When Final gamestory to an end, fans knew the MCU would have to evolve from their tried and true methods. With this revelation came the idea of including canon shows in the MCU, and thus the Disney+ shows were born. These shows will continue existing stories on a smaller, albeit impactful, scale.
While there are certainly missteps, such as the pacing mimicking a film structure rather than a TV structure, there are still many positives. The Disney+ shows offer a plethora of new ideas and even improve on old ones. From diving into the unknown to taking familiar characters and making them more three-dimensional, the Disney+ shows have made Phase 4 all the better.
The stories can be longer
With Final game as the longest running MCU film to date and one of the most successful as well, there was a realization that fans would stick with one story for a long time. But even if Final game was its own beast, they wanted to continue the longer stories that remained after the official “end” of several major players.
While Marvel movies are known for having sequels and such, they usually tell different stories in each entry. For example the Captain America movies The Winter Soldier and Civil War are intertwined but tell two different stories at the end of the day. With the addition of The Falcon and the Winter Soldierit’s a singular story that’s been released, despite small narrative arcs.
New faces were introduced and established
It’s no secret that the MCU has used the same names and faces to tell its stories, but those stories received a massive conclusion in Phase 3. This meant that Phase 4 was tasked with keeping the same momentum of characters as the previous phases.
The Disney+ shows helped introduce and establish more characters and their places in the MCU than the movies have done before. Shang Chi was the only new character to fully get his own story in the films, but characters like Kate Bishop, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk could have their own stories in the Disney+ realm.
The three-dimensionality of characters was better explored
While Age of Ultron and Final game told a bit about who Clint Barton was, his character in the MCU fell a bit short. However, with Hawkeye Disney+ show, his character felt much more three-dimensional and believable.
However, Clint isn’t the only person to get this treatment on Disney+. Loki could reflect on his bad decisions and see another Loki and how they entered (and exited) their universe. Wanda was also explored more thoroughly, particularly how her trauma from childhood to her unfortunate loss of the love of her life.
MCU Lore gets to expand faster
The multiverse was a loose thread that was first discussed in phase 3 with the old i Infinite War. This thread was pulled Final game but not necessarily filled in before Loki.
The Disney+ series Loki explained the multiverse and the lore of the MCU as fans knew it. Of course, what fans knew then is different now with the death of He Who Remains. Something like this in earlier phases might have been an arc of Thanos proportions, but due to the time dedicated to it Lokithis catastrophic event occurred in six episodes.
Unknown territory was explored
Due to Loki’s effects and He Who Remains’ death, the multiverse was allowed to happen. What if…? explores different avenues that could have happened in the main timeline, but since it didn’t, those instances still exist in the multiverse.
What if…? concepts have even been partially explored in the sacred timeline, with the film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While the evil Doctor Strange in that film is not the same, it is interesting to see this type of character in live-action. Not only that, but who can forget Captain Carter’s live-action appearance and death in the same movie of Phase 4? Neither inclusion would have been as impactful What if…? the series had not partially proposed the idea at first.
Netflix Marvel characters were officially reintroduced
It’s no secret that the cancellation of the Netflix Marvel show caused an uproar in the fandom, so when news of a canon MCU show was in the works, fans of the MCU were excited, but still wary. However, the Disney+ shows managed to reintroduce a few characters and revive fan interest.
Hawkeye officially reintroduced Wilson Fisk as the Kingpin in the MCU. While Fisk’s appearance and defeat in the show was criticized, it showed that Marvel was listening. And although Daredevil was reintroduced in the Spider-Man: No Way Homehis inclusion in the show She-Hulk: Lawyer made his reinstatement all the more real.
The Disney+ series added more emotional depth to the MCU
It’s this unforgettable, gut wrenching line WandaVision: “But what is grief, if not love enduring?” It’s no secret that the MCU is primarily geared towards being action-packed, and with so much action, there’s little time for respite. In short, prior to Stage 4, emotional depth was few and far between.
This is not to say that Phases 1-3 had no feelings and heartfelt ideas. Tony’s brief and terrible relationship with his father, Bruce having depression due to his lack of control over the Hulk, and Natasha’s time in the Red Room are just a few examples of the depth that the MCU introduced. Yet, unfortunately, there wasn’t much room for their stories to fully flesh out. While Marvel movies can’t always slow things down, the Disney+ series managed to, giving great emotional depth to new and old characters.
They can be viewed at a viewer’s own pace
The TV format often gives more power to the viewer with how to take a break in episodes, and when it comes to Marvel, that break feels necessary. Marvel thrives on a viewer’s prior knowledge of the franchise, and sitting down for a movie marathon has a different pace than playing a show.
The Disney+ shows relieve the fast-paced nature of a movie and allow viewers to take a breather if necessary. This is especially true since Disney+ series do not exceed eight episodes. While there are some complaints about the shows’ pacing and the length of a season, fans can’t deny that the power TV offers an excellent advantage to these disadvantages.
Weekly episodes encouraged fan theories and interaction
“It’s Mephisto!” fans would proclaim during the weekly release of WandaVision. The theories and conclusions people would draw throughout the broadcast of each Disney+ show was one of the highlights of the shows.
A brief respite between episodes encourages fan interaction and insight. This can also be said with the big movies, but there is something even more common regarding TV show theories compared to movie theories. Also, Mrs. MarvelThe first prominent declaration that she is a mutant means that the X-Men theories finally have some ground to stand on.
More time was dedicated to character over plot
Marvel movies are usually very plot heavy and it’s almost always a fun time. But while there’s value in plot-driven stories, Marvel helped make the Disney+ shows delve more into character, to drive Phase 4 forward.
Showing as WandaVision and Moon Knight were more character heavy than plot, and the MCU is better for it. Regarding WandaVision, the dedication the Disney+ show put into establishing more character aspects rather than plot made the show stand out as a Marvel product. Likewise, Moon Knight’s complex background was explored deeply enough to have a character that isn’t tied directly to anything established in the MCU yet—still somehow within the larger equation—appealing to viewers.
NEXT: 10 Ways Disney+ MCU Shows Hurt Phase 4