It’s no secret that the MCU is in a state of flux. Even as movies such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania continue to do well at the box office, a type of fatigue has set in, with people feeling a bit overwhelmed by the constant stream of new media and characters. Of course, everyone has their own opinions on the problems, from the introduction of too many lesser-known characters, to the loss of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, to the rushed visual effects in both the TV shows and movies.
Recently, Disney CEO Bob Iger offered his own take, even as he took care to avoid admitting that the MCU had a problem. “Do you need a third and a fourth [sequel], for instance, or is it time to turn to other characters?” Iger mused. “What we have to look at Marvel is not necessarily the volume of Marvel stories we’re telling but how many times we go back to the well on certain characters.”
Iger’s comments arrive amongst rumors that Marvel will be delaying, if not outright canceling, some of its television shows, and taking a “less is more” approach. A recent update to the Disney+ TV show schedule now lends credence to those rumors. Listings for all of the upcoming Marvel series on Disney+ now simply read “Coming Soon,” even What If… season 2, which once was listed as “Early 2023.” Although no official date has been announced for Secret Invasion, all reports suggested that it would be coming this Spring. However, the website now also lists that show as “Coming Soon.”
However, it’s important to note that although the website update may be unclear about the future of these shows, they do remain on the schedule. And that tracks with Iger’s comments about focusing on new characters instead of sequels. Spin-off shows like Echo and Agatha: Coven of Chaos match that description, as does the animated series Spider-Man: Freshman Year, which links the MCU Spidey to a more traditional comic book-style origin.
The big outliers here are the sequel/reboot series X-Men ’97, and Daredevil: Born Again. Both shows continue fan-favorite series outside of the MCU, with Born Again bringing back Netflix stars Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio as Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, respectively (though apparently without co-stars Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll). More audacious is X-Men ’97, which purports to be the 6th season of the Fox Kids Cartoon, which ran from 1992 – 1997. The new series uses the same character designs and builds off previous arcs, which raises questions about its relationship to the MCU.
Will the extra time that Marvel appears to be setting out for their upcoming shows ultimately make for higher-quality programming, thus securing the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or are these delays just desperate attempts to bail out water from a sinking ship? The answers are coming soon.