My biggest complaint about Disney Plus for the longest time was that it didn’t seem to understand how people (read: me) want to watch movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a perfect example.
When Disney Plus launched, the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies weren’t exactly organized. There were rows for featured titles, movies, and TV shows, but everything was kind of strewn together. Almost every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie you wanted was here — you just had to spend a minute finding it. Now, however, it looks like Disney has changed around the Marvel section a tad to make it, well, make sense.
In the screenshot below (taken from a Disney Plus US account), the Marvel films are separated into their specific phases, and then there’s an additional row for people who want to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order as the events occur within the universe timeline. (There are some arguable inaccuracies in the Timeline Order row, but that’s for another blog post.)
There’s another row for Marvel Legacy Movies (that’s your X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises that aren’t part of Disney’s MCU) as well as rows for legacy animated shows like Spider-Man, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk. Organization! A layout that makes sense. It’s unclear how new this design change is, but folks on the Disney Plus subreddit are celebrating it now. The Verge reached out to Disney to see how new the design change is, but didn’t hear back by the time the story was published.
Streaming services, as a blend of technology and entertainment, need both to create good experiences for subscribers. That means not only bringing as much content to a platform as possible and ensuring said platform runs, but also understanding how people are likely to watch what’s there. Disney Plus works well, and there are a ton of movies and TV shows, but it always seemed like Disney never quite understood how people might browse its dedicated hubs. For example, there still aren’t individual rows for each Star Wars trilogy — although that may be an issue with Disney Plus rows seemingly needing at least four titles per row.
From a totally anecdotal place, I’m someone who rewatches Marvel movies constantly. Since this whole quarantine situation started, I’ve rewatched the entire MCU thrice. Not once, not twice, but thrice. (Feel free to mock me, I get it.) Having it all laid out perfectly by phases or timeline order makes those marathons easier. It also, however, makes it easier to revisit certain phases. Want to check out the MCU by the time it gets really cosmic? That’s Phase 3! You can skip over all the other movies and just dive into Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, and Captain Marvel.
Look, I spend way too much time, quite frankly, thinking about how streaming platforms can be designed better. Netflix introduced a shuffle button (although, it still has a few kinks — let me shuffle episodes of a specific show, not just random movies and TV shows you have on your service, Netflix!) and is testing a feature that will let people marathon shows without interruption. I’m still waiting on Netflix to give me a way to make GIFs while streaming on my laptop. Hulu rolled out a simpler interface on some devices that makes it much more user-friendly. Amazon Prime Video, one of the worst streaming service user interfaces I’ve ever used, will hopefully also change... and soon.
The key to success in the streaming world is keeping attention. Part of that puzzle is content, and part of it is a service that doesn’t go down every five minutes — but part of it is understanding why people are using your platform and how. And after close to a year of existing, it seems like Disney finally understands how we want to watch Marvel movies.