Disney recently announced (to the collective shrieks of fans everywhere) that their new streaming service would have Marvel original content of its own. While pre-existing shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, Punisher, Runaways, etc won’t be making the jump; Disney will be doing stories featuring the likes of Loki and the Scarlet Witch. While not a bad idea per se, it’s hard not to feel like we’re entering an age of Marvel glut. That is of course, odd to say when there’s Marvel stuff everywhere and the movies continually make money hand over fist. Certainly, Marvel isn’t in danger of vanishing any time soon, but it’s hard not to feel like there’s too much going on with Marvel in television; and when you include the Fox immigrants, that list gets bigger. To start with, here’s the list of currently running television shows:
By any measure, that’s a relatively large list of shows. Considering the routine turnover from one show to the next (on Netflix anyway), as well as just the sheer amount of content, that’s difficult to keep up with. DC has a smaller list of shows (well, that is before the launch of Titans, Swamp Thing, and so forth) and even I had to eventually prune that down to just Black Lightning because the required crossovers and commitment required were just tiring. In fairness though, the shows don’t generally have the problem of constant crossovers since they’re largely gated off from each other. That being said, while superheroes in and of themselves aren’t a genre, it’s hard not to feel like the amount of content that already exists is too much. This isn’t to say there should be no new shows at all, I’m up for a Daughters of the Dragon show as much as anyone else, but there needs to be some restraint.
In addition, it’s worth keeping in mind just how much this burnout might end up simply cannibalizing the existing viewer bases of these shows. The sheer amount of streaming services and channels in division here: Disney’s, Netflix, Hulu, Freeform, FX. There’s also an inherent limit to how much time people can devote, given the sea of content vying for people’s attention. When an ungodly chunk of that is just simply Marvel content, eventually that will force a choice with which shows to watch. After all, Marvel may be a large chunk of the pop culture landscape, but it isn’t and can’t be all of it.
To some degree that means these shows will suffer the consequences of those choices by viewers. It’s easier to keep up with the movies after all, since those are only a couple of hours. When there’s a multitude of shows, ones that are already (to a degree) inherently boxed off from the films that helped to create this popularity, and now on top of that content featuring characters from the movies? That’s hard not to read as Marvel inadvertently creating a tier system among its content, with the Disney streaming content occupying the highest rung of the ladder. While I’m sure Marvel will pull through ultimately, it’s definitely teetering toward just too much. For this viewer at least, it’s going to be a tough choice picking and choosing what to watch. It may be worth Marvel’s time to consider the same going forward.