What the future of Marvel looks like with Kevin Feige in control

Marvel has gone through several changes throughout its history; with the film rights of many characters sold back and forth between different companies. The Marvel that once was has since evolved into a giant decade-defining cultural phenomenon, not least of which is due to Iron Man which came out in 2008, setting the tone for an unprecedented number of commercially successful movies with favourable critic reviews. A large part of this success is attributed to the late legend Stan Lee. The other part is said to be due to Kevin Feige, then President of Marvel Studios.

On October 15 it was announced that Kevin Feige has been newly assigned as the Chief Creative Officer of Marvel.

This means not only will he continue to be the creative head of Marvel Studios but he is also at the top of the chain of Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Comics. It can be seen as Marvel highlighting Feige’s importance in the company following his near-flawless run with the MCU movies since 2008. Now, Feige will directly answer to the co-chairmen of Disney, Marvel’s parent company.

Avengers: Endgame which went on to be the highest-grossing film worldwide, ever, surpassing Avatar, was a conclusion to many die-hard fans’ journey in the MCU through the lives of its different superheroes, all almost equally lovable, inspiring and somehow believable. Yet as announced in the comic con a few months ago, there remains a lot to look forward to in Marvel’s future.

It is reasonable and perhaps rightly ambitious for the decision-makers at Disney and Marvel to try and convert their success from blockbuster films to other avenues of entertainment and media.

Read more: The DCEU: Does it exist? How the Joker’s success influences it.

Marvel Television

Previously, Marvel television reported to Marvel Entertainment while Marvel Studios reported directly to Disney. For these corporate divides, there has been a lack of continuity among the storylines and the universe in the television shows and the films. For example, Agents of SHIELD Season 6 was released after Avengers: Infinity War, in which half the population of Earth was reduced to dust. However, none of this was referenced in season 6 of the TV show.

Given that now, Feige will be overseeing all aspects of Marvel creative output, there is likely to be overlaps between the characters from films and TV shows along with more streamlining of content.

It has not been long since streaming services have become a cultural need globally. With the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime, television content has seen a revolutionary change in its development, quality and structure. Even five years ago, it would be difficult to imagine 21 time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep to be acting on television.

It makes sense for Marvel to shift resources and invest in web series and television shows.

Shows such as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Daredevil though have received love from fans and critical praise, none of it amounted to the level as can be expected and hoped for the studios responsible for MCU. Now that Kevin Feige will be in control of Marvel Entertainment instead of making any accommodations for external studios such as ABC, it can be assumed that a better future lies ahead for Marvel TV.

Wanda Vision, The Falcon and Winter Soldier and Hawkeye (pending confirmation) are some of the shows that have been announced to be in production. It will be interesting to see how these characters who seem larger than life on the big screen will translate their performances for shorter runtime episodes, but longer narratives and character arcs. Undoubtedly most fans will be excited to be treated with the increased screen-time to watch their favourite heroes act. At the same time, others will be cautious to see how some of these bold moves will actually follow up to the staggering stories and acting left by the MCU alums. For example, will McKee be able to win over everyone’s hearts as Chris Evans was able to? A large role behind setting Marvel apart from other superhero films has been the absorption of the characters’ essences by the actors into their off-screen lives. In whatever moments we did get to see the likes of RDJ, Evans, Holland, Cumberbatch, Ruffalo, Hiddleston and Hemsworth in their own skin, they seemed every bit as we imagined them as their superhero characters.

Upcoming Marvel films

In case you missed it, here’s the list of upcoming movies for phase 4 in MCU:

  • Black Widow (2020)
  • Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2021)
  • The Eternals (2020)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2021)
  • Black Panther 2 (2022)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3
  • Blade

Blade reboot

For fans who have been following MCU since the early days, the announcement of the rebooting of the film “Blade” is an iconic one.  This time it will be played by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. This has given rise to some speculation and surprise as he has already played a different character in the MCU. In Luke Cage, he appears as Cornell Smith or otherwise known as Cottonmouth, a rival to the show’s protagonist. While there have been other instances of actors playing different roles in MCU, they have been minor roles such as Alfre Woodard who played a sorrowful mother Captain America: Civil War, and also a gangster in Luke Cage.

Fans will also wonder whether this creates an opportunity for other actors who have played different characters in the past to come back in new roles. But if Marvel has made one thing clear in the past, it is that it takes the job of casting very seriously.

While some have expressed concerns over the lack of continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since this is the first time an actor who has played the role of a major antagonist will star as the superhero in a film, it has already been decided that the current shows in production for Marvel will not be continued for long in the future. They have either been cancelled or are set to wrap up in the upcoming months. Instead, these changes and announcements made at San Diego Comic-Con all point to the fact that the upcoming phase of Marvel films and TV shows signify a new beginning for MCU with more streamlined content and continuity extending between the different storylines.

The launch of Disney+, Disney’s own streaming service is being combined with the release of these new shows which are bound to see greater reach and impact than previous Marvel shows. One of the astounding aspects of Marvel has been its sheer bravery in tackling the character developments and stories of a wide range of superheroes. It is indeed something to look forward to if it means we will catch a glimpse of the same ambitions in the TV shows.

