There’s a lot happening over at Disney since Sunday’s announcement that Bob Iger will return as CEO and take back control of Disney after passing the torch to Bob Chapek. It’s not every day that a former executive just takes over a position shortly before the holidays and with an announcement on a Sunday of all things. Not even a day later, the development continued with Chapek‘s right-hand man, Kareem Daniel, leading the streaming revolution also leaving the company, someone who had much more control over projects than some might think.
Now, the big question is what exactly this new direction means for Disney and especially Disney+. The streaming market has hit a bumpy road once things calmed down with the pandemic. In many ways, we saw a slight counter-development as people finally felt safer going out again, which lead to many doubts about the potential and profitability of the streaming market. Netflix hasn’t helped in that regard with them throwing as much money as they can against the wall to find their “next big franchise” for better and for worse.
The rise finds demand also showed its fangs with Marvel Studios, who started producing a few Disney+ shows and started ramping up as demand during the pandemic skyrocketed. While some believe it turned into a “quantity over quality” matter, one cannot deny that Marvel made the best of the situation, as it filmed many of its projects during the pandemic with many restrictions holding them back. In a perfect world, the studio may have kept its originally planned course and developments but this isn’t about what ifs.
What we are aiming to talk about is what will be, as Iger‘s return and Daniel‘s exit raise some interesting questions about what this means for Disney+ moving forward. The most important aspect is that creatives are back in the center, a significant showcase of what made his reign stand out as the company’s leading man. The dangers of algorithm-driven filmmaking have always shown their thorns throughout streamings history and this could rejuvenate hope in the market.
Not just that, but it also likely hints at Marvel Studios gaining a bit more control over how they tackle the development of their series. At this point, Marvel Studios is capable of pumping out up to four or five series per year. Not a small undertaking for any production company in the markets even if it expanded to do just that. They made the best of the situation with some of Marvel Studio’s most out-there and creator-driven projects yet. Still, Iger’s return might mean the studio has a bit more control over just how much they produce.
Many are quite concerned about R-rated content on Disney+, but that might not truly be an issue. The Star expansion internationally and a strong focus on more adult content were already put in motion before Iger left his position. He even highlighted Deadpool during the 20th Century Fox acquisition. We might still see some more family-friendly offerings in the future, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll suddenly force projects to become more PG-13, especially with how the studio has been growing with its new library. Of course, this is just speculation and nothing concrete outside of some fear of the old Disney model showing its hands.
There is one major aspect that could see a shift; even if it won’t be noticeable immediately. Up until now, Chapek’s goal was to drive subscriber numbers as fast as possible. To do so, they needed to bet on their cash cow to do exactly that, which was Marvel Studios and even Lucasfilm. So, they faced the challenge of having to push out as much as possible to keep that number growing. While Marvel studios might have been just as ambitious, it’s hard to not think there was some growing demand internally to get out as much as possible.
As noted, whatever the aftermath will be from Iger‘s return, we won’t see it for quite some time. Daniel leaving was the first signal that a new yet familiar era is set to return to the company and Marvel Studios will likely reflect that development. We might see them dial it back once the current projects that are already in production have been released. The Multiverse Saga is generally the Marvel Cinematic Universe going through its sophomore season and with post-Endgame blues affecting some, they can currently use the era to experiment.
The Disney+ shows are a new venture for the production company, and Marvel Studios tried to take its cinematic experience into a new market; with the help of Marvel TV’s experience after merging with the division. One can feel about their consistency in quality one way or another, but it’s definitely been interesting to see Marvel go beyond its usual ventures in many ways. Special Presentations opened up the possibility to move away from high-budget series with unique ventures and who knows if we’ll see more of those moving forward.
Iger‘s era is just about to begin, and we’ll very likely be stuck with many questions for some time. We don’t know if they’ll replace Davis and rebuild the streaming division, or potentially take a completely different direction moving forward. Perhaps Marvel will have more control over its own segments connected to the streamer, as originally envisioned when the Disney+ venture first started picking up steam. Whatever the future may bring, all eyes will be on Kevin Feige on how he’ll tackle this new direction.