Marvel is looking to uncomplicate the increasingly complicated MCU. Well, not exactly; they’re mostly trying to get people to watch their content again. But they have a new idea about how to do it. While screening the first two episodes of Echo at the Choctaw Nation’s annual powwow, Marvel unveiled a new banner they’re calling Marvel Spotlight. This label, which was the name of a Marvel Comics anthology series, will denote projects that you can watch as standalone stories without having seen about three months’ worth of prior material. It appears this will be relegated to the Disney+ TV series, with the banner described as “focusing on street-level stakes over larger MCU continuity.” Echo will be the first Marvel Spotlight release.
I don’t have a problem with this; it’s smart to have at least some of these shows be removed from the central continuity. But I think Marvel is failing to see the larger issue, which is the movies. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness demanded that people see WandaVision beforehand; the show wasn’t the problem in that case, but the movie that relied on it. The same will be true of The Marvels, which needs viewers to be familiar with WandaVision, Ms. Marvel, and Secret Invasion. People can accept seeing two or three movies a year to stay on top of the continuity (especially when the movies are at least mostly good, which they once were), but having to subscribe to a third-rate streaming service to keep up with a bunch of lousy shows is a bridge too far. You can say something like Echo is its own thing, but that doesn’t help the movies. It also may not be true because Echo was introduced in Hawkeye, as was her connection to the Kingpin, which looks like it will be central to this series; it’s also supposed to lead into Daredevil: Born Again and maybe feature Charlie Cox as Daredevil. So is the Marvel Spotlight label even accurate, or is this a cheap attempt to get people to watch a show they’re not confident will perform?