Ever since Disney+ was announced, Disney has been pushing Marvel film and TV as one of the major pillars of the streaming service...although, anyone who signed up to use Disney+ during yesterday's U.S. launch would have found the service kind of wanting for more Marvel content. Most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are present, but not all. If you were planning to watch Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, or Avengers: Infinity War on Disney+, you will have to wait until next year. Incredible Hulk and the two MCU Spider-Man pictures have also been left out, and they do not currently have dates due to rights issues.
Aside from the movies, Disney+ has an adequate library of existing Marvel shows and animations, including some shows from the peripheral MCU like Agent Carter and Runaways (but weirdly, neither of those shows' sister series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Cloak and Dagger are on the service). I understand that complicated distribution deals make it impossible to have a comprehensive Marvel library in one place, but one of the most egregious omissions that could be easily remedied is the lack of Marvel One-Shots. If Disney+ became "the place you can find all the MCU short films", that would be enough to placate a lot of fans this early into the service’s lifetime.
I've said that Disney+ is adequate when it comes to existing Marvel content, but when it comes to anything new or exclusive, the service is currently bereft. The first of the Disney+ Marvel shows, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier doesn't come out until late 2020, so it'll take at least a year for Disney+ to become a destination Marvel app. Perhaps knowing this, Disney decided to load the service with Marvel Studios: Expanding the Universe, a 12-minute promotional documentary that works as a flashy I.O.U. for Marvel content. The promo isn’t packed with a lot of new information, but I think it could be very exciting for fans who don’t obsessively follow comic-con news and trade reports.
Expanding the Universe takes us through the upcoming the Disney+ Marvel offerings, mainly by stitching together pre-existing footage and soundbites from San Diego Comic-Con and D23. All eight of the previously announced Disney+ Marvel series get a segment, and even though there aren’t any big revelations (like castings or footage), I’ve put together some of the more interesting tidbits.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
We get to see some concept art of Bucky and The Falcon their sleek new outfits. (One is wearing blue and the other is wearing red. How cute!) More concept art of Sharon Carter, Helmut Zemo, and Wyatt Russell as U.S. Agent. There’s a very brief clip (that was previously shown at SDCC, but never released) of Daniel Brühl’s Zemo wearing the iconic purple balaclava.
Aside from the visuals, showrunner Malcolm Spellman explains that the show won’t be “all action, all the time” and will work on developing its characters. Kari Skogland, who is directing all six episodes, promises “the same exciting, high-end set pieces” that you would see in a Marvel film. So don’t expect dimly lit corridor fights with this one.
I found this segment to be one of the more substantial ones. There are some descriptions of the new characters: Teyonah Parris is playing Monica Rambeau as a “Marvel superhero.” Kathryn Hahn will be playing “the nosy neighbor of Wandavision.” Randall Park and Kat Dennings will be reprising their roles as Agent Woo and Darcy Lewis, respectively.
Creator Jac Schaeffer describes the show as being “half classic sitcom, half MCU spectacular.” We don’t learn the exact setting of the series, but producer Mary Livanos claims it will be “unexpected.”
Not much new to go off of besides the reiteration that there will be a huge “time-travel” component and “man on the run” quality. Think Doctor Who and Quantum Leap meets Bill Bixby’s Incredible Hulk.
They confirm that Loki will show us where the Trickster God went after he picked up the tesseract in Avengers: Endgame. Director Kate Herron promises that they’re “taking Loki to an entirely new part of the MCU.”
Another substantial segment. We get to hear Jeffrey Wright’s The Watcher narrate the opening credits of the animated What If…? series: “Time. Space. Reality. It’s more than a linear path. It’s a prism of endless possibility.”
We get some elaboration on the scenarios that What If…? will explore. We already knew that one episode will give us Peggy Carter as Captain Britain, but we also learn that reality features Steve Rogers piloting an Iron Man suit built by Howard Stark. Other stories will give us a Marvel Zombies reality, and one reality where T’Challa was abducted by space aliens and became Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill.
We get a pretty elaborate graphics sequence that seems heavily inspired by David Aja’s art from Matt Fraction’s beloved Hawkeye run. Another point of interest is that Jeremy Renner gets a lot of airtime in this segment, so that should assuage the rumors that he’s being recast due to his abuse allegations. Even though Hailee Steinfeld has been connected to the role of Kate Bishop, although her name and presence are curiously absent from this promo.
Kevin Feige mentions that Hawkeye will explore Clint Barton’s time as Ronin. There's also concept art that pictures Barton with Pizza Dog, and it better not be lying.
Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, & She-Hulk
It’s pretty clear that these three series are still in the earliest stages of development, so there’s nothing to divulge with regards to them.
That’s basically all the tea that Expanding the Universe has to spill. We then get a countdown of all the Marvel Studios films on Disney+ (that doesn’t seem to be in any particular order) and then the promo ends.
It’s funny that even with all the recent hoopla about how the Disney+ Marvel shows and the theatrical films will interact, this promo doesn’t lean at all into the upcoming movies. Probably because this was put together way before Feige even made his statements, but still, with the steps they’re taking, you’d think Marvel Studios would want to make this all feel as cohesive as possible. Or maybe they’re smart to play it safe and keep things separate for now.
So there’s everything you need to know about Disney+ and Marvel in the earliest days. Lots of promises are being made, but the main one I want to hear is if we’re ever going to see the return of One-Shots. Disney+ would be the perfect venue for them!