Marvel Has Lost Sight of What Made Its Great Streaming Experiment a Success

Why limit art to just sure things?

Marvel is very aware of “superhero fatigue,” the persistent term referring to the exhaustion fans have about the onslaught of comic book movies and TV shows. For years, executives have teased the future of the franchise lies in focusing on “quality over quantity,” and while that means more care and focus poured into fewer projects, it does mean that many ideas won’t see the light of day.

But in a recent earnings call, Disney CEO revealed in hard numbers what “quality over quantity” means, and while the movie slate seems to be on track, the TV series scale-down proves the best parts of Marvel television have been completely overlooked.

Disney CEO Bob Iger feels confident about the new, scaled-back Marvel schedule ahead.


In the earnings call to shareholders reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Iger revealed the ultimate goal for Marvel Studios is to release two to three movies per year and two TV series. “We’re slowly going to decrease volume and go to probably about two TV series a year instead of what had become four, and reduce our film output from maybe four a year to two or at the maximum three,” he said.

Considering there’s only one Marvel movie this year, the movie output is an improvement, but two TV shows per year is a shockingly low number. We’re not even halfway through the year and Disney+ has almost already maxed out that number: Echo premiered in January of this year and X-Men ‘97 wraps up next week, and there’s still Agatha: Darkhold Diaries (or whatever the title ends up being) scheduled for fall. With plenty of undated Marvel shows like Eyes of Wakanda and Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man ahead, plus the already-greenlit X-Men ‘97 Season 2, there’s not a lot of room for experimentation on the strict two-a-year schedule ahead.

WandaVision had a risky, surreal premise but launched Marvel TV and even an upcoming spinoff.

Marvel Studios

But experimentation is the best part of television. The medium allows ideas like WandaVision’s surreal examination of grief via an era-hopping homage to sitcoms to flourish, or Loki’s time-travel conspiracy thriller to become a success. X-Men ‘97 is a smash hit for Disney+, but its Saturday-morning premise could be seen as risky if it were introduced today. TV allows these bigger swings to sit comfortably alongside sure things like event series like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Disney+ originals, if produced smartly, have the potential to be Marvel’s research and development department. It’s where different ideas and heroes can be attempted, with the most successful graduating to cameos in the big Avengers team-up movies that will dominate the movie slate. Hopefully, the few new series we will get in the future will understand this and not just be the safe choices.

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