The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a fine-tuned machine, with movies and television shows scheduled years in advance and tightly co-ordinated to lead into future projects and lay the groundwork for upcoming movies and TV shows in an exquisite demonstration of perpetual motion. Of course, the problem with that set-up is that the smallest complication can entirely disrupt such a machine — and the WGA work stoppage isn’t exactly a small complication at the best of times.
The Writers Guild of America officially went on strike May 2, following a failure to come to terms for a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The strike immediately impacted late nigh television programming, with shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shutting down production immediately, with many industry watchers warning that movie production could be seriously impacted.
Last week, that impact hit with the news that Marvel’s Blade was on hold because the screenplay wasn’t finalized before the strike began, leaving the production — which was set to start shooting in June 2023 in Atlanta — without a final script to work from. The movie’s journey to the screen has been anything but smooth; director Yann Demange took over the movie in November 2022, replacing original director Bassam Tariq, who had only been announced as directing a handful of months earlier; Demange arrived with a new writer, Michael Starrbury, who was himself replaced in April 2023 by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, who was said to be reworking Starrbury’s script.
That’s not the only Marvel project to be affected by the strike; as flagged by Bleeding Cool, production on Daredevil was halted by a picket line and the local Teamsters union refusing to cross the line; a day later, news arrived that Wonder Man, currently in production in Los Angeles, has been hit twice by WGA strike action in the past week.
There are a number of Marvel projects currently in production or prepping for production that are likely to be affected by the strike. Four Marvel projects are currently in production — Captain America: New World Order, Agatha: Coven of Chaos, Daredevil: Born Again, and Wonder Man — all of which could be derailed should any existing scripts need to be reworked. Sources inside Marvel suggest that won’t be the case, with pre-scheduled reshoots taking care of any problems… but that works on the assumption that the strike would be over before said reshoots take place, which might not turn out to be the case. Plus, as the Daredevil and Wonder Man situations demonstrate, picket lines and people being unwilling to cross them could cause further problems.
Additionally, Deadpool 3 is scheduled to start shooting in late May, with Thunderbolts scheduled for a June start — the latter another movie that recently changed writers, with Beef’s Lee Sung Jin joining the project in late March to rewrite the entire thing. Was that rewrite finished before the WGA work stoppage began?
In terms of Disney+ shows, Marvel is sitting on a number of shows that have completed shoots last year — beyond the already scheduled Secret Invasion, there’s Echo, Ironheart, and the second season of Loki, all of which have completed production and are in various stages of nearing completion; also scheduled as part of Phase 5 of the MCU are Agatha: Coven of Chaos and Daredevil: Born Again, with the latter already feeling the effects of the strike.
Wonder Man has yet to be scheduled, but is expected to be part of Phase 6, which begins in late 2024.
What this is ultimately going to mean for Marvel depends on how long the strike continues, bluntly; will delays be a matter of weeks, or months? The former is something that will cause schedule crunches further down the line, but is ultimately manageable, but the latter is far more significant of an issue. Time-traveling villain Kang might have to wait a little longer to put his plans into motion than even he believed, as it turns out.