Disney+ Gives up on Struggling MCU, Revives Abandoned Marvel Canon

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Danny Rand/Iron Fist (left), Colleen Wing/Iron Fist (center), Matt Murdock/Daredevil (right) from Marvel's The Defenders

Credit: Edited by ITM

Disney+ has been failing to keep the struggling Marvel Cinematic Universe afloat with streaming TV series and specials, so it’s giving up. Instead, it is time to revive a previously canonical Marvel label to see if it sticks this time.

Credit: Disney Plus

Disney+ MCU

When Disney+ launched in 2019, the MCU has been a huge part of its appeal. For a long time, it was the only streaming service where one could watch colossal Marvel events like Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) and critically acclaimed series like WandaVision and Ms. Marvel. That alone justified the then $6.99 monthly subscription price.

However, in the years since, the price of Disney+ has skyrocketed, the company has pushed ads from every possible direction, original content has regularly been culled in the name of tax breaks and reducing residuals to creatives, and, now, you might have to get Max along with your MCU and Star Wars content if you want a decent price.

A poster for The Marvels with Monica Rambeau in blue, Captain Marvel in yellow, and Kamala Khan in red
Credit: Marvel Studios

At the same time, Marvel Studios has run into the wall of superhero fatigue and faces vastly diminished box office grosses while production budgets skyrocket. While Disney CEO Bob Iger may dismiss the idea that audiences are oversaturated with Marvel Comics content, the proof is out there in the form of the dismal box office performance of The Marvels (2023) and the critical derision given to the Disney+ series Secret Invasion.

Related: Following Deadpool Ban, Disney Already Has Its Captain Marvel Replacement for the MCU

In order to save the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney has decided to cut back on theatrical releases and cancel numerous projects from behind the scenes. The upcoming Ryan Reynolds-Hugh Jackman two-hander Deadpool and Wolverine will be the only theatrical film released in 2024; Kevin Feige apparently hopes that intense pressure and 20th Century Fox X-Men nostalgia will translate to box office diamonds.

A heart made with Deadpool and Wolverine's hands
Credit: Marvel Studios

In 2026, The Fantastic Four and Captain America: Brave New World are scheduled to try to keep the brand vital and alive, but in the meantime, Disney+ is trying something new and reviving an old canonical Marvel brand to reframe its own TV offerings.

Marvel Television Reborn

At the recent Disney Upfront event, it was announced that there was finally an actual name and release date for one of the longest-teased Disney+ MCU shows: Agatha After All, which will premiere on the streaming service on September 18.

A dark background with purple smoke and a glowing light effect highlights the text "Marvel Television Agatha All Along" in the center.
Credit: Marvel Television

But what was more significant than the announcement of the WandaVision spinoff starring Kathryn Hahn was that the series is being released under the imprint of Marvel Television, the defunct production company responsible for shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel Entertainment created Marvel Television in 2010, just after its purchase by The Walt Disney Company, and its relationship to Marvel Studios and the greater MCU canon was always rocky at best. While Kevin Feige had iron control over the MCU feature films and their continuity, Jeph Loeb was in charge of the television division, and, reportedly, the two executives rarely saw eye to eye.

The image shows a red background with the "MARVEL TELEVISION" logo at the center. The word "MARVEL" and "TELEVISION" are written in bold, white capital letters within a rectangular border.
Credit: Marvel Television

Related: Major Marvel Star Prepares to Defect to James Gunn DCU, Admits to New Role

That meant that, over the years, the MCU was increasingly flanked by a series of vaguely related canons. Aside from the Netflix series (which came to include Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders), Marvel Television produced shows like the FX X-Men-adjacent Legion, the supernatural series Helstrom, and the legendarily disappointing Inhumans. In 2019, Kevin Feige was finally given full sway over Disney’s MCU holdings, meaning Jeph Loeb was out, and Marvel Television was absorbed into the larger studio. Effectively, it was shut down in favor of a unified MCU production company.

Credit: ABC Studios

But Disney has now decided to revive the brand, with Agatha After All, Ironheart, and Daredevil: Born Again all under the title. What this means for the former canon of shows like Cloak & Dagger is still unknown, but with the Netflix series being increasingly incorporated into the MCU, it’s a promising sign.

Apparently, another of Disney’s strategies to revitalize the MCU is to divide it into three parts. Marvel Studios will handle theatrical films, Television will do all live-action series, and Animation is what it sounds like. At this point, it is clear that the MCU is being majorly overhauled behind the curtain, but we’ll just have to wait to see what that means for the future.

What upcoming MCU project are you looking forward to the most? Tell us in the comments below!

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