You’re sick of hearing of the WGA writer’s strike and the SAG actor’s strike, surely. But the reality is they keep messing with everything. And while they are not the exact culprit here—the writing has been on the wall for Marvel’s Disney+ strategy for a while—it’s certainly not helping things when talent aren’t able to promote the films and TV series that they star in, thus giving studios, streamers, and cable channels pause to promote their content while the strike is ongoing.
So, that’s the long way of saying Marvel’s Disney+ TV strategy is shifting, delaying, and changing. But let’s not forget, Disney’s Bob Iger has, for quite some time now, been saying that the House of Mouse was going to start pairing back on an overload of Marvel and “Star Wars” content (it’s expensive to produce; it doesn’t produce the number of subscribers they need to show growth for Wall Street and all streamers are facing a subscriber growth ceiling). In other words, we shouldn’t be surprised, and maybe these changes would have happened, strikes or not. Regardless, let’s take a look at the details that come first from The Hollywood Reporter.
In the short term for 2023, Marvel will only have one live-action series left this year. “Loki” season two will remain on its October date, but “Echo,” a spin-off from the more grounded hero that was first introduced in the series “Hawkeye,” originally scheduled for November 2023, will move to January 2024. Starring Alaqua Cox as a former criminal organization thug turned hero; she plays a deaf indigenous character who can mimic and duplicate the physical actions of others. The characters Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Kingpin (Vincent D’onofrio) are expected to appear in the series. As previously announced, all the episodes will drop at the same time instead of the week-to-week release of most Disney+ releases.
There is a silver lining in the animation schedule. The Emmy-nominated animated anthology series “What If…?” has been dated for Christmas Day 2023. Featuring Jeffrey Wright as the voice of the Watcher, “What If…?” looks at alternate paths and other takes on Marvel characters, seeing them expanding and growing in unforeseen, unexpected ways (in one multiverse strain, Peggy Carter is Captain Cater instead of Steve Rodgers becoming Captain America).
And by the sounds of things, Marvel is only going to be releasing two live-action series a year. The second of 2024 will be ‘Agatha,’ the “WandaVision” spinoff starring Kathryn Hahn. Originally scheduled for a winter 2023 release, the series has now been shifted to early fall 2024. Additionally, the series, once entitled “Agatha: Coven of Chaos,” will now shift its title to “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries” (actually, its third title so far). The series centers on the witch Agatha Harkness, played by Hahn, who was first introduced as the secret antagonist of Wanda Maximoff in “WandaVision.” The series is expected to tell further Witch tales and stories about Harkness’ coven within the Marvel Universe.
Before that, however, the first Marvel animated series of 2024 will be “X-Men ’97.” A tribute and continuation of the animation style and tone of the “X-Men” animated series from the 1990s, the series was originally scheduled for a fall 2023 release. A season two is in the works, and it’s said to be retro and a love letter to the original.
Three other Marvel shows have been delayed, with one taken off the calendar. “Ironheart,” a series centered on the genius-inventor Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) first introduced in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” was due this fall but has been taken off the calendar. The series was able to finish its production, but its completion has been affected by the strikes, so now it’s a TBD, and by the sounds of this schedule, it could potentially have to wait until 2025 unless it’s slotted in the summer of 2024.
Two other Marvel shows, “Daredevil: Born Again” centering on the blind attorney/street-fighting superhero Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox) first introduced in “She-Hulk” (though previously seen in a Netflix series that may or may not have continuity with this one) and “Wonder Man” starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, had to pause production during the strikes. They’ll have to resume and pick up after the strikes eventually end, but they’re likely not going to turn up until 2025.
Much of this is fortunate and unfortunate for Marvel. For one, again, Bob Iger had already suggested more is less for Marvel—so maybe some of these shows would have been spread out over two or three years. On the other hand, no one likes a forced delay, so it’s likely a sense of great frustration for the filmmakers still in the middle of putting these shows together.
These shifts don’t bode well for series that haven’t been fully developed yet. Marvel at one point, had said they wanted to create an Untitled series based on Wakanda, a series based on the galactic space character Nova, and “VisionQuest,” a sequel to the story told in “WandaVision.” But if Marvel is scaling back, who knows what the fates of these ideas will actually be and or if they’re folded into movies instead. More hope exists for animated shows that have been in development for years that have produced some concept images like, “Spider-Man: Freshman Year,” “Marvel Zombies” and “Spider-Man: Sophomore Year.”
Here’s the Marvel Disney+ line-up for the rest of the year:
- “Loki” (Season Two) – October 6
- “What… If” (Season Two) – December 25, 2023
- “Echo” – January 2024
- “X-Men: ‘97” – early 2024
- “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries” – early fall 2024
- “Ironheart” – TBD
- “Daredevil: Born Again” – TBD
- “Wonder Man” – TBD