Disney’s upcoming streaming service is ramping up its content creation, with Empire writer/executive producer Malcolm Spellman hired to pen a potential limited series that would team two of Marvel’s costumed characters: Winter Soldier and The Falcon.
It is one of several potential series on the service, which is aiming for a late 2019 launch. Marvel Studios’ involvement was first tipped in September, that to magical characters from the Avengers franchise — Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch — would be in spotlights of their own in TV miniseries to be offered exclusively through the Disney service (now expected to launch in late 2019).
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is overseeing the initiative (for continuity of story and handling of the studio’s big-screen talent) which is keyed toward limited-run TV shows (typically six- to eight-episode story arcs) to dig into the stories of fan-favorite Marvel characters that don’t have already their own film franchises.
That applies to the Falcon and Winter Soldier, who are played by Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) and Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya), respectively, in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The pair most recently appeared together in the mega-hit Avengers: Infinity War. Details about their potential limited series are under wraps. Variety first reported the news of the project today.
The Winter Soldier was a partner to Captain America in his previously established identity as Bucky Barnes, childhood pal of Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America) and his WWII battlefield compatriot. In the comics, Bucky was introduced in 1941 as a cheery teen sidekick (not unlike Robin the Boy Wonder) and was killed off in the 1960s when he seemed too old-fashioned for the Marvel Comics of that era. He was given the Winter Solider backstory in a classic 2005 story arc that inspired the Marvel film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon, debuted in the comics in 1969 and was introduced as Captain America’s partner and shared the title of his comic book. The Harlem native made history with his debut — he was the first African-American superhero. (The Black Panther had arrived three years earlier in the Fantastic Four series but he was born on Wakanda’s foreign soil). In the Marvel films, the two characters are both military veterans and each is a close friend to Captain America (Chris Evans) but friction and mistrust has marked many of their interactions.
The characters do have one connection. The Falcon in his civilian hours works closely with American combat veterans who are struggling to readapt to civilian life after injuries and battlefield trauma. The Winter Solider, meanwhile, is haunted by his war injuries — his powerful mechanized arm replaces the one he lost in WWII in Europe. (He was retrieved from the battlefield by enemy operatives who brainwashed him and rewired his mind to serve as the Russian assassin codenamed Winter Soldier.)
The Disney streaming service will utilize fare from Pixar, Walt Disney Animation and Lucasfilm as well. The latter will provide the IP fodder for The Mandalorian, a live-action Star Wars property revolving around the warrior race from which bounty hunters Jango Fett and son Boba Fett sprung. Jon Favreau is writing the first episode and serving as EP. Star Wars Rebels EP Dave Filoni will helm the first episode while other episodic helmers include Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi. It’s unclear if the Marvel series would have similar multiple directors.
Also in the works on the OTT service is a High School Musical series as well as a remake of The Lady and the Tramp that mixes live-action and CG effects and includes cast members Justin Theroux and Ashley Jensen.