Disney Plus is kind of depressing. A year into the service’s life-span and I can count on one hand how many properties they’ve released that made social media buzz: The Mandalorian, Hamilton, Mulan, and… oh my gosh, I think that’s it.
And, keep in mind, both Hamilton and Mulan weren’t supposed to release on Disney Plus this year. Mulan bounced around its theater date, and Hamilton was going to come release next year!
While certain streaming platforms are running out of backlog content to release amidst the Coronavirus pandemic (Netflix, eventually), and other production companies can’t get back to work considering all that’s going on (RIP The Batman), Disney Plus is in a different situation: They simply underestimated how much new content they needed to release each month to gauge general interest.
And while other projects like Stargirl or even Onward’s early digital release gave a bit of content to the platform, there’s not a whole lot to work on or produce. People are still stuck at home. So, it’s a welcome change seeing new material in the form of Marvel’s 616 arrive on Disney Plus.
From what people can garner about Marvel’s 616, apart from the fun cameo of both Birds of Prey and My Hero Academia, each episode will feature a different cultural aspect of the Marvel community. Fandom culture alone comprises a massive amount of fanart, cosplay (costume play, for the uninitiated), fan-fiction (writing non-canon stories with licensed characters), and other fun art projects. I remember purchasing a neat custom earring from a convention vendor, and while purchasing fun and creative knick-knacks at conventions can be cool, it’s also fun to learn about how the things we love are made.
Which is probably where, as far as I’m concerned, the more interesting aspects of Marvel 616 will be. Based off the trailer, it looks like we’ll get a sneak-peak at how some of the cultural shifts at Marvel Comics have taken place. For instance, there are more female writers and characters than ever. Marvel’s pursuit of representation has received a strange level of criticism at times, but that doesn’t stop them from pursuing great characters like Kamala Khan (or, Ms. Marvel), and my personal favorite, Gwenpool (a character perfect for an on-screen adaption. Make it happen, Feige!).
Alongside that, Marvel’s 616 touts “8 unique filmmakers” at the helm of each episode. Those film-makers include Gillian Jacobs and Allison Brie (who some may recognize from Community), Paul Scheer (prolific TV and Film actor known for many geeky projects), Sarah Ramos (from Parenthood), and a few others. Documentaries make for a fun playground for film-makers to show off a personal flare and interest in their subject matter, so it’ll be neat to see where each director carries their episodes.
I don’t think it would be unfound to say self-proclaimed fans and convention goers are on life-alert. What-with social distancing practices, mask-wearing, and other difficult restrictions, just an image of a convention hall or a packed comic-book store is enough to elicit endorphins (or, maybe panic, cause my first thought is, “You’re gonna catch the ‘rona!”). It’s been a long, several months, and for people who find joy and excitement in the community building exercises of convention panels, park meetups, or spotting fans in the wild, something like Marvel’s 616 could be a light shot-in-the-arm to keep people’s fandom motivation alive.
If that doesn’t work, there’s always The Mandalorian Season 2, which starts its run in a matter of days, and WandaVision, which is looking to be an emotionally challenging and cerebral experience. And all of this after the digital DC Fandome event, I think there’s a lot of fun things going on in fandom culture right now. Frankly, people are just happy to look forward to something, and that’s always a great thing.
Description: Marvel’s 616 explores Marvel’s rich legacy of pioneering characters, creators and storytelling to reflect the world outside your window. Each documentary, helmed by a unique filmmaker, showcases the intersections of storytelling, pop culture, and fandom within the Marvel Universe. Episodes in this anthology series will cover topics including Marvel’s world-spanning artists, the trailblazing women of Marvel Comics, discovering the “forgotten” characters of Marvel, and much more.
Creator: The Walt Disney Company
Release Date: November 20th
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Melvin Benson is the Founder, Executive Editor, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!