The streaming wars have never been more complex. With the ongoing pandemic, streamers are strategically moving chess pieces in order to gain advantages in the film industry’s still cloudy future. Disney+, in particular, has been dominating the market with its catalog of classics and bold new originals. What started with Lucasfilm’s The Mandalorian, and now with Marvel’s WandaVision, is unlike anything the streaming market has seen. Sure, there have been shows on platforms like Netflix or Hulu that felt just as cinematic and epic as what’s on Disney+, but there is one thing that is currently making all the difference: week by week releases.
Streaming services have given an entire new meaning to binge culture. Hungry viewers are now accustomed to receiving everything at once, a method that is all but abandoned on Disney+. In the long run, it seems to be working out for them; The Mandalorian generated massive weekly discourse and buzz that simply would have fizzled if the show was released all at once. That also goes in part with the series being structured that way story-wise. Now with WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ first foray into television, the week by week format is being repeated.
While the new series generated an exceptional response from fans and critics alike in its first week, many are wondering if its sitcom style is enough for the week by week watch. Many are arguing that its devotion to the sitcom formula is no less perfect than the many fantastic programs that premiere on a weekly basis, while others think that even though this is true, it’s not enough for something on the scale of the MCU. Whatever side you pick isn’t going to change the obvious, the “all at once” binge is probably never going to happen with these huge shows on Disney+.
Diving into Marvel Studios’ ventures specifically, head honcho Kevin Feige is all for the week by week format. The topic of The Mandalorian‘s success came up during the press event for WandaVision, and the famed studio president didn’t hold back on how much of a fan he was. “There is lots and lots of The Mandalorian that has inspired us at Marvel Studios, not the least of which is the stage craft technology that they pioneered, that we’re using on some upcoming projects” he said. The technology in question refers to the advancements with LED stage production pioneered by ILM. Almost any type of lighting and atmosphere from any imaginable terrain can be replicated indoors now thanks to this tech. Some of the upcoming MCU shows Feige could be hinting at are Loki and Secret Invasion, since both deal with elements of Space travel. It’s no exaggeration that the television series Marvel has planned for Disney+ are just as epic as what they have planned for theaters, and Feige wholeheartedly sees the week by week roll out as a key factor in keeping this balance.
“One of the things I was always concerned about was to say, ‘Anything that we do, we want to eventize.’ We want to make people understand that these projects on Disney+ are as important as the projects going into theaters, and we want to feel that same excitement. The Disney marketing team is the best in the world, and the best of all time, frankly, right now, and they certainly showed that they can do that spectacularly on Disney+ with The Mandalorian.”
Feige’s schedule running Marvel Studios is packed with meetings and events on a daily basis, but from his words it’s clear that he squeezed in time to watch The Mandalorian as both a producer and a fan. “Sometimes series drop all at once on streaming services, and Disney I think was very smart to do the week by week because that conversation that happens every week I think is important and frankly just a lot of fun. And so each time I witnessed that and experienced that and joined in that with The Mandalorian, it got me excited for the way we had already been building WandaVision.”
So it’s safe to say that every upcoming MCU series is going to go be released on a weekly basis. Even for those who disagree with the method, it’s a nice change of pace from the previous iteration of Marvel streaming. Netflix released each of their Marvel shows all at once, and in hindsight, everyone can agree that it probably didn’t help as much in the long run. Shows like Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones – as great as they were – were also difficult to binge due to their time length. Another bonus WandaVision carries with being under 30 minutes from the start. Also, could you imagine getting an MCU series entirely spoiled on the internet just because you didn’t stay up to watch it all? Whatever side of the discourse you land on, it’s undeniable that such conversations wouldn’t be taking place if The Mandalorian or WandaVision got dropped all at once. Whatever dominates the streaming market is whatever doesn’t get buried under algorithms and the hype around fresh releases. And unsurprisingly, Kevin Feige seems to understand this clearly.