It looks like Marvel Studios’ current new direction with Disney+ is causing a stir again, as a report by Variety has revealed that many industry experts are wary of their new strategy. Usually, shows are produced by a showrunner, who pretty much organizes the production, directors, writers, and maps out the overall story. In Marvel’s case, these shows have a head writer but don’t actually include anyone with the title of showrunner. It has been openly communicated by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige but has somehow managed to fall under the radar until now. As Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s Kari Skogland put it, they are using “the features model.” That means that they are adapting their production methodology from filmmaking in their new long-form format rather than fully embracing classic television conventions. She had the following to say on the process:
It’s a nuance, but it’s one that I think is being embraced more and more because the job honestly in these big, epic miniseries or shows is too big,” says Skogland, who’s also an executive producer. “I was in the writers’ room so that I could really absorb what was being said and be part of the process by floating ideas. As we were going through production, we would workshop scenes and then ask for rewrites on things. So [Malcolm Spellman] was still very much a part of the whole process, but it’s a slightly different mechanical way it comes down. Honestly, it’s very effective and efficient, because it’s just too much work for any one person.
Marvel Studios is well-known in the industry for its unorthodox approach, which allowed them to establish 23 interconnected films. Of course, switching up the cinematic landscape and adding a new level of restrictions comes at a price, as peers will doubt its validity in making television. It brought back a discussion regarding the creative autonomy that showrunners usually hold and if this will lead to the studio losing talent. David Goodman, the president of Writers Guild of America West, has shown his concern for the model but highlights how unique Marvel Studios is as a case in the industry.
If Marvel still wants to have its product be at the standard that people are coming to expect from it, they’re going to need good writers, and they’re going to have to invest those writers with responsibility. I stand in awe of what they’ve done at Marvel. Others have tried, and they haven’t succeeded
Yet, there are some legitimate concerns about the approach. Kevin Feige and the companies’ future vision for the Marvel Cinematic Universe acts as the main showrunner connecting it. It is an environment that won’t interest every type of creative out there, which could lead to some strife, which we’ve seen back in the day with Edgar Wright. Though, it isn’t uncommon for industry experts to fear strong changes to the status quo. Its implementation may serve the MCU’s expansion and won’t become an ongoing standard, which also makes Marvel Studios a perfect jumping-on point for talent. It is the same environment that gave Malcolm Spellman the chance to expand into film with Captain America 4.