(Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Netflix)
Over the course of the past two weeks, a monumental change in the way Marvel Entertainment handles its creative endeavors took place. On the ground, it may appear like a humdrum shift of executives, but its effects will be far reaching. The change? Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, is now the chief creative officer at Marvel overall. This means he has the final say in all of their film, television, and publishing endeavors. At the moment, it appears the change will not drastically upset the day-to-day business of Marvel Comics, but the news almost immediately changed things at Marvel Television, the unit of Marvel Entertainment run by Jeph Loeb.
Loeb has been the executive vice president of Marvel Television since 2010, making him the ultimate authority on programs like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and animated offerings like the current Spider-Man and the Marvel Rising series. He also shepherded Marvel efforts in the streaming sphere with the Netflix series like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage and Runaways on Hulu and served as an executive producer on FX’s Legion.
But shortly after Feige was announced as the new CCO, word broke of Loeb’s planned departure from the company, a move that reportedly was in the works prior to Feige’s new appointment. The news follows a general trend established when Marvel Studios, not Marvel Television, announced it would make limited run series with its MCU Avengers for the Disney+ service.
For fans of characters like the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye, there is nothing but good news here. Fans of Marvel Television, however, have found their favorite shows disappearing in a snap. So let’s take a look at the potential ramifications of Loeb’s departure and what it means for Marvel Television.
As we often like to mention when discussing Marvel, the names of their divisions matter in the scope of the Walt Disney Company overall. And in this case, the distinction is the primary issue. Marvel Studios is a division of the Walt Disney Studio while Marvel Television is a unit of Marvel Entertainment, which operates as a separate entity from the Studio in the Walt Disney family of companies. This was not always the case, though. In 2015, Feige initiated Marvel Studios’ transfer to the Walt Disney Studio, reportedly to escape the control of Marvel Chairman Isaac Perlmutter. His effort was successful, but it changed a key element of Marvel Television’s strategy: the notion that Marvel’s TV shows would be connected to the films. After Marvel Studios left Marvel Entertainment, those connections generally amounted to namechecks in Marvel Television series with zero reciprocity on the studio side until James D’Arcy’s cameo in Avengers: Endgame as Agent Carter’s Edwin Jarvis.
But beyond this creative divide was the sense that the studio and Marvel Television were far more separate than anyone was really willing to admit. Although, this separation was made crystal clear last May when Loeb himself told Rotten Tomatoes and various other reporters that creative decisions for the sixth and seven seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had to be made without the knowledge of Endgame’s five-year jump in time.
“We had to go without knowing where they were going,” he said. “Otherwise, we’d be living in a world that was brilliantly shown in Endgame.”
This lack of communication will disappear with Feige now in charge of Marvel Television — although, it is currently unclear if Marvel Television will remain its own branded unit. Thanks to the Disney+ limited series, Marvel Studios built up its own television production unit which may make Marvel Television entirely redundant. Also, considering the unfortunate amount of cancellations in Marvel Television’s column over the last year — including Cloak & Dagger, which Freeform finally canceled last Friday — the unit may just be dissolved entirely.
Although, it is also possible Marvel Studios will use the name and some of the people in the unit. Presumably, its successful children’s animation initiatives will continue on with minimal changes, in much the same way Marvel Comics will continue with its current leadership. And though it means some good people will most likely lose their jobs, at least everything will finally be connected.
(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
As we mentioned earlier, the evident disconnect between shows like Runaways and the feature films will disappear in this new era of Marvel content. Feige (pictured above with Marvel star Scarlett Johansson) himself said as much when he discussed the studio’s Disney+ plan at August’s D23 Expo while announcing four new series set to join their calendar: Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, Hawkeye, and She-Hulk.
These additional Disney+ announcements read like a list of dream projects lifted directly from Loeb’s desk. Moon Knight was often rumored to be part of a second wave of Netflix content from Marvel Television, while She-Hulk and the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye both neatly fit the description of a female-led series the division was reportedly developing for ABC as a companion to S.H.I.E.L.D. Also, all of these characters feel a part of the unacknowledged Marvel Television universe. Well, that is to say Moon Knight would make a splash as the first truly costumed character in The Defender’s Manhattan while Ms. Marvel’s Kamala Khan and She-Hulk’s Jennifer Walters would fit right into the brighter, poppier Marvel world of S.H.I.E.L.D.
