Before the pandemic came along and threw a spanner in the works of the entire world, the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s Phase Four expansion plans were crystal clear. The feature films would continue to premiere exclusively in theaters, while the episodic shows would roll out on Disney Plus. But it hasn’t been quite that straightforward.
After 2020 brought no new content from the world’s biggest franchise at all, last week’s premiere of Marvel’s What If…? marked the fourth streaming series to debut since January. Meanwhile, Black Widow was hit with a Premier Access hybrid release that ended up opening a whole can of worms, culminating in Scarlett Johansson suing Disney.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will play in theaters for just 45 days, but depending on how the martial arts fantasy blockbuster fares at the box office, the jury is still very much out on what the future holds for Eternals. However, a new rumor claims that Marvel Studios could end up developing feature films with no intention of sending them to cinemas, bolstering the Disney Plus roster even further.
As per the report, the recent promotion of exec Brad Winderbaum to Head of Streaming, Television, and Animation at Marvel Studios is a move that won’t only take some of the burden off Kevin Feige’s shoulders, but could potentially lead to both live-action and animated Disney Plus movies complementing the TV shows.
Further details are scarce, so it remains entirely speculative for now, but the effects of COVID-19 have had a seismic impact on the industry. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world were Marvel to look at giving lesser-known characters their own standalone films that would air only on Disney Plus.