The 1 Marvel Show Disney Needs to Be a Hit With Fans

Having enjoyed an unprecedented run of success at the box office, Marvel Studios now faces a new challenge in which success seems less assured — streaming television. 

Disney + goes live in November, and shortly after that will come several series featuring your Marvel favorites. While Marvel President Kevin Feige and company have every reason to be confident, the law of averages says they have to fail sometime.

And if they fail with WandaVision in particular,  that could backfire in ways that might affect their movies too. 

Disney+ logo sign at D23 Expo
A Disney+ streaming service sign | ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

What does Marvel have coming on Disney +?

Having just made the massive Avengers: Endgame,  Marvel will not have shows ready when Disney+ debuts in November. They will begin rolling out in a little less than a year. Here’s the schedule, per Radio Times

August 2020The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows the continuing adventures of Bucky and Sam as they wrestle with the legacy of Steve Rogers and Captain America.

Early 2021: WandaVision: The Scarlet Witch and Vision explore their relationship in what has been described as something of a sitcom. Meanwhile,  Loki continues the story of Thor’s nefarious half-brother. 

Mid 2021: What If? Is an animated series ponders alternate realities like “What if Peggy Carter took the super-soldier serum that gave rise to Captain America?” 

Late 2021: Hawkeye, where Jeremy Renner returns as the Avengers’ ace archer.

To Be Determined: She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight

The first show won’t be the most important

Don’t get us wrong, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is certainly important, simply because it’s the first out of the gate. People will be watching this and thinking, “Can Marvel do as well on the small screen what they have done on the big screen?”  That’s no small test, and if the first test goes wrong, well, as the old cliche goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. That would put every other show on the hot seat. 

On the other hand, Marvel is playing it a little safe with this show being the first one. We know they can do Falcon well. We know they can do Winter Soldier well. It’s an easy bet those characters will work well together because of the thematic bond they share. And if the show somehow stumbles, subsequent movies could help right the ship. 

If ‘WandaVision’ misses … ouch

On the other hand, WandaVision is a much bigger gamble than The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The Elizabeth Olsen/Paul Bettany showcase isn’t just them doing the same things on TV that they did in the movies. 

GameSpot describes it as the “weirdest Disney+ MCU show,” saying it will tie into the trippy-sounding movie Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. The TV show has to resurrect Vision, who died in Avengers: Infinity War, and it’s also playing with 50s TV tropes like TVs with rabbit ears.

Even Bettany himself professed not to know what’s going on, saying at Comic-Con he’s “never been more confused in front of so many people.”

If this weird mixture doesn’t gel, the message seems simple: Don’t go weird, Marvel. Write what you know. Stick to the superhero action stuff and make the fans and the shareholders happy. 

But what kind of message does that send? Don’t be imaginative? Don’t take a risk? Keep doing the same stuff we’ve all seen before? Those aren’t questions creative people like to hear.

Pixar director Brad Bird once said the problem with the movie business is that the studios are so risk-averse. He once said in a tweet, “The only investment Wall Street won’t criticize a studio for making is a remake/reboot/sequel. You’ll get a pass if you lose money on one of those. But NO ONE wants to be caught losing money on an original.”

So fewer original movies are made. 

Granted, WandaVision is kind of/sort of in sequel territory, but it’s taking a risk, and if it doesn’t work, then the shows that follow it will be safe, which to some is a code word for dull.