When plans were first announced for Disney+, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were left wondering exactly what content from the film franchise would make it to the streaming service once it comes online later this year.
Expectations were high given that TV products offered by the likes of Netflix, ABC, Hulu and Freeform, even at their best, simply felt unattached and diminished compared to the epic movies Marvel Studios was putting out. But with studio president Kevin Feige doubling down on the notion that Disney+'s upcoming superhero series will indeed tie into the MCU, fans can rest assured that the platform will deliver on the promise that everything will finally be connected, as once promised.
That Old, Broken Marvel TV Vow...
When ABC launched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., fans expected it to be high-flying spy drama like what we got with Black Widow and Hawkeye in the Avengers franchise. Of course, Jeph Loeb and Marvel Television did promise it'd all be connected, but apart from early seasons having a few crossover cameos from the MCU (Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Lady Sif), it just never felt like part of its true fabric. The shows didn't have big budgets, the quality wasn't all that spectacular and it ended up being, well, network TV.
Now, things did change with Hydra's infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but rather than actually tie into the cinematic universe, Agents fell into the realm of thematic connections, which became all the more apparent when Doctor Strange came out in 2016 and the show debuted its own Ghost Rider.
The fact that there was no direct link to what was happening on the big screen made it come off like an afterthought, one based on style and not substance. This issue also cropped up with Inhumans, and in shows like Hulu's Runaways and Freeform's Cloak and Dagger, where there's no real influence exerted by the MCU. Inevitably, this detracted from the bigger tapestry we all assumed would develop with all these comic book faces.
Obviously, we can't forget that Netflix did try with its dramas, as MCU connections were relegated to awkward references such as "the Incident" (the Chitauri invasion), "the blond guy with the hammer" (Thor) and then, later, a little better with a nod to the Raft. But apart from these one-liners, a few obscure glimpses of Avengers Tower, references in marketing material and the occasion piece of errant in-universe media, ultimately, Netflix's adaptations all came off like something separate, insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
The Future Is Connected
However, Disney+ is perfectly poised to rectify all of these problems, solely based on its shows not being produced by Marvel TV. Instead, they will be overseen by Feige's team -- a tried and trusted one at that. Having Marvel Studios as the architects here is the definitive answer to why these shows will succeed, at least when it comes to being tied into what happens in theaters, and giving us a more wholesome MCU.
Feige can harness the studio's stable of writers, producers, actors and directors for different projects of varying scope to ensure Disney+ simply becomes that content producer fanboys will feel proud to call their home theater. So far, the only miniseries confirmed is with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, but projects starring Scarlet Witch and The Vision, and Winter Soldier and Falcon are rumored too.
Feige himself said the shows will be "entirely interwoven with both the current MCU, the past MCU, and the future of the MCU," which means Disney+ isn't just being fashioned as filler material for the MCU. It's also a natural storytelling extension.
You can't get more connected and progressive than that. You can tell Feige wants to channel everything that made the MCU tick into these shows to ensure they stay ahead of competitors like Netflix. Also, given it's a Disney service, there's no better place to tell these stories with Marvel characters the company owns. What's even more enticing is the chance for the Fox properties, such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four, to come over, creating more storytelling avenues to expand the service.
The engineers of the MCU are stakeholders in Disney+, and with so many characters brought to life over the last 18 years, the streaming service is the right place to give them their own chapter in Marvel Studios' long term plan. Ultimately, in Feige we trust, and so far, his team has rarely let us down.