Say Goodbye to These Two Marvel Shows as Disney+ Continues Cracking Down on Content Removal

in Disney, Marvel, Movies & TV

Kevin Feige on the left, and Marvel Logo with a slight background of Marvel Movies on the right

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney’s crackdown on their Disney+ streaming catalog is officially underway, and unfortunately, it looks like two Marvel originals have just been given the boot. The news comes amid the ongoing WGA strike, opening up a public discourse about major studios’ mistreatment of writers—specifically, Marvel. 

Logo for Disney+
Credit: Disney

Earlier this year, it was announced that Disney+, the streaming home of all things Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic, and more, would begin removing content starting in late May. The decision came on the heels of one of its other major streaming competitors, Warner Bros./Discover’s HBO Max, which removed dozens of original titles, including Infinity Train and Aquaman: King of Atlantis.

Even with this in mind, Disney’s choice to follow suit surprised many subscribers, who feared their favorite movies and TV shows would soon become a thing of the past. Since the House of Mouse wholly owns titles and doesn’t have to pay to license them from other studios, this move was incredibly confusing, making some viewers feel as if they had been duped out of what had been originally advertised as streaming exclusives or perks for being a Disney+ subscriber.

Marvel Kevin Feige
Credit: Marvel Studios

But like most behind-the-scenes decisions at Disney, it all comes down to one thing: money.

Why is Disney Removing Original Titles from Disney+?

Starting May 26, various series, documentaries, and originals have been removed from Disney+. While some have survived being axed from the streaming service, others haven’t been so lucky. But why even bother to remove content in the first place?

According to Disney higher-ups, it’s all part of a cost-cutting initiative. By removing select movies or TV shows from its services, Disney can avoid paying residuals to those who created and worked on them, thus saving some money.  

Credit: Marvel Studios

This is a crucial reason why WGA members are currently striking against leading Hollywood studios, as they continue to be severely underpaid for their work in the seemingly lawless land that is streaming. Before, writers were paid consistent residuals every time their show was aired or later re-broadcast on cable TV, whereas now, in streaming, companies have not agreed to pay residuals at the same level as broadcast.

Disney Dusts Two Marvel Original Series from Disney+

When Disney first announced that they would remove select Marvel content from Disney+, fans rioted against the company’s decision to axe two fan-favorite docuseries: MPower and Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever. Ultimately, they survived, but Marvel’s Runaways wasn’t so lucky; now, the same goes for Marvel’s initial two Disney+ projects.

As a result of the Disney+ purge, Marvel’s Hero Project and Marvel’s 616 have officially been scrubbed from the streamer. Marvel’s Hero Project, which debuted in 2019, showcased real-life kids making a difference in their communities, connecting them to the fictional heroes from Marvel comics.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s 616 was an eight-episode anthology series that landed on Disney+ in 2020, putting filmmakers front and center as they explored Marvel’s rich legacy of characters, creators, and stories while highlighting the franchise’s storytelling, pop culture, and fandom.

It remains a mystery why Disney made the move to delete these two specific series from their vast streaming catalog. It’s likely because Marvel’s Hero Project and Marvel’s 616 didn’t generate enough buzz as, say, Loki or WandaVision, but its erasure from the platform is a huge loss for the shows’ talent and creators. 

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Loki
Credit: Marvel Studios

Regardless, it’s safe to say that the move has largely been viewed as a controversial one, and it’ll be interesting to see what Marvel project Disney decides to remove next.

Marvel Accused of ‘Abusing’ TV Writer System

Closely following this news is a bombshell accusation from veteran Marvel writer J. Holtham, who penned Marvel’s Jessica Jones and worked as an executive story editor on Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger. In a recent interview, Holtham shared his story about why he and his colleagues have left the writer’s room for the WGA picket line, sharing a pointed criticism of Marvel and its treatment of creatives.

Daredevil, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in The Defenders
Credit: Netflix/Marvel

Speaking with Popverse, Holtham broke down the motivations behind the ongoing WGA strike and how it relates to studio compensation for writers. According to him, while upper-level writers are paid per episode, the same doesn’t quite apply to inexperienced writers whose pay week to week reduces and reduces and reduces:”

Yes. For an upper-level writer, the quote is $25,000 per script. Say you’re doing ten episodes, and you’re getting $25,000 per episode: You’re getting $250,000. But since that’s not tied to a weekly paycheck [as is the case for younger writers], their pay week to week reduces and reduces and reduces.

The Defenders (left to right) Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage
Credit: Marvel Studios / Netflix

Holtham accused Marvel of taking advantage of this system, citing his personal experience working on Jessica Jones and Cloak & Dagger. As a staff writer, he made $4 thousand per week over the show’s 20-week run, while his pay doubled when he jumped to story editing duties.

While $4 thousand a week might sound like a generous paycheck, you have to compare writers’ earnings to those of studio heads. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s pay topped $39 million in 2022 and roughly $246 million in 2021. Even allocating a fraction of his salary to lower-level staff writers would solve many of strikers’ key demands. Plus, the nature of Hollywood writing opportunities is more like “gig work” rather than a full-time position, meaning their job security outside of, say, a 10-week TV show could remain scarce. So even if they get paid nicely for one project, who knows when the next “gig” will follow.

The issue with this is that Holtham “made more money as a story editor” than Jessica Jones‘ executive producers, who are writers that worked their way up, showing blatant disrespect to the creative minds who actually adapted the source material to TV.

Holtham went on to claim that studios have abused this system more in recent years with the addition of streaming, as writers work far fewer weeks than the once-typical 20, leaving the showrunners “writing all the episodes” and “covering production:”

And since then the studios have just abused the situation even more. Now, instead of a writers’ room for 20 weeks, you’ll get a mini room for 6 or 8 weeks, then the writers leave, and if you’re the showrunner you might just be writing all the episodes yourself, covering set yourself, covering production yourself, and everything gets amortized down. It’s a real f*** you.

Picketers outside Disney Studios
Credit: USA Today

It seems like many of the issues concerning both the WGA strike and Disney’s recent decision to remove original series from streaming are all connected to a greater problem: no one knows how to navigate streaming as Hollywood studios continue to shift original content away from cable TV. These recent events point to trouble ahead for both parties as writers continue to strike until they work out a fair deal with studio heads—which hopefully, is soon.

Are you sad to see Marvel’s Hero Project and Marvel’s 616 go? What do you think of these new accusations against Marvel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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