To date, the films and television shows of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have never crossed over as much as fans have hoped they would. Sure, there has definitely been direct commentary about notable events, and specific characters have appeared that confirm programs like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and Luke Cage are set in the same continuity, but the degree to which they are shown to be part of one giant franchise has been limited. That relationship between big and small screen material will change in a significant way very soon, however, namely with the arrival of the upcoming Disney+ streaming service, and its massive original content plans.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has spoken in the past about the challenges that come with balancing continuity across multiple mediums, namely that the pace of the storytelling in film and television is so different that it makes them a conflict to sync. That, however, will not be an issue with the big plans for Disney’s new entertainment hub. I sat down with Feige this past weekend during the Los Angeles press day for Captain Marvel, and during the interview he explained why programs like the upcoming Loki series will have a much more significant Marvel Cinematic Universe feel. Confirming the opportunities for crossover, the executive/producer said,
Yes. Directly, yeah. One hundred percent. In large part it's because we've been working on Disney+ for quite a while now, at the exact same time that we were working on the post-Avengers: Endgame MCU, and therefore for the first time ever developed them together.
Going back to the launch of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2013, Marvel Studios film and television have existed mostly as two separate entities working on two completely different schedules, but the creation of the new streaming service provides a creative opening that previously didn’t exist. Disney+ is coming together at the exact same time as the insanely secretive Phase 4 plans that are very much still under wraps, and the synchronicity there is apparently affording some interesting new creative directions for the filmmakers involved.
Obviously a big factor in all of this are the characters that the Disney+ shows will be following – though Kevin Feige was only willing to confirm the existence of the Loki series that is being made first. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe television programs that currently exist, which primary focus on introducing their own heroes and villains, the streaming service material will be used to spotlight blockbuster names that don’t get the same kind of opportunities as, say, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, or Black Panther.
Talking about the creative opportunities provided by what’s being developed, Kevin Feige noted that the real benefit of what we’ll see from the Disney+ series is just a lot of storytelling real estate that will allow character engagement that’s simply not possible in a two hour-plus blockbuster. It won’t necessarily be about “lower scale” events than what we see in cinemas three times per year, but instead about bigger ideas. Said Feige,
I think what's fun is there's more time. There's more time to go further in depth with characters, and we try to do that in all of our films, but in some of the films when there's so many characters they can't all get their own through lines. And one of the many things that's exciting about Disney+ is the opportunity to do both: to both give a level of action that people only see only rarely on television, but at the same time go much, much deeper into a number of our characters and to fully intertwine them within the MCU.
As mentioned, Marvel isn’t confirming Disney+ plans for any characters other than Loki at present, though there have been reports saying that there are also projects in the works that will center on Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s characters, Falcon and Winter Solider, as well as the pair played by Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, Scarlet Witch and Vision. But while Kevin Feige wouldn’t say anything about those other shows, he did confirm that they will include conflicts that will definitely be reflected as characters continue on:
You'll see characters from the movies go to Disney+, be transformed or have their own arcs or have their own transformations thematically, and that will then be reflected in the next appearance in the movies.
We can’t say for certain right now when we will start hearing more details about these developments, but the smart money is on soon. Kevin Feige has confirmed that future plans for Marvel Studios won’t be revealed until after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home later this summer, but after that point it will be interesting to see if the floodgates open in regards to what’s being cooked up for the next few years.
As for why Loki is the first show that Marvel Studios is moving forward with in this realm, Kevin Feige had a very simple explanation entirely centered around the man who will be at the center of the circus:
Two words: Tom Hiddleston.
Loki recently hired Rick and Morty and Community veteran Michael Waldron as showrunner, and production is likely starting soon – though exactly when we can expect to start seeing episodes isn’t entirely clear (obviously at the earliest it will be with the launch of Disney+ this fall). We’ll keep you up to date with details as they become available, as it’s definitely one of the most exciting developments currently coming together currently in the superhero realm.
As for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans will soon be able to dive into some awesome 90s action from the massive franchise, as Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel will be flying into theaters on March 5th. We’ll have plenty more from not only my interview with Kevin Feige coming your way in the next few days, but also chats with Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, and the directors. Be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for a whole lot more awesome stories!