The future of superhero and sci-fi streaming is entering unknown territory, with Disney officially announcing a not-at-all-surprising split with Netflix, but one thing we do know is that the revolution won’t be cheap.
You might as well go ahead and create a geek-culture streaming folder on your smartphone or tablet, because if you’re a fan of comic-book-inspired civil wars, lightsabers and boldly going where no man or woman has gone before, you’re probably going to be using multiple apps that won’t be free.
Starting in 2019, one of those apps will be Disney’s new streaming service, which is where the studio will put all of its Marvel Studios and “Star Wars” films after removing them from Netflix.
If you’re a big Marvel fan, a future Disney app loaded with the entire Marvel Studios movie library at your fingertips seams like a no-brainer. But what about those Netflix Marvel shows that just so happen to be the current standard in live-action superhero streaming entertainment? “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “The Defenders” and this fall’s “The Punisher” will remain at Netflix.
Then you’re looking at two pay-to-stream apps.
But what if you’re not strictly a “make mine Marvel” type of fan? Do you like Batman? Of course you do. Everyone loves Batman. Then you’re probably interested in two upcoming shows that feature Batman sidekick Robin. The anticipated animated return of the third season of “Young Justice” as well as the live-action “Titans” series, which just cast Brenton Thwaites (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”) as Dick Grayson (no word yet on whether he’ll be playing Robin or Nightwing), will both debut on DC Comics’ own streaming service, which arrives in 2018.
That’s three apps to pay for.
You can’t talk about Batman entertainment without mentioning one of the greatest animated superhero adaptations of all-time, “Batman: The Animated Series.” You can stream all four seasons of BTAS on Amazon Prime Video, a streaming service that also offers some alternative superhero viewing with its show “The Tick.”
That gives us four apps.
And then there’s the much hyped, many times delayed, but airing soon “Star Trek: Discovery” from CBS that will stream on the CBS All Access app. “Star Trek’s” highly anticipated return to television is a big deal to Trekkies, but it won’t be a free deal.
That’s five apps available now or in the future that would be needed to satisfy your superhero/sci-fi streaming needs.
But there is some slight free relief.
The CW’s DC Comics live-action universe shows — “Green Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and the upcoming “Black Lightning” — as well as the Archie Comics-inspired “Riverdale” stream free on the CW app. The catch is, you have to wait until a day after new shows air (which almost guarantees you have to stay offline to avoid spoilers), and there are lots of commercials you can’t fast-forward your way through.
We haven’t even mentioned the things that inspire all these streaming adaptations, the comic books themselves, which now range in price from 3 to 5 bucks a pop.
The future of fanboy streaming just got a lot more crowded.
But just like the Joker told a bunch of Gotham City goons in “The Dark Knight,” if you’re good at something, never do it for free.