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Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany

Over the course of the Infinity Saga, Marvel contained its movies in Phases. They tended to end with an Avengers movie… or, an Avengers movie, followed by a lighter palette cleanse (like Ant-Man in 2015, and Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019). Fans grew to pay attention to the projects that Marvel Studios chose to begin and end a phase, but with Phase Four, things look different. For one, television is now in the mix, as the MCU also includes streaming and the fresh programming on Disney+.

That makes this Friday’s WandaVision the first story of this new Phase, and when Kevin Feige was asked during a recent Marvel press conference what he thinks that the tone of the show says about what to expect from the rest of Phase Four, he replied:

I hope it says. ‘Get ready for the new and the different.’ I hope all of our movies have said that, one after the other over the years. But certainly with the Disney+ opportunities, it has allowed us to expand creatively what we do. The original plan was, Falcon And The Winter Soldier was going to debut first last year, followed very soon behind with WandaVision. So creatively, it didn't reshuffle. Part of having a long lead plan is having the ability and the ideas of how to shuffle should the need arise. I'm not saying we were prepped for a global pandemic. We were not. But we've always, over the past 12 to 15 years of Marvel Studios, been able to shuffle around.

“Shuffle” is a key word for the entire entertainment industry as it deals with the fallout from shutdowns created by the pandemic. Major companies have been figuring out how to handle their slates, with studios like Warner Bros. making a compromise between theatrical and streaming, and Disney+ putting unexpected films on its streaming service because theaters still aren’t fully operational.

And yet, “unexpected” is a key term that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige chose when he went on to explain:

The unexpected has often served Marvel Studios well. And it has served us well in this case, because this show being our first one, I love how bold it is. I love how different it is. And I love, as I said before, it is something you can only see on a Disney+. We have things that you will only be able to see initially in theaters, we have things that could, and are made for that. And this is very much made to what to be seen week after week, on television, which is very different for us. It was very fun, and it is as bold as it comes.

Having seen the first three episodes of WandaVision, I can confirm that it in no way feels like a film that was chopped up for Disney+. These are episodes that all are building toward a bigger story. And you can begin to trace that journey on Friday, January 15, when the first two episodes of WandaVision drop on the streaming service, and Phase Four gets underway.

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