Marvel Studio’ first original streaming series, WandaVision, has turned into the Friday virtual “watercooler” hit they hoped it would be — and Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel) told reporters today in his first Television Critics Association press tour that it’s just emboldened them even more to lean into outside the box ways of using new and old Marvel characters in their future streaming and theatrical narratives.
“It’s been three years of developing shows for Disney+ and it’s been a burst of creative energy for us to enhance our universe and explore new characters in different and unique ways,” Feige told reporters from the set of Ms. Marvel. He went on to confirm they’re on the back end of production on the Hawkeye Disney+ series starring Haley Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner, and crews are ramping up for production on She-Hulk and Moon Knight.
Confirming that all of their streaming and theatrical projects are developed in tandem, he said the six-hour model — in whatever increments make sense, like WandaVision’s 30-minute format, or less episodes that clock in longer — will continue with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and into the near future.
“The per-episode cost is very high so six [hours] feels like the appropriate number for us now,” Feige explained, as that number will allow the streaming series to meet their own high bar of quality, visually and production-value wise, to match their films.
And at least for the first round of Marvel Studios’ series on Disney+, Feige said the character’s story is dictating their thinking about potential future seasons. In the case of WandaVision, he reiterated Wanda’s story was always planned to continue in the upcoming Sam Raimi helmed Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, which was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. The outcome of that narrative will determine if, and where, she goes next.
However, he did confirm that the series in production now, or soon — Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk and Moon Knight — are the first to be seriously planned with the idea of multiple seasons. “There are shows that we are about to start filming where we are keeping in mind structure for a potential Season 2 or Season 3 in a more direct way, than WandaVision which leads into movie. But all of this is new,” he reiterated. “Perhaps someday we’ll chart out five seasons of something but it’s one at a time right now.”
As to those wondering if the global pandemic and the postponement of the entire Marvel Studios’ slate — their last being Spider-Man: Far from Home in 2019 and the next being the much-delayed Black Widow tentatively set for May 2021 — is going to create problems with the Disney+ series, Feige said not for a while.
“We were lucky if this had to happen it was last year because it didn’t mess up our storytelling.” With the closing of Phase 3, Feige said they were gearing up for brand-new storytelling already in Phase 4 and a lot of it from WandaVision to Black Widow didn't directly thread together, or focus on new characters like Shang-Chi or The Eternals which are origin stories. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was the first series we started and we had the intention for it to go first, but [pandemic] delays in 2020 meant WandaVision went first and that had no impact on either series. Going forward, we hope to continue what we set out to do which is follow characters from series that then interact with features and some will go back into series with everything eventually on Disney+ where all of the Phases are right on Disney+. I love having that arena for fans and particularly for newcomers.”
Last but not least, Feige confirmed that even with the expansion of Disney+ & Star into 59 countries now, Marvel Studios has no plan, outside of the already established R-rated Deadpool character, to create streaming series outside of their self-imposed PG-13 parameters. "We've never encountered a story, storyline or character journey that the PG-13 has prevented us, or held us back," Feige said. "If we ever are [held-back], there could be a discussion but hasn’t been the case yet. All the stories we want to tell are with the structure we have now."