind MCU project, the show that broke new ground is a must Wandavision. Simply the most creative of them all Wall avisions Adopt the sitcom format and highlight it as the most unusual project in MCU history. Due to the twisted sitcom structure, Wandavision managed to tell a gripping, emotional story that dealt with Wanda’s love and grief and finally gave her the character development that justifies her comic book counterpart. The genre fusion achieved in the show, coupled with great performances by Elizabeth Olsen and the rest of the cast, makes Wandavision arguably the best MCU Disney + show so far.

Marvel’s Disney + shows are good for the future of the MCU

What if…? That being said, all of Marvel’s 2021 Disney + shows will focus on established characters, and what those shows have done for those characters bodes well for 2022 and beyond, where the vast majority of the MCU’s Disney + releases will feature new characters. Moon knight, You-hulk, and Mrs. Marvel are three of the six shows Marvel Studios has planned for 2022, all of which will mark the first MCU appearances of their title characters. This could be very beneficial to the MCU, especially in Phase 4. All of the most popular MCU characters are viewed so highly due to the amount of time they spend occupying screens that there is ample time for character development and, more importantly , the audience has enough time to build deep connections with the characters mentioned. The long storytelling structure of the MCU Disney + shows will allow Marvel Studios to pack a lot of character development into a character’s first appearance, which could help keep audiences as interested in characters like Moon Knight and She-Hulk as they are in Captain Marvel and Bruce Banner right after their first project.

The Disney + shows give Marvel Studios another perk, which is the ability to introduce characters into the MCU much faster. Ever since Samuel L. Jackson appeared as Nick Fury in Iron mans Post credits scene, comic book fans have unleashed a constant barrage of requests for specific characters to join the MCU, and the Disney + shows allow Marvel to expedite the process of meeting those requests. The Disney + series could also serve as a stepping stone for new characters to participate in future MCU films, as is the case with Mrs. Marvel. Kamala Khan will direct her own show premiere in the summer of 2022 and is confirmed to play a significant role in it The wonderswhich will be released in early 2023. With the number of characters Marvel plans to add to the MCU, it just isn’t possible to give each of them a solo movie. While bigger characters like blade and the Fantastic Four Introduced through full-length features, the Disney + shows still give Marvel the ability to put smaller characters like She-Hulk and Riri Williams in the spotlight.

What Marvel’s Disney + Shows Still Need To Fix

Although the 2021 MCU series received almost unanimous praise, they all faced a similar problem when it came to their villains. All four live-action Disney + releases were constantly teasing villains who didn’t show up until the finale, or at best the penultimate episode. Wandavision did it with Agatha, Loki with Kang, Falcon and the winter soldier with Sharon Carter and Hawk Eye with the kingpin. While all four of these villains are great characters with a rich comic book history and great talent, waiting until the last third of the show’s total runtime to reveal these villains has been detrimental to both the villains and the story as a whole. The last-minute reveal of the villains not only did not give the audience enough time to understand their motivations and engage with them, but it also took away the value of the minor antagonists who appeared on the four shows, SWORD, the TVA, the Flagsmashers and the tracksuit mafia. This was especially devastating for characters like Kang and Kingpin, who could easily replace Thanos as the MCU’s next overarching threat.

Related: Kingpin’s perfect MCU future can make him the new Thanos

Ultimately, the move to include Disney + shows in the MCU paid off. The series managed to tell deep and powerful stories about characters who didn’t get a chance to shine in the films. The shows were also able to create real stakes both physically and emotionally that will have a lasting impact on the future of the MCU. While the rogue problem of the main MCU films hit the MCU Disney + shows, it wasn’t as detrimental as it was for the movies as each show featured multiple villains instead of focusing on one. It remains to be seen if the 2022 shows will achieve the same level of success if they focus on introducing new characters as opposed to the more established characters from the 2021 Disney + releases.

More: All upcoming Marvel Studios Disney + TV shows

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release DATE: May 06, 2022
  • Thor: love and thunder (2022)Release date: 07/08/2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever / Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: 11/11/2022
  • The Marvels / Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release DATE: February 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release DATE: May 05, 2023
  • Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: 07/28/2023

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