Disney Plus feels like, at least right now, merely a Star Wars and MCU factory, and that may not be enough. For as much as I am enjoying Clint Barton's holiday season adventures with Kate Bishop in Hawkeye, I keep thinking I might cancel Disney Plus soon.
And why is The House of The Mouse's streaming service always on the chopping block for me? Because of that aforementioned extremely narrow use case. And that's why I am thinking Disney Plus needs to find something new in 2022.
I'm not alone in this concern, it seems. The Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab) reported that Disney Plus isn't gaining new subscribers at the pace that analysts expected. And as I've been looking at the Disney Plus 2022 slate, I'm not seeing a need for more than just the same old same old. And I'd have a lot more trust in Disney Plus if it managed to pull something out of nothing, rather than just expanding characters we've already met.
You can only rewatch the MCU so many times
Right now, I've been catching my family up on all things Marvel. And we're about to be caught up. We're just a Hawkeye, Black Widow and a Shang-Chi away from being done with it all, and after that, I don't know how much I will be able to get them to care about it all.
I'll watch Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk because they seem great, but while I think the rumored Law & Order meets MCU hijinks of the latter may appeal to my L&O-loving parents, I'm not sure the first adventures of a teenage superhero will. Tatiana Maslany's already proven she can lead a show, and is reason enough to give She-Hulk a chance. Maybe they'll care about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. I hope that by then I'm not completely Chris Pratt'd out.
Marvel's Moon Knight could win audiences in on Oscar Isaac alone. The man is that damn charismatic. Secret Invasion? Sure, it's got Emilia Clarke and Olivia Colman, but the whole "Skrulls have infiltrated the upper echelons of power" story seems way too similar to the rise and fall of Hydra.
Similarly, I've seen Eternals, so I won't even mention it to my parents — they shouldn't have to suffer through its monotony and boring vibes. And so I'm starting to think that if I'd be frequently canceling and un-canceling Disney Plus if I didn't cover it for work at Tom's Guide. This isn't what Disney Plus wants to hear, that someone eager enough to see Spider-Man: No Way Home that he stayed up until midnight to buy tickets for opening night, is ready to be a part of the churn.
Churn — a term that subscription-based companies hate to admit is a real problem — is the act of cycling in and out of a service because it's not a constant need. Churn is arguably why Netflix throws everything it can at the walls to see what sticks. A constant fire-hose of new content gives subscribers at least an impression that they should keep their subscriptions for the off-chance the next Squid Game or Tiger King hits big.
Sequels and prequels can only go so far
Disney probably knows better than I do, when it comes to its audiences needs. Why else would we be getting Disenchanted (the Enchanted sequel, not the Matt Groening animated series), with Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden and Idina Menzel all reprising their roles? Similarly, Hocus Pocus 2 is happening. The latter makes more sense, as plays for nostalgia seem to win more often than not.
There's also Baymax!, the sequel series to the 2017 movie Big Hero Six. And while I'm not exactly giddy for this one, I can see that Disney's building a something for everyone approach here.
To that end Disney has tipped the world off to the incoming Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi series, which is supposed to land sometime in 2022. Currently, there are people excited to see Ewan McGregor's Jedi Master actually face off in a light saber duel with Hayden Christensen's Darth Vader. But you can't count me as one of them. When a story takes place before or inside of the chronology we already know? We already know Star Wars struggles with that. The Star Wars: Andor series, similarly, is a Rogue One prequel.
While fans of those characters may be interested enough to peek, the only incoming Disney Plus property with a lot of excitement behind it is Mandalorian season 3. But we don't even know when that is. Maybe The Book of Boba Fett will explain?
Where's Disney Plus' Stranger Things?
Maybe Disney Plus is cheaper than Netflix because it's not supposed to offer as much. It's the place for all of the Disney things you already know and love. But for those of us looking for something new? Without that, Disney Plus is awfully limited. Netflix has made a habit of being the home for new creations. I know Disney Plus is young, but it ought to start doing more in the unknown soon.
Because unless they can find a way to make a show out of every secondary and tertiary character — when is Peter Parker's brash boss J. Jonah Jameson going to be the center of a Newsroom-like series? — it's going to be hard to fill a calendar off of just Marvel and Star Wars.
Building new worlds people love could help with that. Maybe ask the folks at Pixar. They managed to get us to care about a toy cowboy.