The MCU’s Small Screen Explosion: Will Disney+ be a Game Changer?

by Blaise Tassone

marvelcasts-300x169 The MCU’s Small Screen Explosion: Will Disney+ be a Game Changer?

Comic book websites and YouTube channels have been exploding with opinions about Marvel’s upcoming projects after the San Diego announcements made by Kevin Feige.

Something that was immediately noticed is how the upcoming phase (number 4 of the MCU) seems to be taking a ‘smaller is better’ approach (see here). From ‘WandaVision’, to ‘Loki’, to ‘What if…?’, the Marvel SDCC presentation was practically dominated by news about the Disney+ Marvel shows.

What does this mean for comic speculation?

First, let’s go over the properties and look at related comics that might be affected by these shows. In terms of the shows announced, we have five brand new programs: ‘WandaVision’, ‘The Falcon and Winter Soldier’, ‘Loki’, ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘What if…?’. I’m assuming that Blade will be a film (until I hear otherwise, and see my post: The Midnight Sons and other Marvel Horror Properties to Watch).

It’s no exaggeration to say that, today, the hierarchy of movers and shakers for pushing up comic book values have been, in order, (1) Films (2) Television and Streaming Shows (3) Animated Features and [ironically] Actual Comics.

With Phase 4, Marvel and Disney seem to be shrinking the distance between 1 and 3. Keep in mind that this is a distance that has been growing in recent years.

Remember when the first appearance of a character on a CW or Hulu show dramatically pushed up prices on their key comics?

Me neither.

If there was one thing Fiege seemed determined to convey, it was how important the small screen projects will be for the MCU. For example, commenting on the release of ‘WandaVision’, Fiege said: “WandaVision will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and I’m excited to talk to people more about it, eventually.
Comments like this, in tandem with the fact that Elizabeth Olsen will play Wanda on the show, is a serious new development for the MCU. One we have to take a look at here.

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The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 (December 1981) – First Appearance of Monica Rameau as Captain Marvel

Until now, the trend on almost all the Marvel TV properties (from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’, to ‘Inhumans’ to ‘Cloak and Dagger’), has been to increasingly separate them from the movie events. The ‘snap’, to take an example, wasn’t even mentioned on the most recent season of Shield. Also, while actors have moved between film and TV before (Agent Phil Coulson most effectively), the TV division was definitely given less weight by fans and prices on comics that had TV based series, subsequently, lost value more quickly than their big-screen counter-parts.

Will these trends change with Disney+?

We know that Marvel will pump a great deal of money and quality control as well as talent resources into the Disney+ shows. One of the most interesting aspects of the ‘WandaVision’, furthermore, was how it will lead to Wanda’s later appearing in Doctor Strange 2. Turning our attention to comics, and taking the hyped, ‘WandaVision’ into consideration, we know the series will introduce a grown-up Romica Rambeau played by Teyonah Parris.

Monica Rambeau’s first appearance as a super-hero is Spider-Man Annual #16. Currently it has a FMV of around $325.00 in certified 9.8 condition. The last 9.8 sold for an underwhelming $232.50 on eBay (it was a CBCS slab, but that’s still low).

Although the long term trend on this comic is mostly positive, in recent months (over the last 12 weeks) sales in all grades except 9.4 were trending sharply down. The San Diego announcement doesn’t seem to have changed that.

Compare the last sale of Spider-Man Annual #16, to that of Tomb of Dracula #10, of sold on eBay today in 9.4 for $4000.00! That’s very far above the current FMV of that comic for that grade. ToD #10 is basically breaking records and selling above FMV in every grade, all because of SDCC (and perhaps the hope that Blade will get a movie).

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What if…? #1 (January 1977) – First issue of titled series; Brief origin Spider-Man, Fantastic Four

But not so fast. ‘WandaVision’ wasn’t the only announcement.

What about the ‘What if’ news?

Has the first issue fared any better because of the Disney+ news?

Long term returns on this comic were also mostly positive. Over the last three months, the numbers were mixed and trending negative except in 9.8. The current FMV on the first issue of What if, is around $260.00. The last five eBay sales of 9.8 copies after San Diego July 21 announcement sold for: $395.00 (Buy it now), $335.00 (Buy it now), $375.00 (Buy it now) [July 21, 2019]; $425.00 (Buy it now); $357.00 (Auction) [July 22, 2019].

Sure, there might be other reasons for the spike described above. I’ve considered the old What if…? comics undervalued for years (see my post, Hypothetical Speculation: Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ Comics). However, these results are interesting nonetheless.

Certainly they are not what we would expect.

According to past trends, an Animated Series should have had the least influence, and the TV show announcements more. Of course more data will be needed to see what the effect the Marvel shakeup is really having.

It will be interesting to see what trends develop in the near future and into 2020, after Phase 4 begins.

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