Marvel Studios has been one of the cornerstone brands for Disney+ since it launched, with Disney going all in on original programming like “WandaVision” and “Loki”.  Following on from the huge box office success of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”, Marvel Studios seemed untouchable.

The studio drastically increased the number of shows and films it produced when the pandemic hit, as Disney+ subscribers were growing much faster than expected, and audiences wanted more content.  It wasn’t just Marvel, but also churning out more content, as every streaming service wanted more superheroes, with DC putting out multiple shows and films, along with Netflix and Amazon getting in on the action.

Over the last year, we’ve been hearing more and more about superhero fatigue, as many major projects from Marvel and DC have struggled to find an audience, either at the box office or on streaming platforms.  While there have been some huge successes, like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 3”, there have been many movies that have just failed to capture the audience’s attention.

While Wall Street was egging on Hollywood studios to get as many subscribers as possible, which wasn’t difficult in a period when everyone was locked away at home during a pandemic, but things changed when Wall Street was looking at the streaming services and realised they weren’t making any money, which wasn’t good for business.

Stocks tumbled, and many studios, including Disney, had to make drastic changes, focusing on profitability over subscriber numbers.    And when former Disney CEO Bob Chapek was pushed out of the role, to bring back Bob Iger in late 2022, there was a huge shift within the company.

With the stock price at a low, box office numbers shrinking, linear television incomes dropping and streaming subscribers being lost, Disney went on a major cost-cutting exercise to save over $7 billion.

One way this has been achieved is by drastically reducing the number of original shows created for Disney’s streaming and linear platforms. Spending so much money to keep feeding subscribers at a loss was no longer sustainable.

Over the years, during events like Investors Day, D23 Expo, Disney+ Day, and San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel has kept announcing new exciting projects for cinemas and Disney+. In 2023, the original plan was for Disney+ to get five live-action series, multiple animated shows, and theatrically released movies like “The Marvels”.

With Disney releasing so many projects too quickly, audiences began to become frustrated and bored of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  What at one point was “Must Watch”, was no longer seen as “necessary”.   Audiences started skipping shows and films for many reasons since the push by Disney on Marvel to make more content had seen the quality reduce. 

There have been many other issues with the latest phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, introducing too many new characters at once, having no apparent overarching story (i.e. Thanos in the Infinity Saga) and not featuring many of the established characters from the previous films.   

Many of these problems also impacted other studios like Lucasfilm and Pixar, which is why Bob Iger quickly made changes to get the focus back on quality over quantity. Disney is also involved in a culture war, which hasn’t helped the box office numbers or streaming viewing numbers, which is why Bob Iger wants the teams to focus on story over messaging, which might help bring some families back.

The Hollywood strikes also helped Disney pull back some projects, space upcoming titles out more, and spend time fixing some of the issues, such as almost restarting the “Daredevil: Born Again” Disney+ series. 

While promoting the new animated series, “X-Men ’97”, Marvel Studios head of streaming Brad Winderbaum recently confirmed the problem was the push to create content for Disney+ during the Phase Zero podcast.

“Frankly, in all honesty, there was a mandate to kind of create as much as we could for Disney+, as quickly as we could.”

And in another interview with THR to promote the new animated series, “X-Men ’97,” which arrives on Disney+ on March 20th. During the interview, he was asked how they are picking their projects more carefully, to which Brad replied:

Yes, certainly the world has shifted. The original idea was that we can create whatever we wanted to launch Disney+ and to have a home for new Marvel ideas to take place. And now we do have to be a little bit more judicious with our choices. But one thing that’s liberating about television is, because it’s a longer form and it takes place over more time and is not just two hours, we are able to look at the Marvel characters and see how they can blossom in unexpected ways.

So we can still be a little bit more experimental and take some risks, but like anything else, you learn as you go. We’ve always known this, but one thing I’ve learned that’s really true is that the characters are still at the core of everything we do. Creating entertaining, fun-to-watch characters that can teach empathy and hold a mirror up to the audience and become an emotional conduit for people, that’s still our guiding principle.

Ultimately, in the long run, Marvel Studios will be in a better position if it can focus on making the best shows and films possible.  Churning out four films and five live-action shows, plus Special Presentations and animated series in a single year, just wasn’t going to work, neither for the creatives nor audiences.  It’s simply too much.

So now we are going to see a drastic reduction in the amount of Marvel content we see released in cinemas and on Disney+.  That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get anything, but now it’s hopefully going to be better, and in the long run, that should be best for everyone.

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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