It's been a minute since 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home brought the MCU's Phase 3 to its conclusion. But on January 15, Phase 4 officially begins with Marvel's first Disney+ series: WandaVision.
WandaVision is inspired by classic television sitcoms and focuses on Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Vision after the events of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War. And while it looks to be bold and fresh in both its storytelling and series format, it can't help but be compared to The Mandalorian which set the precedent for Disney's franchises going to a series format to tell their next stories.
In a virtual press conference for WandaVision's upcoming debut, the show's creators discussed how Marvel's first foray on Disney+ new series compares to The Mandalorian.
During the press conference as recorded by Comicbook.com, moderator Jaleel White questioned Marvel Studios president and WandaVision producer Kevin Feige about if he applied anything in the making of Star Wars' The Mandalorian to the MCU's WandaVision.
Feige responded by saying,
"...we were all underway long before we saw 'The Mandalorian'... There is lots and lots of 'The Mandalorian' that has inspired us at Marvel Studios, not the least of which is the Stage Craft that we're using on some upcoming projects..."
WandaVision was officially announced by Disney in April 2019, several months before the launch of Disney+ and the release of The Mandalorian. Back then, both series were somewhat of a gamble as no one knew how big of a success both The Mandalorian was going to be or how revolutionary Stage Craft would prove to be.
In regard to the marketing and significance of The Mandalorian's storytelling, Feige continued saying,
"It was amazing to see the marketing job Disney did in event-izing that... These projects on Disney+ are as important as the projects going into theaters... They certainly showed they can do that on Disney+ with Mandalorian."
Ever since Warner Bros. announced the studio was releasing their 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max, the conversation has centered on whether other studios would follow suit. During Disney's Investor Day event, Disney was intentional in communicating a number of their films would still have theatrical releases; but at the same time, they unveiled a staggering lineup of Disney+ series from their biggest franchises including Star Wars and Marvel.
Feige saying, "These projects on Disney+ are as important as the projects going into theaters” not only indicates series like WandaVision are integral to Phase 4, but also that theaters are not needed to tell those stories.
Lastly, Feige praised The Mandalorian's release schedule that differs from series on streaming services saying, "The fun week to week, the discussion, sometimes series drop all at once on the streaming services, Disney+ I think was very smart to drop weekly..." He also credited fan discussion and that weekly conversation in building anticipation and looks forward to the same with WandaVision.
WHAT THIS MEANS
When Kevin Feige speaks, he has something to say, and that was certainly the case in this press conference. From his comments, it sounds like The Mandalorian's Stage Craft will be utilized in upcoming MCU projects, especially as the entertainment industry continues to navigate the COVID-19 landscape.
But his statement about Disney+ projects being as important as projects going to theaters tells us WandaVision, and the slate of other MCU series coming to Disney+, are integral to the story of Phase 4; and for the first time in the history of the MCU, you won't have to go to a theater to see the next installment.
In addition, future MCU stories won't be limited to the structure of a film but can be spread across multiple episodes.
Lastly, Feige seems to have embraced the traditional weekly release schedule for series episodes as opposed to Netflix's model of dropping an entire season online at one time. There's been some debate of which method is best, but the traditional model worked for The Mandalorian and kept the series front and center for weeks as opposed to as long it took most audiences to binge-watch. If Feige believes this decision contributed to the success of The Mandalorian, it's safe to say we can expect it for upcoming MCU series on Disney+ as well.