Now that Disney Plus has at least two complete seasons of Marvel shows under its belt, it’s a good time to reflect on the Netflix catalogue and compare the efforts of both streaming giants.
Though production value is undeniably higher for Disney, Netflix was still able to churn out a plethora of quality content during it’s 3-year run with the comic book giant.
And sorry, but to put it simply, the Netflix shows were way better and here are some reasons why.
No Abbreviated Seasons
Although a lot of filler episodes in series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones were unnecessary, they still were mildly entertaining and bridged the viewer to the following episodes that moved the main plot forward. Sure, the 13 episode seasons came off bloated at times, but it allowed for effective character development and world building.
The Disney Plus shows rest way too much on the laurels of the MCU and do little world building outside of the flashbacks from the movies. The plots also seemed pretty rushed since both Wandavision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier are only six episodes each. Both of these shows feel like mini-series made to promote the next films rather than standalones that could get another season.
The Netflix Marvel universe had some of the most iconic and realistic villains we’ve ever seen on the big or small screen. Vincent D’Onofrio’s King Pin (Wilson Fisk) and David Tennant’s Killgrave were gritty, threatening and sociopathic enough to make me not ever want to be in the same room as either of them. My arms would literally shake when King Pin was on the screen during an episode of Daredevil.
The Disney villains such as Agnes from Wandavision and Karly Morgenthau from FATWS fall pretty short in terms of presenting real threats to our heroes who have just come off of a battle with Thanos, one of most powerful villains in all of comic books. Seeing the Winter Soldier being tossed around by a young adult just doesn’t seem believable, even if she did take the serum that he’s had for over 50 years.
Agnes, while a solid character, never for one moment seemed like she could take Wanda, nor did she even seem bad at all. She came across as very cartoonish and one dimensional where someone like Fisk was even likable in scenes with his fiancé and seemed like a normal person after bashing someone’s skull in.
The Netflix Marvel shows added a much needed realism to the MCU at a time when they were still considered a shared universe. The Netflix series, with the exception of Iron Fist, were gritty and grounded taking place in small neighborhoods that these heroes devoted themselves to protect.
Much like the larger MCU, the Disney shows feel very much like the heroes are working to save the world with the Flag Smashers from FATWS trying to sink all the world governments. These big events are better left to the movies where the budgets help the directors portray these armageddon scenarios in a more threatening manner. Marvel’s approach on Netflix complimented the big budget films by adding a street level element to the universe and the Disney Plus series kind of fumble that approach and opt to create extensions of the films instead.
Daredevil and Jessica Jones Surpassed the Comic Book Genre
Both Daredevil and Jessica Jones were critically acclaimed series and are good enough to watch without them being connected to a larger comic book universe. They explore adult themes like religion, alcoholism, rape, sex, abuse and morality and tell sophisticated stories rooted in the the problems of our modern world.
FAWTS attempted this with the story of Isaiah being a black man used and thrown away by his own government, and Falcon’s struggle with being the first black Captain America. However, this was still done on such a large scale and came off super preachy and somewhat forced due to today’s political climate.
Jessica Jones literally had to face her rapist in a battle to the death, and Daredevil would beat criminals to a bloody pulp and confess his sins to the priest presenting a complex relationship with religion that those of us in the real world can relate to. These were personal struggles done in a natural way, whereas, the racism conflicts in FATWS felt shoehorned in and were never foreshadowed in any of the preceding films.
Too Much Reliance on the Movies
Instead of rebuilding these characters from the ground up for the small screen, the Disney Plus series choose to rely heavily on the movies to give you the adequate background for these characters.
This falls most flat for Wanda who hadn’t been a major focus of any of the MCU films since 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. And let’s face it, that movie isn’t one of the most beloved.
And while Wanda got a little bit of back story, Falcon got a sister who we’ve never seen before a little bit of dialogue about their parents’ boat that he did not want to sell. Aside from that, there was nothing in the show about him experiencing racism as a child, or anything about his past struggles that could form a foundation for his present inner conflict. We are left to rely on a few films which basically show him as a seemingly content sidekick to a white man to show us his past struggles with race. This theme could have been better fleshed out had we explored more of his past.