Marvel says its new Disney Plus shows will be easier to jump into from now on, but I doubt it

Dardevil grimaces in a warehouse as he looks at an off-camera Maya Lopez in Marvel's Echo TV show
Daredevil: Born Again will tell a brand-new story, connect to his Netflix series, and be set in the wider MCU. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Marvel Television is back – or, at least the name is. Five years after the comic book giant's TV-focused subdivision, which was behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Netflix shows like Daredevil, was folded into Marvel Studios, the Disney subsidiary's new shows are getting their own dedicated banner to distinguish them from the sea of superhero flicks on Disney Plus.

That's right, as executives try to differentiate their small screen and big screen offerings, forthcoming shows like Ironheart, Daredevil: Born Again, and Agatha All Along will live under the Marvel Television banner. A key part of Marvel's new strategy, it seems, is helping these spin-off series work as standalone stories, without viewers needing an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to follow along.

Speaking to, Brad Winderbaum – Marvel's Head of TV, Streaming, and Animation – says that Marvel need to be "an open door for people to come in and explore", before adding: "You can jump in anywhere. They're interconnected but they're not. You don't have to watch A to enjoy B. You can follow your bliss. You can follow your own preferences and find the thing you want within the tapestry of Marvel."

The thinking is clear: in an age of superhero fatigue, and fears that the oversaturated genre may go the way of the Western, it makes sense to reduce pressure on viewers to watch everything in order to follow the action. There's simply too much Marvel content these days, and they'd rather you watched some than none of it. And, if a specific actor gets problematic, such as Marvel's firing of former Kang star Jonathan Majors, it should affect less of their movie roadmap or shake up their plans for the character.

The problem? Marvel is too invested in its sprawling world of cameos, crossovers, and timelines to fully disentangle everything on offer.

The multiverse problem

A sad Kang the Conqueror sits in his Time Chair in Ant-Man 3

Marvel is still re-evaluating its Phase 5 and Phase 6 plans in the wake of Majors' firing. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

A huge part of Marvel's cinematic success has been in its flurry of team-up movies, where characters from different films come together – a brilliantly effective peer pressure for buying numerous cinema tickets in order to follow various characters ahead of said team-ups. This thinking has seeped into pretty much every "standalone" property the MCU has, with recurring villains and heroes hovering in the background of each story, which in turn tells the audience why this spin-off series still matters

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law needed Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, Ms. Marvel needed to be introduced ahead of her debut in The Marvels, and so on. The MCU is so wary of letting characters stand on their own two feet that they have to be connected to an ever-growing web of superpower stories. And, frankly, it's exhausting to do homework on everything and everyone to stay on top of the next big cinematic event.

There are exceptions to this, mainly in the world of Marvel animation (X-Men '97, What If...?) and the odd live-action project like Moon Knight. But, with the X-Men soon to be entering the MCU (via Deadpool and Wolverine or another production), and the multiverse now underpinning numerous released and in-development Marvel movies (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Avengers 5, etc), I've lost all faith in Marvel learning any kind of restraint in letting its characters stand alone, away from the broader live-action MCU scaffolding.

As for its new TV shows, we have a character from prior TV show WandaVision in Agatha Harkness, Charlie Cox's Daredevil back from his self-titled Netflix series, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Ironheart getting her own spin-off series to contend with. All of these shows will pick up various plot threads from their predecessors, so when will Marvel actually allow us to "jump in anywhere" and not concern overselves with re-watching movies and shows before they air? A cursory rebranding doesn't make them independent from all of Marvel's interconnected noise, and it'll take more than comments from Winderbaum to prove it.

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Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.