Nearly two years ago, Marvel released Avengers: Endgame. The 22nd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was the highest grossing film of all time and one of the biggest crossovers ever made. It tied a bow on the largest cinematic storyline since it gave many fan-favorite characters send-offs that ended their character arcs. Some of these characters (and their respective actors) have been in these MCU superhero films for nearly a decade, so their send-off raises one large question: what happens next?
Disney has no reason to stop producing Marvel content just because they completed arcs for fan-favorite characters (specifically Iron Man and Captain America). The MCU has made 22.56 billion dollars from 23 films, so it would be a complete waste of money to just scrap the developed universe and not attempt to make a profit from it anymore. Even though Iron Man and Captain America were arguably the core reasons this franchise worked, there are dozens of other characters Marvel can use to try and continue the storyline they have already developed. Their next release after Spider-Man: Far From Home suddenly became a mystery once COVID-19 made theaters less than desirable to attend. Thankfully, Disney+ had just launched in November 2019, so there were other plans for the future of Marvel that did not involve theaters.
WandaVision: The First Disney+ Marvel Show
The pandemic offered a small break from Marvel related content. The MCU had been churning at least two films into the public’s gullet since 2013, so fatigue could have definitely hurt Marvel’s stock had they continued to release content in 2020 (the original plan). Originally, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was supposed to be the first MCU show on Disney+ in Fall of 2020, but was pushed back due to COVID conflicting with production. However, WandaVision (scheduled for January 2021) was able to release on time, and became the first entry in Marvel’s fourth phase of content.
Currently six out of nine episodes into its wide release, the show has received relatively high critical/audience praise. Most of the praise is because it is “different” from the rest of Marvel’s content. It only requires watching the first minute of the show to realize that something very weird is happening since the two main characters of the show (Wanda and Vision) are modern-day Avengers in a 1950s-style sitcom. WandaVision has since begun to reveal the true story behind the weird phenomena happening in this world, but has still left questions for its final three episodes.
“Its two central characters are borrowed from the ‘Avengers’ movies but they’re in very different territory here, more reminiscent in some ways of the most distinctive of the earlier Marvel shows, FX’s ‘Legion’” – Mike Hale (The New York Times)
Weird is good
The reason behind WandaVision’s success (that will likely be translated into Marvel’s future work) is because it is weird and different. Some MCU stories are often criticized for being too similar and following the same formula time and time again. However, WandaVision offers a new format: a nine-episode long limited series with a disturbing mystery and mind manipulation. The show also focuses on two secondary characters who never got enough spotlight in the films, so their development feels fresh and well-deserved. The first six episodes of WandaVision have set a high bar for Marvel, but more importantly the show continues to prove that Marvel fans enjoy fresh ideas and want more experimentation in their content. Only time will tell if the MCU continues to go down this route.