Marvel Studios Updates: MCU Moving Away From Kang, New Writers Polish THUNDERBOLTS and FANTASTIC FOUR Scripts, and More

New details on the future of the MCU have been provided, including Kang's role and new writers on Fantastic Four and Thunderbolts
Marvel Studios

A new, detailed story by The Hollywood Reporter breaks down where Marvel Studios is currently at after its most tumultuous year in history. In 2023, only Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 managed to perform according to expectations, with their other two theatrical releases, along with the Disney+ series Secret Invasion, disappointing.

According to THR, Marvel Studios is undergoing a retooling phase, as they try to accommodate to a new landscape: by now, it seems pretty clear that there is superhero fatigue. All DC movies from last year were ungracefully murdered at the box office, and Sony’s Madame Web is on track to meet a similar end. (The pic grossed $53M worldwide over its first week of release, though with its modest $100M-range budget they might not lose double digits on this one.)

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This new adjusting period is not even called a soft reboot, though certain changes are being implemented to their pipeline. Let’s break them down.

Kang the Conqueror and Future Avengers Movies

Michael Waldron is currently writing the next two Avengers movies, which were once supposed to feature Jonathan Majors’ Kang in a Thanos-like role, culminating a years-in-the-making storyline that kicked off with Loki season 1 and was supposed to blossom with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Remember: when the Phase 5 slate was announced back in July 2022, Avengers 5 and 6 were supposed to come out within six months of each other, in 2025!

Then, in February 2023, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania underperformed at the box office, grossing under $500M and getting panned by critics. And this was before the late-March arrest of Jonathan Majors, who was set to anchor the MCU going forward. Majors was sentenced late that year, and Marvel Studios immediately dropped him, but no decision concerning the character was announced.

According to THR, though, Marvel Studios wanted to move on from Kang entirely after the disappointment of Quantumania, and Majors’ arrest gave them the perfect excuse. They also had the ideal avenue, as Loki season 2 could be retroactively seen as a definitive end to Kang’s storyline. The decision has been made to strip down his role in the next two Avengers movies to a minimum or remove him entirely.

Though they don’t mention it, this also ties in perfectly with recent reports that Dr. Doom will be making his grand entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the post-credits sequence of Fantastic Four. It goes without saying, but the fifth Avengers movie, currently titled The Kang Dynasty, will likely be renamed.

Marvel Studios Polishing Its Latest Scripts

We now get into the current state of things. Marvel Studios is supposed to start production on multiple projects later this year, and most of them are still getting revisions — which shouldn’t itself be alarming, but rather a sign that Marvel Studios is rethinking their entire strategy and perhaps even having second thoughts on some of their prior story decisions.

Just getting out of production is Agatha: Darkhold Diaries, which had scheduled five days for additional photography but was able to wrap all pending work in a single day in January. The series will be the studio’s only live-action Disney Plus show this year, and they are quite bullish on it. (It’s coming from the creators of their biggest critical streaming success yet, WandaVision, of which it’s a spin-off.) They are also optimistic about the performance of next month’s X-Men ’97, whose trailer had some pretty strong debut numbers considering the scale of the project.

(L-R): Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), Storm (voiced by Alison Sealy-Smith), Gambit (voiced by AJ LoCascio), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann), Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd), Bishop (voiced by Isaac Robinson-Smith), Beast (voiced by George Buza) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

The studio is also doing significant reshoots on Captain America: Brave New World between May and August, we learned earlier this year — the film has been pushed into February 2025. Before that goes up again, Thunderbolts is finally set to start filming in March. The Jake Schreier film has gained some momentum over the past few weeks, with Lewis Pullman replacing Steven Yeun as Sentry, and Geraldine Viswanathan stepping in for Ayo Edebiri.

Furthermore, Lee Sung Jin’s script has undergone multiple rewrites, with The Bear‘s Joanna Calo being the latest to step in to work on it. Here is a very interesting nugget, though: Marvel’s version of Suicide Squad was apparently more Rogue One-like, as earlier versions of the script ended with the main characters dying. It’s unclear whether this remains the case, though if Marvel allowed for that detail to go into THR‘s story, it seems like they might be rethinking their ending.

Another project that has gone through multiple writers is Matt Shakman’s Fantastic Four reboot, which just announced its core cast: Pedro Pascal as Reed Richards, Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as The Thing, and Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm. Eric Pearson, who wrote Thor: Ragnarok and Black Widow, and had penned the first draft of Thunderbolts, was brought in by Marvel to do some punch-ups. Final writing credits on both of these projects will certainly be interesting.

Image via Marvel Studios

Going up also this year is, hopefully, Blade. The script is advancing well, according to Jeff Sneider via his newsletter, and Mahershala Ali is reportedly happy with how things are going. Disney set a November 2025 release date for the project, but there are a lot of questions about whether Marvel will want to release four films in the same calendar year, especially after Kevin Feige is obviously spread too thin, and Bob Iger has set a mandate to slow things down. Iger left Blade out of Disney’s 2025 calendar in the company’s Q1 earnings call earlier in February.

Next Up for Marvel Studios

X-Men ’97, going up on March 20. However, the main dish will be Wolverine and Deadpool, which is set for a July 26 release date. The marketing is already underway for that film, which supposedly hit a record for trailer views — even though Marvel is also counting the 123 million people who tuned in to watch the Super Bowl and got a 30-second spot during the commercial breaks. Even then, with a reported 365M views in its first 24 hours, there are high expectations for it.

Up in the fall is Agatha: Darkhold Diaries, or whatever name Marvel ends up giving it. But the floodgates will open next year, once again. Currently in production is Wonder Man, while Ironheart wrapped filming a year ago and is still awaiting a release date. At this point, it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing reshoots buzz, but how significant will they be? Both of those should come out in 2025, where Brave New World (February), Thunderbolts (May), and Fantastic Four (July, at least for now) are also set.

What do you think about this new report? Do you think Marvel Studios is in deep trouble or can they recover from it? Have we hit the superhero fatigue era, and should Marvel be pumping the brakes? Who should be the main villain of the next Avengers movies? Let us know your thoughts on our Twitter and also via our Discord server!

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter

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