Why Marvel Studios Legends Is Needed
Having concluded the Infinity Saga and wrapped up Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2019, Marvel entered Phase 4 in January 2021 with WandaVision. To accompany the release of WandaVision, Disney released a new show on Disney+ called Marvel Studios Legends. This show is intended to act as a highlights package for specific Marvel characters in order to give fans a recap of their journey so far within the MCU before we join them on their latest adventures. This show will likely add more episodes as new MCU Disney+ shows and films are released but so far, we have two episodes focused on Wanda Maximoff and Vision to prepare for their Disney+ series.
While Marvel Studios Legends offered a fun look at the MCU so far, going forward it may be integral to the franchise’s future. From Iron Man in 2008, to Spider-Man: Far from Home in 2019, the MCU spanned twenty-three feature films and runs for nearly fifty hours. This is only going to expand exponentially going forward too, with the introduction of Disney+ series running alongside the theatrical films. While we don’t have official run times for the projects releasing this year, we can speculate that the MCU will add around thirty hours of new content across the ten films and series.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe potentially running for around eighty hours by the end of 2021, the franchise could run into a big issue. Where do new fans jump on?
I am a huge fan of what Marvel has built and I have followed its evolution from the very beginning. Many people however have jumped in later than myself, and have gone back and watched the saga from Iron Man in order to be up to date with all of the characters. As the MCU has grown, this has become more and more of an undertaking and one that will only become more challenging as 2021 and Phase 4 continues. While I will always encourage new fans to go back and watch all of the MCU from the beginning, this just might not be feasible for people to fit into their lives, especially with new content releasing almost monthly going forward. This is where Marvel Studios Legends could play a key role.
While the currently released episodes of Marvel Studios Legends will give existing fans a good recap of Wanda and Visions story so far, it certainly isn’t enough to get those unfamiliar with the franchise up to date. The concept of Marvel Studios Legends is one that absolutely can be expanded on however, especially as it is listed on the same page as other MCU content on Disney+. There is a way I think Marvel should evolve the Marvel Studios Legends brand in order for it to benefit those new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What makes the MCU so special is how it all ties together and builds upon the overarching narrative. I think Marvel should play into this, even with their recap show, and include The Watchers. For those that don’t know, The Watchers are a celestial race that oversees the Marvel universe. They observe and catalogue the events of the universe without actually interfering. We have seen them briefly in the post credit scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and we will have one of them narrate the ‘What If…?’ Disney+ series later in 2021.
Marvel should utilise these characters further and have them be the ones that narrate the events of the MCU so far in the Marvel Studios Legends episodes. Especially as they have hired the incredible Jeffrey Wright to be the voice of Uatu, one of The Watchers in What If..?. This added layer of world building would tie Marvel Studios Legends into the MCU in a way that other recap shows could never achieve. With that in mind, there are two types of Marvel Studios Legends episodes that I think Marvel should create.
These would expand on what Marvel Studios Legends has already has released, focussing on specific characters and their journey so far. As previously mentioned, these give a good reminder to those that have seen all the films but will likely make little sense to those that haven’t watched the relevant films. If Marvel were to do an episode for each character or team in the MCU, with The Watcher narrating their specific moments, these would provide a genuine option for new fans wanting to catch up. With the narration coming from an ‘in universe’ character, Marvel could then take the opportunity to add new information and context to characters that helps flesh out the MCU further.
These would be longer episode that recap the events of each phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While not exploring every event of each film, they would cover the key moments and provide viewers with the overarching narrative that leads up to each Avengers film. As with the character episodes, the inclusion of The Watcher could allow for Marvel to add in additional law and backstory to characters that would also provide existing fans with a reason to watch each episode.
If Marvel was to take this approach, they could recap the entire MCU up until the culmination of Phase 3. Going forward they could then add in new episodes that update each character’s story at the end of each phase or perhaps annually. This would help bookmark each chapter in the MCU and give regular jumping off points as the franchise continues to grow and evolve.
Although none of this is essential for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to continue, I do believe it is needed to help make the MCU less intimidating for newcomers. The very existence of Marvel Studios Legends signals to me that Marvel knows this too. I just hope they take this opportunity to develop this show further to make it a true visual guide to the incredible universe they are crafting.
For now though, you can check out episodes 1 and 2 of Marvel Studios Legends on Disney+. Be sure to keep an eye out for more episodes as they drop as well as information on any expansion to the concept if and when they choose to do so.