2023 has been a year of a few highs and many lows for Marvel Studios. While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Loki Season 2 both received plenty of praise, Secret Invasion, The Marvels, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania all produced lackluster results. Secret Invasion and Quantumania, in particular, received some of the worst criticisms of any Marvel Cinematic Universe titles to date (and for good reason). December, meanwhile, has seen one of Marvel’s most turbulent years end with the unorthodox release of What If…? Season 2 and the studio officially parting ways with Kang the Conqueror actor Jonathan Majors.
Heading into 2024, Marvel seems fully committed to adopting a less-is-more approach. The studio is set to release an uncharacteristically small number of new titles and seems intent on righting the increasingly directionless ship that has been the MCU these past few years. But can the studio’s 2024 slate actually get the MCU back on track? Right now, the answer to that question seems to be both “yes” and “no.”
In 2024, Marvel is set to release just one movie, the Shawn Levy-directed Deadpool 3. There are plenty of new shows coming to the MCU next year, including Agatha: Darkhold Diaries, Daredevil: Born Again, and Echo — along with animated series like Eyes of Wakanda, Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and Marvel Zombies. But only Echo has a confirmed release date. Meanwhile, Daredevil’s recent setbacks suggest we might not see that series until 2025 at the soonest.
It’s worth noting that unlike movies, which need to claim their theatrical windows far ahead of time, TV premieres often get announced mere weeks before their premiere. But still, the fact remains that 2024 is shaping up to be one of Marvel’s sparsest years in recent memory — and that’s a good thing.
Marvel has struggled to keep up with its own output in recent years, resulting in several movies and TV shows that feel rushed (and even unfinished in parts). By focusing on a select group of live-action titles next year, Marvel may be able to fix the falling quality level of the MCU. As disparate as they are, Echo, Agatha: Darkhold Diaries, and Deadpool 3 all seem more primed for success than some of Marvel’s more recent efforts. At the very least, they’re all projects that seem sure of what they are and what they’re meant to be.
An overall dip in quality isn’t the only issue that’s plagued the MCU as of late. The franchise has also lost the sense of cohesion that originally brought so many viewers to it. Will Marvel’s 2024 titles be able to address that problem? Right now, it seems unlikely. Deadpool 3, Echo, and Agatha: Darkhold Diaries just seem too different and too loosely connected to collectively give the MCU the kind of overarching reset that it needs. Echo is even, notably, set to launch the new Marvel Spotlight subdivision of the MCU, which will encompass all the new movies and Disney+ shows that don’t require knowledge of the franchise’s previous entries to be enjoyed.
The MCU is in a bit of a perilous state — and it has been for years. Fortunately, Marvel’s decision to lower its output suggests it isn’t incapable of making the kind of changes necessary to save its once-dominant Hollywood franchise. Whether 2024 will be the successful year Marvel needs remains to be seen, but its smaller number of MCU projects certainly suggests a positive change in direction.
That said, the days of every MCU TV show and movie carrying the same weight and importance may very well be over. 2024 may even mark the start of a new era for the MCU — one that’s defined by a greater level of overall quality than the studio’s recent years and a noticeably decreased focus on interconnectivity and cohesion.