Diversity in the MCU

Thor

Natalie Portman as Thor alongside Tessa Thompson as King of Asgard will be a force to reckoned with. Additionally, Thompson will be the first Marvel LGBTQ superhero. As of March 2019, Captain Marvel is the one and only female superhero centric film made by Marvel which followed the massively successful DC’s Wonder Woman in 2017. It can now be hoped that more Marvel films will be made focusing on the strengths, eccentricities and uniqueness of women. Given the fact that there is no scarcity of superhero men for children to look up to and emulate, it is high time that young girls are offered the same possibility.

Black Widow

Black Widow who is already a character that has won and broken millions of hearts is finally, deservedly getting her own origins film. Set to release in 2020, fans who remember the fleeting moments of her past we were shown in Avengers: Age of Ultron, will look forward to discovering more about her real life, back story and how she came about to get the name “Black Widow”.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be the first Asian American superhero film played by Simu Liu, known for playing in the Canadian sitcom, Kim’s Convenience. Shang-Chi is said to be produced with a similar motive behind that which made Black Panther a cultural phenomenon in terms of representation for minorities. Shang-Chi is a superhero originally created in 1972 when kung-fu films were made immensely popular in America by actors such as Bruce Lee.

Eternals

The ensemble cast of The Eternals, yet another Marvel movie in production, includes Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American actor which may be the first time we a see a Brown actor as a major superhero character. Aside from that, Marvel has been pushing them hard as the big supergroup next to the Avengers. While most of that was due in part to make up for the absence of X-men from their film universe; the purchase of Fox has landed X-Men back at Marvel. So it will be interesting to see where that takes the Eternals project.

Directors of the Upcoming Films

It is said that diversity will be promoted behind the screen as well for Marvel films as the directors of the upcoming announced movies feature women and people of colour. We hope the dedication to diversity is a dedication to quality as well.

Disney now has Fox and X men

While Fox has managed to produce some gems that will forever remain in fans’ minds, most people will be itching to see the complex X-men characters’ immense potential to be tapped into by Marvel studios. Though there have been no conclusive announcements as such for X-men movies in Marvel Studios yet, this will definitely be an arena to look into for Marvel’s future.

Marvel Comics

Things are looking up for Marvel comics since Feige is clearly a comic book fan. Ike Perlmutter who previously had more control does not share the same reputation. However, avid comic book readers share some concerns.

Some fear that in a bid to make comic book sales increase, Marvel might consider rebooting and reviving the comic book universe entirely. While this has happened before for certain storylines, most readers feel that it is worth continuing the previously written stories.

It is also feared that due to the massive success of MCU, certain changes are being reflected upon in the comics.

The style has been said to aesthetically resemble the MCU throughout the more recent issues. It is sad if the comics start imitating the films since the films in the first place owe their roots, stories and characters to the comic books.

It would be interesting to see how Marvel can attract the potential comic book readers among the MCU fans with the changes it could make, keeping in mind that the original, hard-core fans of Marvel comics are a completely different kind of audience.

Aside from being heartbroken by the ending of Avengers: Endgame, many fans were also fearing whether this was some sort of a goodbye to Marvel as a whole. But with all their new announcements in San Diego Comic-Con followed by the promotion of Kevin Feige, Marvel has made clear that not only will they continue their run of great storytelling, but they are about to diversify and branch out which is sure to bring forward a much-anticipated phase 4.

Netflix finally has competition, it’s Disney

Disney has set its sights at the streaming industry for a while. Talks of the company starting a streaming service have been going around since before 2017. Finally, it has been stated by Disney that they will launch their service on 12 November 2019. It has been named Disney+ and it’s in a direct collision course with all the existing streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and most importantly Netflix.

Difficult scenario for Disney

Netflix is by far the biggest streaming service in the world right now. It has around 139 million paid subscribers worldwide. For comparison, Amazon Prime Video has around 20 million and Hulu has less than 1 million. Even the closest competitor falls short by more than 100 million users. In this environment, Disney has decided to disrupt the market and take over Netflix’s reign with Disney+.

That is not an easy feat to accomplish. There need to be concrete plans and attractive offers for customers to make the jump from one product to another. Disney knows this and has already taken steps. Its streaming service will allow users to sign up for only $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. When compared to the prices offered by Netflix of $7.99 a month, it’s a whole dollar less. Clearly, Disney+ wins in the when it comes to the price plans provided.

Price is not the only consideration for the audience though. Being cheaper does nothing if there’s nothing to be gained in return for the money. If there are no shows or movies that people would actually want to watch on the platform, there will be no reason to switch. Netflix gives its users access to around over 5,500 titles that include both TV shows and movies. Disney needs to start with at least somewhat comparable catalogue to stand a chance.

A handful of brilliant shows

The people at Disney also realizes this, and seemingly, they are ready to step up to the challenge. Disney+ will have all the classic Disney movies like Bambi and The Lion King, the Star Wars movies, and Marvel’s and Fox’s original movies and shows like The Simpsons. They also plan to have at least a dozen or so Disney originals up on the platform in the first year of its operation. All of these will be exclusive to Disney+.

