The successful character development in Marvel’s Disney Plus shows

Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop and Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop and Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Marvel Studios' HAWKEYE. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

Marvel Studios’ Disney+ shows have successfully gone deeper into characters who don’t get a lot of screen time in the films.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the start of Marvel’s ambitious plans to cross over television and film storytelling.

Black Widow was a film that was marketed with multiple release dates and endless promotional material hoping for the world to improve, but it was unfortunately delayed again and lost its position as the first of Marvel’s Phase Four projects.

As a result, three Disney Plus shows premiered before it, ultimately pushing it into fourth position in the new phase.

Those Disney Plus shows marked the beginning of a new era for Marvel Studios, as they could now expand their stories over the course of multiple episodes (instead of just a two-hour movie), and one of the main benefits of that was how it impacted the characters.

“We Are An Unusual Couple”

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Elizabeth Olsen is Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany is Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. /

WandaVision was the perfect adrenaline kick into a new era and was the perfect showcase of what to expect with Marvel and how they would use their streaming platform.

The show was weird, meta, philosophical, and emotional, with its weekly release schedule gradually having more people engaged as the season went on. As this happened, speculation got out of hand, with fan theories running wild every week.

While the fan theories ended up being all wrong, what got people hooked was how it took chances with the format while spending more time with characters that don’t normally get a lot of screen-time.

Scarlet Witch and Vision probably have less than an hour of screen time in all their film appearances put together. As the title promises, WandaVision is literally all about them. In it, their unusual but romantic relationship is on full display. The whole show pays tribute to a bunch of TV sitcoms, from I Love Lucy to The Office, all serving their own meta-commentary on the story they are telling. There’s also the exploration of Wanda’s grief and trauma and what led her to make the decisions she’s made.

Their day-to-day life as a couple, the exploration of Wanda’s inner turmoil, and the TV commentary probably wouldn’t have been as effective in a theatrical film. In an episodic format, however, fans could just hang out with everyone’s favorite unusual couple.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

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(L-R): Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo by Julie Vrabelova. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

There was a lot to unpack in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s storyline but it was at its most fascinating when it was grounded and it focused on the relatable struggles of Sam Wilson.

It was interesting to see Sam coming to grips with his place in the world as the new Captain America and it was refreshing to see him in his Louisiana home as he found out that being an Avenger didn’t exactly secure his family’s future.

The deeper exploration of Bucky’s psyche and his complicated past made it feel like there were actual consequences to a character’s actions. He needed to make amends not only with the people he hurt but with himself in order to be better moving forward.

The Sam and Bucky dynamic was very reminiscent of old buddy cop films, like Lethal Weapon. They started off on shaky terms, being forced to work together because of their connection to Steve Rogers. Now that he’s gone, they had to get past their differences and form a natural bond. Of course, there’s the iconic moment of Sam, Bucky, and Zemo hanging out in the club that spawned countless gifs too!

Similar to Wanda and Vision, Sam and Bucky were side characters in the films, but now the groundwork has been laid for them to be A-listers.


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(L-R): Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

A lot of times, one’s biggest enemy is themselves, which most definitely applies to Loki. The God of Mischief has sabotaged every relationship in his life, due to his selfishness and deep-seated insecurities.

While Loki had already been redeemed in Thor: Ragnarok and by Infinity War, this show focuses on the alternate 2012 Loki who escaped with the Tesseract and just tried to take over New York.

The show would’ve been dull if it was just Loki getting redeemed again, but with the introduction of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), wacky timelines, and multiverses it was anything but dull.

It also went to another level of going into Loki’s behavior by literally making him look at the way his life plays out if he doesn’t change. His work helping out the TVA and his budding relationships with Mobius and Sylvie have evolved him into a fully fleshed out character.

Everyone’s Least Favorite Avenger

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(L-R): Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Mary Cybulski. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

It’s hard to prefer Hawkeye over the heroes he teams up with, but the MCU a lot of times has done him no favors.

He’ll always be the “least favorite Avenger”, but he is the most relatable one. He’s just a guy (with branding issues) who wants to get home so that he can be with his family during Christmas, but the clock is ticking.

In Hawkeye, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop are running around New York City during the holiday season getting into trouble with gangsters, LARPers, and a golden retriever who loves pizza. And in the midst of that, he’s suffering from PTSD, trying to make amends for his past, and learning how to be a mentor to someone who looks up to him.

The chemistry between Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld feels natural and it’s fun to see their interplay with the Christmas backdrop.

The rise of Marvel’s B-listers

The lines between film and television are blurry but each medium will continue to have an advantage over the other. Not every single aspect of these Disney+ Marvel shows has been perfect, but they excel in the areas they are successful in. They’ve done an exceptional job of adding more depth to characters who play supporting roles in the films. making them feel that much more well-rounded.

Whether it’s Wanda and Vision getting time to just be a couple, Sam and Bucky working on the boat, Loki and Mobius talking about time, or Clint and Kate having a Christmas movie marathon; these small moments paint these larger-than-life heroes in a new light and allow them to grow in the process. These characters will most definitely show up in the films again in the future, and when they do they will be much stronger than before, carrying more emotional weight and ultimately rewarding the viewers of these shows who went on those small screen journeys with them.

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Were you a fan of the Disney Plus Marvel shows? Did you enjoy the character development that took place? Let us know in the comments below!