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Marvel’s movie delays give us the break we need from the MCU

Published Nov 10th, 2023 6:06PM EST
Deadpool 3 first look photo shows off Deadpool and Wolverine in costume.
Image: Marvel Studios

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Shortly after the 2023 actors’ strike came to an end, as SAG-AFTRA and the studios reached a new three-year deal, Disney shared new release dates for four upcoming Marvel movies. These delays are sure to frustrate fans of the franchise, but given the sad state of the MCU, this might be the break that both the viewers and Marvel need.

As for the new release dates, Deadpool 3 is now set for July 26, 2024; Captain America: Brave New World hits theaters on February 14, 2025; Thunderbolts lands on July 25, 2025; and Blade moves to November 7, 2025. That’s right — we’re only getting one Marvel movie in 2024, and it won’t arrive until the second half of the year.

I think this should be a net positive for everyone involved. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a bloated mess, and as I have pointed out on half a dozen occasions, the four lowest-rated MCU projects to date have all been released in the last three years (and The Marvels currently has a worse rating than Thor: Love and Thunder on Rotten Tomatoes).

As a self-proclaimed fan of the MCU, I have felt obligated to keep up with every new show and movie. More often than not, I’ve been let down by Marvel’s latest releases, from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to Secret Invasion. I don’t have comic book fatigue — I’m playing and loving Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on PS5 right now! — but I am struggling to get excited about the MCU. I know I’m not alone in that, and I have a feeling that the next 12 months are going to shape the future of Marvel Studios and the MCU.

On Friday, The Marvels began playing in theaters. The initial reaction has been relatively tepid, both from critics and box office projections. However it ends up faring, there’s a decent chance that it will be the least financially successful Marvel movie in years.

After that, Marvel has three Disney+ shows on the docket: What If…? season 2 in December 2023, Echo on January 10, 2024, and X-Men ’97 in early 2024. These shows might not appear to have much in common at first glance, but they do have a key similarity: They aren’t beholden to the ongoing story of the MCU’s Multiverse Saga.

In fact, Echo will be the first project under Marvel’s Spotlight banner, which the studio describes as “a platform to bring more grounded, character-driven stories to the screen, and in the case of Echo, focusing on street-level stakes over larger MCU continuity.” In other words, you don’t have to watch 30+ movies to understand what’s going on in Echo.

Meanwhile, What If…? does explore alternate realities that are part of the MCU multiverse, but these are mostly standalone stories. And X-Men ’97 is a direct sequel to X-Men: The Animated Series from the ’90s. That’s three consecutive Marvel releases that have little or nothing to do with the multiverse, incursions, or the end of reality.

After that comes Deadpool 3, which, as noted above, will be the only Marvel Studios theatrical release of 2024. The last time Marvel released one movie in an entire calendar year was 2012. You probably remember it, because that was The Avengers.

Putting that much pressure on Deadpool 3 isn’t fair to director Shawn Levy or producer and star Ryan Reynolds, but the movie needs to be a smash hit. Marvel has one chance to get us back on board as we round the back half of the Multiverse Saga. If they can’t do it with a sequel to two of the most successful R-rated movies of all time, it might never happen.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.