(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)
Marvel is notoriously secretive — so aside from the announcements that several Marvel Cinematic Universe series are headed to Disney+ this year, not many details about them are known. WandaVision was teased as a look inside the relationship between Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), but the true nature of the genre-bending show didn’t become clear until the episodes actually released on the streaming service. And other than the fact that Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are returning as their MCU characters Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it’s still unclear what the series will actually be about.
But Marvel Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige revealed a few more details about what’s to come in the MCU on Disney+ in a virtual press conference Wednesday, part of the streamer’s Television Critics Association winter press day. He was Zooming in from the set of Ms. Marvel, the upcoming series about a teenage superhero that will wrap soon. Hailee Steinfeld’s Hawkeye is also filming now, and in a few weeks production begins on She Hulk, starring Orphan Black Emmy-winner Tatiana Maslany, and a few weeks after that Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will premiere March 19, and Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston’s mischief-making villain, will premiere June 11. After that, Feige teased, is animated series What If?.
Here are the biggest takeaways from his chat.
Any Marvel fan knows that Feige and his brethren will be tight-lipped until the end. So while he did not reveal too much about the upcoming series, he did let a few tidbits slip.
The genesis of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Feige said, was the chemistry between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan that he’d see in the dailies from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. It was fun seeing them interact as two men who didn’t know each other well but shared a best friend in common, and a show was a great opportunity to explore the characters’ personal stories and backstories.
“It was a very fun dynamic, and we thought if we ever had that opportunity, we’d watch a whole show with the two of them,” Feige said, “and Disney+ finally gives us that opportunity. Six hours is what we’ve landed on as the best way to tell our to tell our stories, whether it’s six episodes as it is in the case of Falcon and Winter Soldier, nine shorter episodes as it is with WandaVision, is just what we what we landed on early. The shows are not inexpensive. So as a per episode cost, it’s very high to get that bar [Marvel has set], so six felt like the appropriate number — at least for now.”
And while WandaVision‘s unique structure and homage to eras of television past has been able to appeal to people who might not have been existing MCU fans, Falcon and Winter Soldier is more traditionally action-centric. But Feige said the goal is to appeal to all types of fans, both casual and die hard.
“I think there is much to be found in everything we’re doing, including the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier, with all the blasting and explosions, that will appeal to people whether they’ve been following along with the MCU or not,” he said. “That, at least, is the goal that we always strive for.”
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Now that the MCU includes Disney+, there will be crossover between the movies and the shows — but it’ll be dictated by the story of each project.
“We’ve already said that Lizzie Olsen will go from WandaVision into the new Dr. Strange film. So the fun of the MCU is obviously all of the crossover that we can do between series, between films,” Feige said.
In the case of WandaVision, he didn’t reveal whether there was the potential for a second season after Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. (“I’ve been at Marvel too long to say a definite no or a definite yes on anything in regards to WandaVision,” he said.) But certain upcoming series — specifically ones that are going to start filming soon — are being poised for multi-season runs.
“Sometimes it’ll go into a season 2, sometimes it will go into a feature and then back into a series,” Feige said. “It was announced that Ms. Marvel, after her debut on Disney+, will be going into the second Captain Marvel film. But sometimes, and yet to be announced, but we are thinking of and planning second seasons for some of the upcoming series.”
Feige explained more about the tie between the development of the films and series.
“We are developing all of these shows the way we’re developing our movies; in other words, when we start with a movie, we hope there’s a part two, we hope there’s a part three, but we aren’t factoring that into the part one. We are trying to make something that hooks people enough and that people enjoy enough and want to revisit enough that they want to see the story continue. So that is the way we’re proceeding on television as well,” he said, noting that with some of the other shows “that we are about to start filming, we are keeping in mind a structure that would lead into a season 2 and a season 3 in a more direct way than, say, a show like WandaVision, which clearly goes into a feature. But it is new — that’s part of the fun exciting adrenaline-boosting creativity that we’re able to do thanks to Disney+, and really figure out new ways of storytelling and new ways of telling our stories, and perhaps someday we’ll chart out five seasons of a show, but really we’re focusing on delivering the best seasons we can one at a time so far.”
(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)
Speaking of WandaVision, Feige revealed that the idea to have Evan Peters play his version of Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (from Fox’s X-Men franchise), was an idea that he and creator Jac Schaeffer and the writers stumbled upon very quickly in the process.
“There are discussions on everything at one point or another. That’s one of the fun things about developing these things,” he said. “We ended up going with what you saw relatively early on in the development processes. Just another way that certain people were messing around with Wanda.”
Certain people, of course, who had been messing with Wanda all along, as revealed in the most recent episode of the series.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
If you thought Feige would actually answer that question, you’re dreaming. But Feige did acknowledge it, at least, with in his frustratingly (and potentially charmingly) vague way.
“There are often rumors that are true and there are often rumors that are not true. It was a great fun having Clark Gregg come back to the MCU in Captain Marvel, a founding, important member of the MCU for us, Agent Coulson,” Feige said. “But everything else we’ll just have to see.”
While some fans have complained that the WandaVision episodes were not released as a binge, Feige said the company is pleased with the traditional weekly release model the series has followed — the same model that hit Star Wars series The Mandalorian follows on Disney+ and the other MCU series are expected to follow.
“The reaction has been great. It’s been fun. It’s essentially like a new opening weekend every week,” he said. “I would say it’s unveiling very much in a way we hoped it would; that we designed the series to provide a dialogue week to week. … It’s continued what we like about the ending of our movies or the tag in our movies, just with a more immediate week-to-week structure. So we’ll keep proceeding that way until we learn something new and have to shift.”
With so many Marvel projects in the works now — and the shows and movies all famously connected to one another — what if you miss one? Will people who don’t watch WandaVision be able to understand what’s going on in the second Dr. Strange film?
“We try to make the stories unfold in a way that if you are following along and have seen what has preceded it, you’ll be right up to speed, and more importantly if you haven’t, you’ll be up to speed,” Feige said. “So there were lots of conversations with Sam Raimi and and Michael Waldron and the entire Dr. Strange team that this movie needs to work for people who watched WandaVision, but more importantly needs to work for people who didn’t, who maybe Endgame was the last time they saw Wanda, or one of the earlier movies, or maybe she’s a character they’re meeting for the first time. There will always be different layers of understanding, but we don’t want there to be a barrier to entry.”
Loki, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, and More Upcoming Disney+ Release Dates
Earlier in the day, Disney+ announced new premiere dates, including Loki on June 11, Star Wars: The Bad Batch on May 4, The Mysterious Benedict Society on June 25, Monsters At Work on July 2, Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life on July 23, Big Shot on April 16, and Turner & Hooch on July 16.
Disney+’s upcoming premiere dates:
March 19 – The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
March 26 – The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers
April 16 – Big Shot
May 4 – Star Wars: The Bad Batch
May 14 – High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 2
June 11 – Loki
June 11 – Zenimation season 2
June 25 – The Mysterious Benedict Society
July 2 – Monsters at Work
July 16 – Turner & Hooch
July 23 – Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life
Disney+ title What If? is also expected in summer 2021.
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