Fans awaiting upcoming installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are going to have to wait, in some cases, quite a bit longer, as Disney has shifted the release dates of four upcoming Marvel-branded Disney+ series back amid the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
Disney Delays Marvel Disney+ Series
“What If…?,” “Echo,” “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries” (previously “Agatha: Coven of Chaos”), and “X-Men ’97” have all received new release dates as part of the mass pushback first reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “Loki” season 2, the next Disney+ project coming from Marvel, has not moved. The new season will still premiere on October 6.
“What If…?” season 2 will premiere this holiday season with no firm date yet set; using Disney+’s past release schedule as a trend, the new “What If…?” season likely won’t debut until after the “Loki” season 2 finale airs. The show was initially scheduled to release earlier this year. “What If…?” is an animated series that is MCU-adjacent in substance; the show utilizes characters and ideas introduced and explored in the universe, but twists them on their heads. The events of the show are not canon to the larger franchise narrative.
“Echo” has moved from its November 29 release date to a vague “January 2024” designation, per THR. The show will see Alaqua Cox reprise her role as Maya Lopez from “Hawkeye” and also star Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, who too made his canonical MCU debut in “Hawkeye” after previously appearing in the “Daredevil” Netflix series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, all “Echo” episodes will ultimately be dropped at the same time, this a departure from the standard Disney+ weekly release format.
“X-Men ’97,” a series that serves as a pseudo-sequel to the 1990s “X-Men” cartoon as opposed to a proper MCU entry, will now debut in “early 2024” instead of its previous “fall 2023” date.
The recently renamed “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries” is the biggest shifter, moving from its winter 2023 release date to a more apt “early fall 2024” window. THR reports that the series will air in the leadup to Halloween, which is fitting given the show’s expected horror-adjacent content. “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries” is led by Kathryn Hahn, who is reprising her role as Agatha Harkness from “Wandavision.” The series will also star Joe Locke and Aubrey Plaza.
The release date push is due in part to Marvel’s desire to “make each title an event for fans and audiences,” according to THR. As part of their report on the release date shift, Deadline added that Disney+, in general, is “making less product.“
WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes
The biggest drivers in these delays are the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which have been occurring since May and July, respectively. WGA and SAG-AFTRA workers cannot produce new content as part of the continuing labor dispute, and thus, studios are shifting the release windows of completed projects to give themselves more options.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has become a controversial figure throughout the strikes; he stole headlines in mid-July after he described the labor actions as “very disturbing” and the demands of the striking workers as “not realistic.” He later backtracked a bit, stating on The Walt Disney Company’s Q3 2023 earnings call that he is “personally committed” to ending the strikes.
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