After kicking off with a bang with the critically-lauded Wandavision, Marvel shows running on Disney+ have steadily faded in quality and fan enthusiasm. With the latest show in production, Daredevil, taking a pause, Marvel TV itself is grappling with a real problem that may require a reboot.
Production for Daredevil: Born Again came to a halt during the writers’ strike, giving executives time to review its progress. After watching the footage, Marvel Studios President Kevin Keige and other executives decided to scrap most of the project and head in a different direction, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Marvel will rebuild the series from the concept up, veering away from it being a legal procedural by bringing on new writers and directors.
Daredevil’s problems are indicative of a more systemic issue facing Marvel TV, which flooded Disney+ with nine shows over the last two years – capped off by the critically savaged Secret Invasion this summer. By trying to bring a system that worked in the movies – which are facing their own criticisms of diminishing returns – the studio has seemingly lost its grip on any sense of quality storytelling.
“We’re trying to marry the Marvel culture with the traditional television culture,” Brad Winderbaum, head of streaming, television, and animation at Marvel, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “It comes down to, ‘How can we tell stories in television that honor what’s so great about the source material?”
While Marvel films have done well for decades, casting the characters to smaller screens hasn’t taken off with quite the same enthusiasm with viewers. Only Loki has reached a second season out of nine series, prompting the studio to rethink its strategy. The Hollywood Reporter notes a pattern of diving into production without clear creative direction, which repeatedly caused tension on Marvel sets.
The result have been a flood of shows with vastly varying quality. Consumers have increasingly called out everything from the shoddy special effects to the poor storylines and dialogue. As a result, viewers are increasingly burning out on Marvel.
Behind the scenes, multiple Marvel series have shifted crews during filming. Secret Invasion, starring Samuel L. Jackson, had several staff changes during its limited run. After a year as writer and executive producer, Brian Tucker replaced Kyle Bradstreet as the studio decided to steer the show down a new plot path. The show underwent several changes, which caused pauses in production and conflicts with talents’ other commitments, including director Thomas Bezucha, assistant directors, production managers, and producers.
The studio has a pattern of spending millions of dollars to create entire seasons without so much as a pilot episode, then going back to adjust the overall result. With Echo and Wonder Man resuming production, Marvel plans to change its approach. The studio will hire showrunners to write scripts for pilots and establish a clearer creative vision for a series to create a more cohesive, fleshed-out story with the legs to run multiple seasons instead of as a limited series.
Instead of using the same staff to produce films and series, the studio will designate executives full-time to television projects.
“We need executives that are dedicated to this medium, that are going to focus on streaming, focus on television because they are two different forms,” said Winderbaum.
Disney declined to comment on the report.