As you probably know, Disney+ launched in November. The new streaming service provides users with access to just about every TV show, movie and cartoon that the media giant has produced since its inception in the 1920s. And the public reception has been immense; the new service welcomed 10 million subscribers on its launch day.
Besides the business tycoons behind the service, Disney+ benefits the fans. Subscribers are given access to most of the properties that Disney owns, which includes all of the “Star Wars” movies, every Pixar film and animated short and tons of content from the ever-interesting National Geographic.
Nevertheless, one aspect that had fans buzzing for weeks leading up to the launch of the streaming service was the backlog of Marvel content that Disney has access to. The studio was purchased by Disney in 2009, and they have found an immense level of success together. After buying Fox, the film rights to both the “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” franchise rest in Disney’s palm.
Unfortunately, it does not seem like Marvel fanatics will see the X-Men movies on the service for a while, and the same goes with the Spider-Man movies, even if the two properties are included within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, that does not mean fans of the mutants and friendly neighborhood wall-crawler are left without anything to watch on Disney+.
4. “Avengers: United They Stand”
The Avengers have appeared in a few cartoons over the years, but “Avengers: United They Stand” is by far the goofiest. In a world where we take our superheroes seriously, it’s nice to remember that these stories are science fiction and they should not be taken too seriously. Unfortunately, “United They Stand” only ran for 13 episodes and was largely forgotten, but it is worth watching.
The series follows an offshoot of the Avengers led by Ant-Man, and is loosely based on the “West Coast Avengers,” a comic that first appeared in the 1980s. The team is made up of not-too-popular characters like Wonder Man and Tigra, but also incorporates some familiar faces like Hawkeye — who is unrecognizable from any iteration you might know — and Falcon.
3. “Expanding the Universe” and “Assembling a Universe”
Although this pair of documentaries might not catch your eye among the Star Wars saga and Pixar collection, both of these nonfiction short films will get any Marvel fan excited. Together, the films clock in at under an hour, but showcase the inner workings of the MCU.
“Expanding the Universe” is only 12 minutes long, but features an edit of Kevin Feige’s presentation at D23 in 2019, in which the producer detailed the upcoming MCU releases, specifically the Disney+ originals. The list of shows coming to the service in the coming years is beyond exciting, especially considering that familiar characters like Winter Soldier and Vision are getting their own shows that will expand on their backgrounds. Plus, lesser known characters like Moon Knight and She-Hulk will get their own shows as well.
Conversely, “Assembling a Universe” is a 42-minute documentary from 2014 that details the formation of the MCU up until that year. The documentary begins with footage of Kevin Feige at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2006 discussing the potential of an Iron Man movie before cutting to footage from the following year’s Comic-Con and Jon Favreau talking about the low level of studio involvement in the making of “Iron Man.” The beginning of this documentary will undoubtedly remind fans to re-live the nostalgic hype that lead up to “The Avengers” in 2012.
2. “Spider-Man” (1994)
Spider-Man has been the focus of several adaptations; the first debuted in 1967 and the latest film is scheduled for a release in 2021. However, one adaptation stands above the others. The 1994 series, simply titled “Spider-Man,” ran for 5 season and acquired a significant fanbase along the way.
The series captures the perfect contrast between Peter Parker and Spider-Man, an aspect of the 1994 adaptation that separates itself from both film and additional TV series alike. Peter is timid, but confident when walking around in everyday life; he keeps his head low and lives his life. But when the mask is on, Peter becomes the quick-witted hero that fans know and love.
Furthermore, the series has been praised for its inclusion of other heroes from the Marvel Universe. For example, Spider-Man teams up with the X-Men, fights off the Punisher, fights crime with Daredevil and seeks the help of Doctor Strange when Mary Jane disappears. Notably, the series concludes with a fantastic adaption of the “Secret Wars” storyline from the mid-’80s, which conceivably provided a blueprint for the modern-day MCU.
1. “X-Men: The Animated Series”
Debuting in 1992, “X-Men: The Animated Series” has been remembered fondly by fans for decades. The cartoon stays true to the spirit of the original comic book series created in the ’60s by Stan Lee, but it also modernizes the characters and plotlines. Consequently, the series takes inspiration mainly from Chris Claremont’s run on the comic in the ’80s.
Since their inception, the X-Men have represented oppressed and marginalized people, and the series is not afraid to confront serious topics; the main antagonist Magneto is a survivor of the Holocaust, an event that he is determined to prevent from happening again. Despite its adolescent appeal, “X-Men: The Animated Series” does not shy away from serious conversation.
Visually, the series’s animation encompasses a particular aesthetic that feels similar to the movement in comic panels. The action scenes are exaggerated and dramatic, which is exactly what you want from a cartoon. Admirably, each character uses their own unique lingo, which allows them to each stand apart from each other. Even if you don’t hold the show dear to your heart, you have to admit that the unforgettably cheesy title sequence is pure gold.