Even for the biggest Marvel fans, it has started to get exhausting trying to keep up with the MCU. Frankly, it all feels like homework: rather than genuinely wanting to watch something like Secret Invasion, we feel we need to in order to understand The Marvels…a film that also won’t make sense if you haven’t watched Ms. Marvel. Marvel Spotlight might be the answer to this fatigue.
Echo Is First Marvel Spotlight Series
Now, it looks like Marvel will be giving out less homework: Uproxx reports that Echo will be the first “Marvel Spotlight” show, and these shows are designed so that audiences can enjoy them without knowing much else about the MCU.
Using Echo as an example, it’s clear that creating Marvel Spotlight shows is a way that Disney will try to have its cake and eat it, too. Because that show is a spinoff, enjoyment of it will certainly be enhanced if fans have watched the previous Daredevil show on Netflix (which introduced returning characters Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk) or Hawkeye on Disney+ (which introduced Echo star Maya Lopez).
Appeal To Viewers Who Haven’t Watched Marvel
However, the show has also been designed to appeal to new fans or even franchise newcomers who just want to enjoy a good series without having to do a bunch of streaming homework.
By way of comparison, Head of Streaming Brad Winderbaum described Marvel Spotlight like this: “Just like comics fans didn’t need to read Avengers or Fantastic Four to enjoy a Ghost Rider Spotlight comic, our audience doesn’t need to have seen other Marvel series to understand what’s happening in Maya’s story.”
It’s a rather simple storytelling principle that actually hearkens back to the wisdom of Stan Lee, who once allegedly said that “every comic is someone’s first.”
Done well, a Spotlight show is a great way to welcome new fans into the fold that would otherwise be turned away by worries they need to watch the last dozen MCU productions.
Too Many Boring Entries
With any luck, this technique will also appeal to existing Marvel fans who are getting burned out by feeling like they must watch every boring new Marvel entry (we’re talking about you, The Eternals) because it might someday be important.
Spoiler: that Celestial body in the ocean will probably never play a major role and is probably already forgotten by most Marvel writers.
The other primary function of Marvel Spotlight makes us feel a bit like Disney is reinventing the wheel, here. Winderbaum claims the studio wants to use the Spotlight series to bring “more grounded, character-driven stories to the screen,” which is why Echo favors “street-level stakes over larger MCU continuity.”
We’re fine with this: a return to the quieter stories like the first Iron Man would be preferable to almost every show and film involving saving the world.
But Marvel already had these kinds of grounded stories on Netflix with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher, and Luke Cage, and it seems Disney is belatedly realizing Disney+ subscribers also crave grittier characters and stories.
If Echo is any indication, Marvel Spotlight may deliver some of the grittiest MCU content of all: the show is notably the first Marvel show to get a TV-MA rating.
That means this and future Spotlight shows could get even darker than the aforementioned Netflix shows, all of which were basically the opposite of kid-friendly.
A Simpler Marvel Universe
Taken at face value, Marvel Spotlight may finally deliver the grounded characters and adult storylines fans have been begging for.
Best of all, fans can stop obsessively watching every bit of Marvel content that comes out, and we can only hope Disney learns a valuable lesson about actually delivering quality stories instead of season-long commercials for future content.