Although fans have long known Disney's hotly anticipated streaming service, Disney Play, will boast new live-action Marvel projects, few were prepared to learn those are expected to include Loki and Scarlet Witch series, starring film actors Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen. But those are only for starters.
According to the initial report, which has yet to be confirmed by Marvel or Disney, there are other shows in the works, featuring other Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes, portrayed by their original actors. That's certainly a step or two up from New Warriors.
Disney is keeping most of the details of its streaming service close to its vest, but we do know a decent amount about the studio's still unconfirmed plans for its Marvel offerings.
Don't Expect to See a Captain America or Iron Man Series
Robert Downey Jr.'s hefty salary would, of course, make a Tony Stark series far too pricey, and besides, he and Chris Evans will conclude their Marvel Studios contracts next year with Avengers 4. But even beyond those hurdles, the plans for the MCU corner of Disney Play reportedly call for a focus on "second-tier characters" -- that is, heroes who have not yet starred in standalone films.
Presumably that means in addition to the specifically named Loki and Scarlet Witch, fan-favorite characters like Shuri, the Winter Soldier and Falcon could also be potential contenders. Hey, maybe we'll finally get that Hawkeye series!
These Are Miniseries, Not Full Series
Don't expect 13-episode, multi-season orders like most of Marvel's Netflix dramas, or even 10 episodes like Runaways on Hulu. These Disney Play series are touted as miniseries, in the neighborhood of six or eight episodes. That would fall in line with Hiddleston's British TV work like Wallander and The Night Manager; Olsen, for her part, now stars in Sorry for Your Loss, a web drama comprised of 10 half-hour episodes.
That more limited commitment would likely make such a project more appealing to actors, like Hiddleston and Olsen, who work primarily in film.
They Will Be Produced By Marvel Studios
While shows ranging from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil to The Gifted and Legion are produced, or rather co-produced, by Marvel Television, these miniseries will be overseen by Marvel Studios. That makes sense, considering the inclusion of actors like Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen in their film roles likely means the shows will be more tightly integrated into cinematic continuity than the other Marvel series.
That represents a more significant shift than may have appeared at first blush, as Marvel Studios was moved in 2015 from Marvel Entertainment, under the supervision of Isaac Perlmutter, to Walt Disney Studios. According to Variety, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is expected to take an active role in the development of the series.
The Miniseries Won't Be Low-Budget Affairs
If you're still stinging from the disappointment of Marvel's Inhumans, fear not: Undoubtedly intent on convincing viewers that its streaming service is well worth the price of subscription, Disney is expected to lay out sizable budgets for these miniseries. No actual figures have surfaced, but Variety contends the costs are expected those to rival "those of major studio productions."
For comparison, director Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series, also destined for Disney Play, has an estimated production budget of $100 million. That's Game of Thrones-sized. Other streaming service projects are thought to carry costs in the range of $20 million to $60 million.
This Doesn't Mean Loki Survived Infinity War
Just to be clear, talk of a miniseries isn't necessarily proof that Loki somehow escaped death at the hands of Thanos in the opening scene of Avengers: Infinity War. There's nothing that says a Disney Play show has to be set after the events of the Marvel Studios blockbuster. After all, Hiddleston's trickster has lived for thousands of years; surely, there are countless stories, and eras, a show could explore.
Disney's streaming service, Disney Play, is targeted to launch in 2019.