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If there’s one thing that definitely won’t salvage the MCU’s small screen future, it’s quadrupling the number of episodes

Six episodes certainly isn't enough, but let's not over correct.

Emilia Clarke as G'iah in 'Secret Invasion'
Screenshot via Marvel Studios/Disney Plus

The MCU‘s attempt to bring its stories to the small screen have met with middling success.

Some of the Disney Plus Marvel series have done remarkably well, but none quite reached the heights of their big-screen companions. These days, television is where its at, but the MCU can’t quite seem to nail its televised formula. More than ten shows in, it’s still struggling to find something that works, and viewers are starting to get sick of the same old formula.

This was reinforced by the recent Secret Invasion finale. The show itself was reasonably good, despite its creators watching far too-few spy thrillers before attempting it, but broad agreement points to a universally disappointing finale. The show’s final fight came and went too fast, its conclusion was dissatisfying, and overall it failed to impress pretty much everyone.

The answer to this problem could come in several forms, but one fan thinks they’ve got it figured out. They’re recommending the MCU return to the format preferred by Agents of Shield, with far lengthier, in-depth seasons that hit double digit episode counts. Noting the severely under-explored story in Secret Invasion — and several other MCU series — Reddit user APater6076 is adamant that they’d prefer “a 20-22 episode run with some filler episodes than a truncated 5-6 episode series with little time for story telling or character development.”

Its a fair point, particularly in the wake of yet another too-brief series, but 20 episodes of that meandering story doesn’t sound great either. Longer seasons are certainly a must, but I stand with the majority of commenters in advising a middle ground. Seasons with six to eight episodes absolutely must go, no argument there, but maybe we can find solid footing somewhere in the 12-14 episode count.

The MCU simply hasn’t proved itself capable of keeping a full 20 episode series interesting. I’ve enjoyed several of its Disney Plus releases so far, with She-Hulk and Loki serving as particular favorites, but none of them impressed like, say, Arcane or Good Omens. Even Netflix’s Bodyguard served up more surprises than Secret Invasion, and it boasted around half the budget. How, exactly, are they managing to spend so much money on such lackluster releases?

Perhaps APater6076 is onto something. With longer seasons, those MCU series would have far more opportunity to expand on new storylines, flesh out characters, and really get audiences engaged in the story. The issue that will likely prevent this from ever happening? That doesn’t appear to be the goal over at Marvel Studios.

Rather than make attempts to create actually engaging stories that are worthy all on their own, Marvel and Disney appear to be focused on making purely supplemental stories. Each of the stories told on Disney Plus, with a few rare exceptions, link back to other (bigger) MCU releases. Ms. Marvel introduces Kamala so she needs far less background in The Marvels. Loki introduced Kang so he could kick his way into those big screen releases. WandaVision gave Wanda an opportunity to properly transform into Scarlet Witch, and Secret Invasion clearly set the stage for other future MCU releases.

The problem is in the process, not necessarily the length. The MCU is making shows as a means to an end, rather than for the sake of the story. Rather than create fresh series to genuinely tell worthy stories, expand on characters, and truly provide a different MCU experience, the big wigs are focused on all the wrong things. And until they get their heads on straight, they’re going to continue producing lackluster television. They seemingly remain unconvinced by the true validity of streaming, despite consistently diminishing box office returns and fluctuating viewership numbers. Television might just be the only route to saving the MCU — but the way it’s currently going, it’s nothing but a death knell.

Nahila Bonfiglio
About the author

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.