This past week, the Disney corporation announced that their slate of Marvel Studios films originally set for release in 2022 will all be moving up a slot.
“Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” originally releasing in March, is now taking “Thor: Love and Thunder’s” May 6 date. “Thor” is moving to July 8, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is pushed to Nov. 11. There is much discussion about why this change was made, and what this means for the other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.
There has been a ton of coverage about this delay from entertainment journalism and the coverage has been walled into two basic streams. The first stream is related to the continued hesitation of audiences to go back to theaters due to COVID-19 and how, due to Disney’s recent controversy surrounding “Black Widow” and Scarlett Johansson, Disney is avoiding any digital releases. The second stream is about the delays’ proximity to the release of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film, “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the title role. There is an astronomically underreported coincidence with the delays as well, but we’ll touch on that later.
The first prong of the coverage has a few flaws. The idea that Disney is hesitant about upcoming Marvel films releasing only in theaters while COVID-19 is still all the rage doesn’t really make sense after the success of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” The film, starring relative film newcomer Simu Liu, broke several box-office records, including the third best opening day of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second biggest COVID-19 pandemic era debut, and the biggest Labor Day weekend of any film ever. Disney would have no reason to believe that their films, especially those of the MCU, would have poor performance.
There is the other hole in this framing of course: that Shang Chi was a largely unknown comic book character before his film. Well-established characters like Thor and Doctor Strange don’t really carry the same anxiety as Shang Chi does.
The second prong of the coverage in relation to “The Batman” is entirely hollow. I can guarantee that Disney doesn’t give a damn about another film franchise taking away the profits or success of a gargantuanly successful franchise like the MCU. There is not an iceberg that can sink this Titanic.
According to Variety Magazine, Disney has stated that the delays are due to “production issues.” However, if you do a little searching about the film and television industry right now, you might be able to find the “issues” that Disney is referencing.
Recently, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) threatened a strike of its laborers if demands were not met. An agreement was reached between the labor union and producers, but the conditions of the agreement put a bad taste in many workers’ mouths. There are some who have perceived this odd coincidence as Disney’s way of stacking the deck if the workers end up striking after all.
Only time will tell if Disney maintains the course they’ve set or if an impending labor strike in the entertainment industry could derail their plans. If there is a strike, remember: don’t cross the picket line!