But considering these are all Marvel Studios production, we can’t help but think they will chart their own course and ignore events established on S.H.I.E.L.D. or Daredevil. And with Loeb gone, no one will feel particularly inclined to advocate for the established Marvel Television programs or their histories. Additionally, Marvel Studios will not be able to develop television projects based on any of the characters from the Netflix shows for another 18 months (at the earliest), suggesting they may start from scratch when Luke Cage and the Punisher become available to them. The Marvel TV universe, as we’ve known it since S.H.I.E.L.D.’s debut in 2013, may experience a very permanent blip of its own.
Although, that Edwin Jarvis cameo in Endgame is one positive sign that all may not be lost. But even if, say, Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph play Cloak & Dagger’s Tandy and Tyrone again in a Marvel Studios show, don’t expect them to reference the events of their recently canceled series.
(Photo by ABC)
Even before word of Loeb’s departure broke, there was the sense Marvel Television was already winding down. During the summer, he happily proclaimed a new “Adventure Into Fear” initiative on Hulu. The plan featured new live-action series, anchored by a planned Ghost Rider program, which would delve into Marvel Comic’s horror titles in a mode incompatible with Disney+ family friendly edict. Gabriel Luna, who played the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider on S.H.I.E.L.D., was set to reprise his role. Plans were also afoot for Helstrom, a series based on Marvel’s Damion Helstom – a.k.a. the Son of Satan.
Additionally, Hulu and Marvel Television were in process of developing four animated series based on concepts as wild as Hit-Monkey (a literal monkey turned hit-man), and M.O.D.O.K. — the Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. Said to appeal to adult animation fans, the programs would culminate in a one-hour special cheekily called The Offenders.
Then Hulu passed on Ghost Rider just as rumors surfaced indicating Marvel Studios had its own interest in the character.
At the present, it appears the “Adventure Into Fear” initiative is dead, although Helstrom is going forward with a cast including Tom Austen, Sydney Lemmon, and Elizabeth Marvel. According to a Marvel press release, the series will debut on Hulu sometime in 2020. But without Loeb, it seems unlikely the Marvel Studios version of Marvel Television will continue the “Adventure Into Fear” when it has its own plans for horror with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
Also, it is unclear if The Offenders programs will still go forward. Thanks to the long lead times needed for animation, it is possible at least one or two of the series will make to production and stream on Hulu. But it is also possible the whole thing will be scrapped.
This Hulu uncertainty also extends to Runaways. Though a constant success for the streamer, it is unknown if the program will return after its third season launches on December 13.
(Photo by ABC/Marvel)
But if there’s one (admittedly silly) good thing to come from Loeb’s departure, it is the potential elimination of Marvel’s Inhumans from the MCU. Once meant to be a feature film in Marvel Studio’s Phase 3, the project was allegedly part of Perlmutter’s hopes to downplay the importance of the X-Men by recasting the Inhuman concept as the MCU answer to mutants. But once Marvel Studios became a Disney Studios division, Inhumans kept getting pushed farther into the distance.
Eventually, Marvel Television took it on and the results were — well, 11% on the Tomatometer really says it all. Despite good actors like Anson Mount, exquisite location shooting in Hawaii, and a willingness to put a giant teleporting bulldog on screen, the show was shockingly generic. Its plot ended with the Inhuman royal family and their subjects moving to Hawaii and preparing for an ancient, unseen enemy. Thanos may have been the implied threat, but it seems Feige was the foe they were really bracing for.
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Rumors indicate Marvel Studios is looking to recast the Inhuman royal family for the Ms. Marvel series. The character is an Inhuman and interacts with the Inhuman royal family on a number of occasions. She also ends up taking care of that teleporting bulldog for a time. If the rumors are true, it likely means this one series is definitely out of MCU continuity.
And for all the good Loeb did at Marvel Television — we did get two seasons of Agent Carter, three seasons of Legion, seven of S.H.I.E.L.D., and shows dedicated to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, after all — we won’t mind if this one element of his tenure slips quietly away into dust.
(Photo by Netflix)
Loeb’s formal announcement is expected before Thanksgiving with his departure occurring by the end of the year, giving him a full decade at Marvel, Deadline reported. In addition to his executive producer role on the Marvel titles mentioned previously, the titles he oversaw included The Punisher, The Defenders, Iron Fist, and The Gifted. Loeb previously had been a producer and writer on NBC’s Heroes and The CW’s Smallville, was a supervising producer on ABC’s Lost, and co-wrote 1985 film Teen Wolf, starring Michael J. Fox.