An unexpected Christmas gift hit the internet this week as Iron Man, the film that started it all, is now available to stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime. The MCU movies have been largely non-existent on streaming platforms as of late, so those who don’t own the first time Robert Downey Jr. became Tony Stark have a chance to watch the now classic movie if they are subscribed to either service.
This is the second MCU film this week to make it to a streaming service. On Christmas Day Captain America: Civil War debuted on Netflix. This release is the first of many Marvel films that will come out on Netflix around six months after their theatrical release. Marvel is part of the Disney deal with Netflix that brings all Mouse House productions to the streaming service. Already that means animated films like Zootopia, live action remakes like Jungle Book, and Marvel films like Civil War are ready to go. Doctor Strange is due to stream next year, likely in the summer time.
Iron Man hitting Hulu while new MCU movies go to Netflix may strike some fans as a little odd, but the strategy seems consistent with Disney’s overall plan. (For those readers thinking Paramount owns the distribution rights to Iron Man, they did, but Disney bought them a while back.) Recently Disney signed a deal with Hulu for a lot of animated back catalog films. (I’ve yet to see Marvel movies explicitly included in that arrangement, though the timing would be interestingly coincidental.) The philosophy seems to be keeping their eggs in two baskets, one for new releases and one for the back catalog.
Fans will likely hate this approach. Spreading content between multiple platforms means more subscriptions and higher costs for consumers. For the companies involved, however, it makes sense. Holding a single contract for all current and past Disney films would be terribly expensive for any service. Disney also can dip from multiple subscription services. Disney’s part ownership of Hulu, via ABC, also makes them unlikely to freeze the company out completely in the war between Netflix and Hulu. This multiple platform strategy is the most obvious in TV, where Disney and Marvel are prepping shows for ABC, Freeform, Netflix, and Hulu simultaneously.
For now, only four MCU movies are available to stream. In addition to the two mentioned above, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are available via Starz. Watch those while you can, however, because that contract is expiring and several Marvel films have already disappeared from that channel. With the movement occurring in the streaming market, it’s a good idea to check out the “coming to and leaving Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime” articles that pop up now every month to see if your favorite heroes are swinging onto the internet anytime soon.