Disney’s New Marvel Movie Release Rules Won’t Change The MCU As Much As You Think

Shang-Chi and Thena in the MCU's Phase 4

Disney CEO Bob Iger has revealed that Marvel Studios’ upcoming release plans will be changing, but this won’t change the Marvel Cinematic Universe as much as it seems. In recent years, Marvel Studios has come under scrutiny for a noticeable drop in quality in projects in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, with a huge increase in content being produced, both feature films and TV shows for Disney+, leading to a rise in so-called “superhero fatigue.” These criticisms have prompted Disney and Marvel Studios to make a series of changes behind the scenes, hopefully setting up the MCU for a bright future.

Earlier in the year, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that Marvel Studios would be slowing down production on its upcoming and as-yet-unnanounced projects, reducing output and focusing more on quality. In Disney’s latest earnings call in May 2024, Bob Iger revealed more, suggesting that the MCU would cut down to two TV shows a year instead of four, and two, maximum three, feature films, instead of four (via Disney). However, these comments have caused some confusion, as only one year in the MCU’s 16-year history has included four feature films, suggesting these changes won’t be as transformative as some expect.

Only 1 Year In The MCU’s 16-Year History Has Included 4 Movies

Natasha Romanoff in the rubble of the Red Room in Black Widow

Bob Iger’s comments seem to imply that releasing four feature films per year has become the norm for Marvel Studios, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, 2021 is the only year since the MCU began with 2008’s Iron Man that has released four movies, and this only happened because of delays during the COVID-19 pandemic. Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home released in 2021, and while 2025 is also expected to include four movies, this is also the result of major delays following 2023’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Some of what is coming up is a vestige of basically a desire in the past to increase volume. We’re slowly going to decrease volume, and go to probably about two TV series a year, instead of what has become four, and reduce our film output from, maybe four a year to two, the maximum three. And we’re working hard on what that path is. We’ve got a couple of good films in ’25, and then we’re heading to more Avengers, which we’re extremely excited about. Overall, I feel great about the slate.

What Bob Iger’s Comments Mean For The MCU’s Future

Tom Holland's Spider-Man in his brand-new suit in Spider-Man No Way Home

Bob Iger’s comments at Disney’s latest earnings call could imply that 2025’s MCU slate will be reshuffled, allowing only three feature films to release. This means that Marvel Studios’ Blade may be delayed yet again, pushing the movie, which has had a tumultuous production period, to 2026. If this occurs, and only three movies are planned for 2026, Blade will join Avengers 5, with the third slot likely being filled by the MCU’s Spider-Man 4This means 2026’s slate may already be set, negating the inclusion of many highly-anticipated sequels, such as Shang-Chi 2, Doctor Strange 3 and Thor 5.

For Marvel Studios’ TV shows, developed for Disney+, Iger’s comments could spell worse news. Iger noted that two MCU series would be released annually, and with many already in development, this could confuse the MCU’s upcoming timelineAgatha is set to release in 2024, while Daredevil: Born Again, Ironheart, Wonder Man, Nova and Vision Quest are all in production. These upcoming live-action MCU TV shows could form the MCU’s entire slate through 2025, 2026 and part of 2027, which may suggest that one or more of these Marvel Cinematic Universe series could be canceled, saving room for more crucial projects.

Marvel Studios also has a number of upcoming animated MCU series, including Eyes of Wakanda , Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man seasons 1 and 2, What If…? season 3 and Marvel Zombies , but it’s unclear if these are included in Bob Iger’s new mandate.

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