Is Disney+ to Blame for the Death of Marvel TV?

Marvel Television is dead. Long live Marvel Television. Just change the streaming channel to watch Marvel TV shows.

When Marvel announced that it would shutter its television unit and fold it into the ultra-successful Marvel Studios that made the MCU movies, the news took pretty much no one by surprise. Marvel shows on ABC, Hulu, Netflix, Hulu and Freeform all fell like so many dominos, and there was an elephant in the room whose name might as well be Dumbo – otherwise known as Disney+. 

What shows did Marvel Television create?

Chloe Bennet and Clark Gregg for Marvel Television's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'
Chloe Bennet & Clark Gregg from Marvel Television’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Marvel Television was created in 2010, two years after Marvel Studios made a big splash with the first MCU movie, Iron Man. Although Marvel Television handled the small screen and Marvel Studios handled the movies, the TV shows were considered part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the two divisions co-existed quite nicely. 

The first Marvel series that made it to air was Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., revolving around Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson, and it was a big hit, being the one multi-season show that is still in production. Soon after, Marvel expanded into the world of streaming with Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Daredevil got a lot of buzz for its innovative fight scenes, and Jessica Jones was praised for its real-world milieu, proving that Marvel shows didn’t have to have a big CGI budget to be successful. 

Jessica Jones spawned two spinoffs, Luke Cage and Defenders on Netflix, and other shows sprang up on other platforms too, including Runaways on Hulu and Cloak and Dagger on Freeform. Marvel fans had the best of both worlds: about two dozen very successful films and several TV shows to choose from. It seemed there was something for everyone. 

Why did Marvel Television fade?

Eventually, though, it seemed like the bloom came off the rose. The Netflix shows that came after Jessica Jones and Daredevil didn’t seem to make as much of an impact. Agent Carter on ABC only lasted two seasons, and Inhumans made nary a ripple in 2017, despite being screened in IMAX theaters.  

With streaming looking more and more like the way of the future, Disney decided it didn’t just want to partner with Netflix or buy a controlling stake in Hulu. It wanted to create its own streaming outlet. Almost as soon as Disney+ was announced, Marvel fans could see the writing on the wall. They knew the Marvel Television shows weren’t long for the world. 

As one fan put it on Reddit, “From a business perspective, this was inevitable. Back when Marvel Television was formed, it was designed to create Marvel content for Disney-ABC Television Group of channels. Now that Disney+ exists, there’s no point in maintaining a division that was designed for network television in mind.”

What Marvel shows are coming up?

A few Marvel Television shows still have to play out. These include Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is heading into its seventh and final season. The already announced Helstrom is filming and will run as a limited series on Hulu next year. 

After that, Disney+ comes to the fore, with the shows produced by Kevin Feige, the primary creative force behind the movies. First out of the gate will be The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in Fall 2020. Then a quartet of shows will hit Disney+ in 2021: Loki, WandaVision, What If…? and Hawkeye

And as if that weren’t enough, there are four Marvel movies scheduled for 2021: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man 3 and Thor: Love and Thunder. Once again, Marvel fans will have a ton of content to choose from on the big and small screens – only now, it’s all in-house.