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The Disney Loophole and How Marvel TV Shows are Changing

Marvel TV shows on Disney Plus
Credit: Marvel Studios, Canva

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in for another big change when it comes to how Marvel TV shows get churned out on Disney Plus. Captain America and Black Panther dominate on the big screen, but how different are the limited miniseries based on Marvel Comics from the feature films? Fans are starting to think Marvel Studios may not be able to tell the difference between its movies and its TV show offerings.

So what’s next for Marvel Entertainment, and how are they exploiting a shady Disney loophole?

Marvel TV Shows or Six-Hour Movies?

Marvel TV shows have often been praised for their ability to create a cinematic experience within a television format, although one recurring sentiment is that their Disney Plus shows feel more like six-hour movies cut up into episodes rather than true television series. This sentiment is shared by both fans and critics alike, and it’s not hard to see why. The high production value that Marvel Studios brings to their TV projects definitely immerses viewers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but sometimes the Studios’ affinity for rich storytelling and character development can leave fans wanting more.

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in Marvel Studios WandaVision

Credit: Marvel Studios

While these shows have overarching plotlines that unfold over the course of multiple episodes and offer a deeper exploration of characters’ backstories, motivations, and personal growth, they often only last one season. As a result, viewers become deeply invested in the lives of these superheroes, only to be cut off without hope for a season two, which may have never been in the cards in the first place.

A good example of this is the wildly popular hit series WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as the title characters. The interconnectedness of the events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), End Game (2019), and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) are strengthened by the overall storytelling in WandaVision and thrillingly mark continuity through the franchise. But the show’s ninth episode ended the narrative with fans dying to see more! Luckily, a “spin-off” series based on Wanda’s nemesis, Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), is coming to Disney Plus soon! However, it is unclear if it will serve as a totally new idea or as a pseudo season two to its predecessor.

The Marvels with Brie Larson and team

Credit: Marvel Studios

On the other hand, recent shows like Secret Invasion, starring Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, left fans wanting more in a bad way. Viewers felt like the show wasn’t entirely necessary and tried to force way too much information in six episodes. In addition to other Marvel TV shows with only one season like Ms. Marvel starring Iman Vellani and Kamala Kahn, Secret Invasion served as a precursor to Marvel’s next big feature film, The Marvels.

Fans are starting to feel like the TV shows are subservient to the films and dislike the lack of continuation of their favorite shows.

Marvel Television With a Season Two

In contrast, there is at least one live-action Marvel series on Disney Plus that has just begun its second season, and that’s Loki. Unlike WandaVision, Secret Invasion, Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Moon Knight, Loki’s time-jumping story is set up for a life beyond one season. While Loki connects to events of Marvel Studio’s feature films, the series is able to stand alone enough to tell its own story without catering to an external theatrical release date. Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson returned in Loki season two just this past week.

And fans are thrilled!

News of a season two for Disney Plus’ She-Hulk series is still only rumored at this point, but fans of the show are looking for more of the quirky female-led episodic.

So How Are Marvel Shows Changing, and What Is This Disney Loophole?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Marvel culture of television production doesn’t align with that of normal studios. While a television pilot is usually commissioned for a new show, Marvel went ahead with $150 million full season shoots. Normally, showrunners would be hired to lead a project, but Marvel used its film executives to run the series instead. Basically, Marvel was, in fact, treating its TV shows as it treated its films. But somewhere, probably when fans started wanting actual television arcs and not feature films released as episodes, Marvel’s approach had to change.
Loki on Disney Plus season one

Credit: Marvel Studios

Brad Winderbaum (Marvel’s head of streaming, television, and animation) says, “We’re trying to marry the Marvel culture with the traditional television culture. It comes down to, ‘How can we tell stories in television that honor what’s so great about the source material?’” Now, Marvel TV shows will have proper showrunners with written pilots and show bibles and focus on multiseason serialized TV rather than the limited series format.
You may have heard, however, that when a Disney show passes the season 3 mark, there’s a pretty shady loophole that undercuts most of the crew and creatives working on the project. According to former Disney star Joey Bragg, a show will be slightly rebranded and start over at season one. Here’s his description from a Cash Cuties interview:

…Like Hannah Montana Forever and Suite Life On Deck. They have a deal with, I don’t know if it’s the unions or the AMPTP, but they had a deal where the first three seasons of a show, you get paid 88% of scale. So it’s 88% of like minimum wage, pretty much, for the crew, and then the idea is, you work on a show, it becomes popular, you go four, five, six seasons, and you get 100%, or whatever that is. But then, by the third season, even if the show’s popular, they reboot it as a brand new show. So, we were Liv and Maddie for the first three seasons, and the last season was Liv and Maddie: Cali Style.

Matt Murdock aka Daredevil for Marvel

Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel has already shown their willingness to take this route with its reboot of Matt Murdock’s story, Daredevil, after season three, now called Daredevil: Born Again, which is currently in production.

How do you think Marvel Entertainment’s content will change after adopting aspects of normal television industry procedures? However, if fans are treated to multiple seasons of a show, they most likely can expect a rebrand if the story continues.

About Lana Porter

Lana has never lost a Disney Trivia night. Maybe it’s the hundreds of times she’s been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, her love for Disney’s ’90’s era hand-animated musicals, or the fact that she’s often likened to cartoon characters, but Disney and its magic have a special place in her heart. Her favorite Disney experiences include the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, eating Mickey Bars on the PeopleMover, and crying during the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. One day she hopes to be chosen as the rebel spy on Star Tours. When Lana isn’t Park Hopping, she’s at home reading books of all topics, watching her favs on Disney+, or snuggling her two cats, which she swears are not named after Disney characters. She loves surprising people with her knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but admits she is still catching up with Star Wars. She is happy to combine her excitement for writing with her love for Disney-style storytelling and share what she can with the world!