2023 has been a highly tumultuous year for the film and television industry, leaving many studios to scramble in order to reassess their current lineup of projects. For Marvel, this means shifting many of their previously announced Disney+ projects to new release dates, per a recent report from The Hollywood Reporter.
According to new information from Disney, Marvel will be pushing future installments of What If, Echo, and the upcoming WandaVision spinoff series Agatha: Darkhold (formerly known as Agatha: Coven of Chaos, and before that, Agatha: House of Harkness) well into 2024, with the second season of Loki expected to be the only series to arrive on the streamer as previously scheduled.
Only Loki Season 2 has not been delayed, every other Marvel series for Disney+ has been pushed back months, going well into 2024.
While there are multiple causes for this corporate restructuring, the most obvious and significant factor seems to be the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which have effectively shut down all major Hollywood productions for the foreseeable future. Though Marvel has a number of projects completed in advance, ready to doll out over the following year, this work stoppage will prevent the studio from continuing to shoot new content.
As a result, Marvel likely has enough of their planned projects ready to air, though doing so would leave the franchise with a massive void come this time next year. Instead, the studio plans to space out each completed project with greater distance in order to elongate its back catalog of completed episodes. With any luck, this could also mean extra time and resources for the frequently overworked visual effects team.
It should come as no surprise that Marvel executives have begun to panic about the ongoing Hollywood strikes, considering the record-breaking length of the current work stoppage. The last Writers Guild of America strike, which ran from late 2007 until early 2008, lasted 100 days, bringing the industry to a crippling halt.
By comparison, the current strike, which encompasses both writers and actors as well as a number of other wage workers picketing in solidarity, has gone on for 123 days at the time of this writing, with no signs of slowing or stopping any time soon.
Ironheart, an in-development Marvel series, completed principal photography before the strike, but post-production work means it remains incomplete.
In addition to the ongoing strikes, Marvel has faced restructuring due to a growing sense of superhero fatigue, which threatens to cut their viewership if the studio continues at its current pace.
While many hardcore comic book fans are willing to revel in a vast catalog of extended MCU content, many average viewers have begun to fall away from consistently viewing the latest MCU blockbusters. This has led to a number of poorly received films in the franchise, with outings such as Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania failing to make the impact the studio had hoped to see.
Wonder Man and Daredevil: Born Again, weren’t able to finish filming before the strikes, so Marvel has paused and has no expected release date for either series.
Disney previously announced similar rollbacks within the Star Wars franchise, with executives at the media conglomerate opting to take a quality-over-quantity approach in the coming years.
Hopefully, this means the Marvel and Star Wars outings we do get will demonstrate the hard work of their massive teams rather than receiving middling results at the box office. As the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes rage on, there’s no telling what the ripple effects could be years down the line.