It may be a new year, but the same old problems are seemingly disrupting Marvel's release schedule plans.
After its upcoming Blade movie reboot was hit by production issues in late 2022, Marvel is facing more Phase 5 launch date headaches. According to industry insiders, many of the studio's in-development Disney Plus shows are likely to be delayed, with one even being pushed back into 2025.
Even so, I'm not worried about potential Marvel Phase 5 release delays. Before I explain my lack of concern, let's take a look at the rumors in question.
On January 7, CanWeGetSomeToast – a credible Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) leaker – claimed that What If...? season 2 was being pushed to 2024. The animated series was expected to be the first MCU TV show released this year, so its delayed release suggests it's had a problematic development cycle.
With other MCU animated shows reportedly facing release delays or even outright cancellations, such as Spider-Man: Freshman Year, What If...? season 2's potential issues won't come as a surprise to some.
Moderators of the Marvel Studios Spoilers Reddit page have also heard that Echo may launch in 2024. That seemingly lines up with comments attributed to Echo's showrunner Marion Dayre, who told The Writers Panel podcast (in December 2022) that Echo would premiere "probably a year from when this [the podcast] comes out". MCU insider Charles Murphy has similarly heard of an early 2024 release for Echo, despite Disney's in-house D23 magazine suggesting that Echo is still on track for a 2023 launch.
Elsewhere, WandaVision spin-off Agatha: Coven of Chaos is rumored to arrive in 2025. The follow-up to one of the best Disney Plus shows was expected to be released in 2024, with filming apparently beginning in February 2023.
But it's not all bad news on the Marvel TV front. CanWeGetSomeToast has also claimed that Secret Invasion, one of Marvel's 2023 TV shows, will debut on Disney's streamer in May. Meanwhile, Loki season 2 – the sequel to the most popular MCU TV show so far – and Ironheart, the TV sequel to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will also arrive sometime this year. Add in Marvel's 2023 movie slate, which includes Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and there's plenty for MCU fans to be excited about.
Those upcoming releases aren't the main reason why I'm unconcerned about other potential Phase 5 launch delays, though. And it's the MCU previous batch of films and shows – MCU Phase 4 – that holds the key as to why.
In short, Phase 4 was a mixed bag for Marvel fans. As we noted in our Marvel Phase 4 ranked article, there have been as many misfires as there have been successes for Marvel over the past two years.
Sure, it's been fascinating to see Marvel experiment with its tried-and-tested formula. and take a break from its penchant for interconnectivity in its recent projects. However, some productions felt rushed, took narrative missteps, and – in rare instances – felt superfluous in the context of the MCU.
Did we really need a fourth Thor film – Thor: Love and Thunder – that retread the same comedy-based ground as Thor: Ragnarok, its superior predecessor? And what about the MCU's first slate of TV shows, the quality of which varied between projects and, in some cases, from episode to episode?
To my mind, Marvel's box office success was built on sound judgement, being methodical in all aspects of production, and rhythmically pacing the release of its content. Pre-Phase 4, three movies per year – four at a maximum – was enough to satiate the MCU's global fanbase. Add in the studio's various shows and TV specials, and suddenly the superhero market (particularly from an MCU standpoint) is saturated beyond comprehension.
Disappointing as these supposed release date delays will be to some, then, it'll be a relief if Marvel confirms that it's pushed Echo, What If...? season 2, and Agatha: Coven of Chaos back a year. Doing so gives Marvel more time to make them as good as possible, and decongest its Phase 5 and Phase 6 slates, and shows that it's learning from the mistakes it previously made.
Three movies and three TV shows is more than enough MCU content to savor in 2023 – and I'm sure many likeminded fans would agree. So please, Marvel, if you need to delay some shows this year, don't feel bad about it. Start making the best superhero films and TV series again, and you won't hear us complaining.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.
Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.
Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.