That means Netflix might lose the rights to show Marvel movie or Fox shows on its site and have to concede them to the mouse.

On top of all this, Disney has resolved to weather through losses up until 2024. They expect that the service will not be profitable until 2024 and they are ready to stick with it until then. That kind of commitment can only be made by Disney and it’s hard to imagine that any other company will be able to go toe to toe with that level of dedication.

The announcement of Disney+ has been a meteor to the media industry. The ripples of the impact can only be felt as all the players are shifting in their seats. The aggressive pricing plan and the enviable library of content that the service is poised to launch with will change the landscape of streaming service industry for certain.

Marvel, Netflix and the future of streaming

If you subscribe to a video streaming service, it’s quite possible that you don’t have much to complain about regarding things to watch. Online video streaming services have firmly and quite rightfully put the nail in the coffin of cable TV service for a long time now. Having a lot of movies and TV shows on demand is quite appealing, it turns out. The cable model was too inefficient and expensive compared to streaming, and thus a mass exodus occurred which saw a millions of viewers switching to streaming services, completely disrupting the cable market. And now the streaming market is about to be disrupted as well. The irony is it’s doing it to itself.

Shutting down beloved shows

Marvel, Netflix and the future of streaming 1

It wasn’t too long ago that Luke Cage and Iron fist, both parts of Marvel’s extended TV universe, were pulled from Netflix. These cancellations could have been attributed to the shows’ quality, which didn’t exactly agree with everyone. But the shock came with the most recent cancellation of Marvel’s Daredevil, the oldest and inarguably the most popular of Marvel’s TV shows on Netflix. And that it occurred after a critically acclaimed third season added to the surprise. “Why is this happening?” is the question that haunts the viewer.

Well, a statistic from Jumpshot suggests despite the great quality of Daredevil’s third season, viewership for the show had gone down by almost a third compared to the earlier seasons. But thing is that viewership was still nothing to ignore. It would only get more popular because of how good it was. The real reason lies in a much larger issue. Disney, Marvel’s parent company, plans to launch its own streaming service, Disney+.

Disney pulling out

A direct competitor to Netflix?

Disney’s plans to launch their own streaming service constitute a multitude of problems. First of all, Disney+ will be a direct competitor to Netflix. This makes having one of Disney’s shows on their platform basically serves as an advertisement for a rival company. Moreover, Disney is adopting an aggressive approach to this service. They are gobbling up all the IPs it can get its hands on. It is unlikely that we’ll get to see these shows on their streaming service. Disney has made it quite clear that Disney+ will be a PG-13 rated family friendly product. No R-Rated movies or shows on it, those will be released by Hulu of which Disney currently owns 30%.

Too many services

Disney’s decision gives light to a bigger issue, the influx of streaming services. Netflix has always had solid competitors in Amazon Prime or Hulu, but now it’s about to have a lot more. Disney has already announced its plans. Then there’s NewTV by DreamWorks which plans to provide original 10-minute shows, DC Universe, the heavily rumored Apple TV. These along with existing services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon and HBO are about to flood the streaming service cyberspace and seriously confuse your wallet.  

The struggle for consumers

Statistics from PCMag.com

Now all this competition should sound like a win for the consumers. Yet, there are multiple reasons why this might be actually very bad. For a person with varied taste, this is actually the worst kind of news. The most recent struggle between Disney and Netflix indicates that the streaming service industry is becoming a zero-sum game. Relationships between distributors are already evidently getting worse and it will probably morph into a battle for distribution rights. Disney’s acquisition policy is just the tip of the iceberg of how studios are looking to acquire rights to distribute movies and TV shows exclusively. Every studio seems like it has tied down some product and it’s only available legally if you are subscribed to their streaming service. If you are a fan of both Star Wars and Narcos, you need to have both Disney+ and Netflix subscriptions to watch both.

Loss of variety

Netflix has attempted to produce originals for their subscribers that one couldn’t watch anywhere else. They’ve spent around $13 Billion in 2018 only on original content. And for a while, each competitor was producing original content that was great. But as the industry grew, virtually every premium channel has its own paid subscription app.

As competitors increase, the world of entertainment is becoming more partitioned.

There is no all-in-one solution anymore, not even a most-in-one solution. Of course, there are a lot more choices now, but each choice is becoming more decentralized.

This will only worsen in the future. Each competitor will attempt to launch its own unique variety of shows and movies. No entertainment entity will have a wide choice of entertainment in one place. There has already been an increase in piracy which can be partially attributed to this cause. There might be many more adverse effects we will observe as the golden age of streaming comes to an end.

Not good news for users

More competitors may sound like lower prices, but there’s a bare minimum. Below this amount companies aren’t willing to produce, so costs won’t be lowered too much; at least if Disney+ and the rumored Apple TV models are any indication. The future is still uncertain. For now, all we can do is give a nervous welcome to the Punisher and Jessica Jones series continuations as they reach their second and third seasons respectively; and bid a confused farewell to Daredevil, where the journey began and apparently has started to end.