Marvel Has Basically Admitted They Are In Trouble

Marvel's target output has reportedly been reduced from four shows and four movies a year to two shows and three movies a year.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

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There are many reasons that Marvel movies such as Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have disappointed at the box office, but one of the biggest ones is superhero fatigue. Simply put, keeping up with the constant output of Marvel content has become as difficult as keeping up with the comics they are based on, and getting ready for events like Secret Invasion feels more than a bit like doing some annoying homework. And it seems that Marvel execs agree: The Hot Mic reports that “Marvel’s target output has been reduced” and will go from “four shows and four movies a year” to “two shows and three movies a year:

Those that have been keeping close track of Marvel drama know that pumping the brakes on nonstop MCU content has been something execs have been discussing for some time now. What is significant about this report is that it actually gives us numbers, answering the inevitable fan question of just how much of a content reduction we are talking about. Of course, “content” is a word that Marvel guru Kevin Feige hates to use, but content saturation is exactly the problem that Marvel has created for itself.

And Feige knows this, too, having previously commented on his goal for every movie to effectively hit the cultural zeitgeist. While he didn’t name any specific films, he is likely thinking about how everything from the first Iron Man film to Avengers: Endgame felt like major events that fans spent months discussing long after the films were over. With modern Marvel, it seems like we only have a few weeks to talk about something like Quantumania before we are expected to get hyped about Secret Invasion.

How will this change affect Marvel’s current lineup as we know it? The short answer is that the release dates for many films are going to get shuffled, but we don’t yet know what will end up where. For example, there are already four movies scheduled for 2024 (including the Deadpool movie that brings him and Wolverine into the MCU) and four movies scheduled for 2025, so certain features will need to be moved around so that we only have three films per year.

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One potentially easy fix to get Marvel down to three movies per year is for them to quietly axe the films that we don’t know much about yet. For example, the current MCU slate has a whopping 14 movies from now until 2026, but six of those are untitled movies that we know nothing about.

While we’d love to see Marvel expand its cinematic universe by introducing new heroes and villains, the simplest solution would be for the studio to kill some or all of these untitled projects and focus on established characters like the Avengers (although depending on how his legal drama goes, it may not be Jonathan Majors they square off against in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty).

Perhaps the greatest irony in all of this for longtime Marvel fans is that we are seeing MCU history repeat itself in real-time: more than two decades ago, Marvel realized they had so many comics and characters that it was driving away potential readers, so they launched the Ultimate line of comics.

These comics provided modernized origin stories and a more streamlined universe, and it was this universe that the MCU was built on (including the fact that these comics drew Nick Fury to look like Samuel L. Jackson seven years before the Iron Man movie premiered). If the MCU itself is now too confusing for audiences to keep up with, then Marvel faces the same choice now they faced over two decades ago: adapt or die.