Marvel Reportedly Changing MCU Script Strategy Following Phase 4 Struggles

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
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Marvel Studios is reportedly making some major changes to its script strategy after Phase 4 and Phase 5's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania received criticism.

Within roughly the last month, the studio brought on board three new writers to rewrite upcoming 2024/2025 movies that have not yet begun production, indicating major shifts taking place at the MCU studio.

True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto took over Blade from Michael Starrbury, Avatar: The Way of Water scribe Josh Friedman was brought onto Fantastic Four in place of Jeff Kaplan and Ian Springer, and Netflix's Beef originator Lee Sung Jin replaced Eric Pearson on Thunderbolts, marking his feature film debut.

How Marvel's Writer Replacements Reveal a Bigger Change

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During the latest edition of The Hot Mic podcast, Above the Line's Jeff Sneider discussed the major changes Marvel Studios is making behind the scenes when it comes to the development & script process for MCU movies. 

The majority of Marvel's newly-hired writers are all coming off acclaimed projects, which Sneider pointed out by saying they are "spending a lot more money on writers:

"If you have been paying attention in the last few weeks or months you would notice that Marvel has been spending a lot more money on writers. Just today, we saw the news that Nic Pizzolatto, they brought in as the new writer on 'Blade.' Just like Josh Friedman, the expensive 'Sarah Connor Chronicles' writer, he's a big name writer in this town. They got him for 'Fantastic Four.' Lee Sung Jin, the 'Beef' creator, they just hired [for 'Thunderbolts']."

Analyzing the decision, Sneider suggested they are "not going out to the newbie writers anymore" and are instead targeting "some heavy hitters:"

"So pay attention guys, they are not going out to the newbie writers anymore. They are going out to some heavy hitters for writers, that's the Marvel secret that no one has talked about yet. They are now paying for writers."

The news comes after Sneider previously suggested a similar shift on the directorial front, with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige now eager to "hire more established talent behind the camera."

Why Marvel Studios Is Replacing Movie Writers

Marvel Studios appears to be taking major steps to course-correct from recent failures after the backlash to much of Phase 4 and the abysmal reactions to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. At least, fortunately, the old reliable James Gunn appears to have delivered a hit with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

While Guardians 3 came from the highly-experienced Gunn and accrued massive acclaim, Ant-Man 3 came from Jeff Loveness, whose only major prior credit was on Rick & Morty, and was panned. The difference in reactions to the MCU's two latest movies may signal Marvel Studios' exact problem on the writing front. 

The Multiverse Saga has been all about risks - expanding to television, introducing new characters, starting new franchises, and bringing in fresh talent. But perhaps Marvel Studios has taken a few too many risks on that final front, and the quality of its output has undeniably suffered for it.

Three writer replacements in 30 days clearly point toward a shift in overall script strategy at Marvel Studios, and all of these change-ups undeniably represent an uptick in experience and acclaim. One can only hope these will work out well in the long run and ultimately result in better-received movies to come.

Although fans shouldn't be surprised if these kinds of drastic overhauls could spark delays in production, and therefore release, for some upcoming movies. This is especially true given Marvel Studios is making this strategy shift right ahead of Hollywood's upcoming writer strike over a desire for increased pay.

Could Marvel Fire Its Avengers 5 & 6 Writers?

Perhaps what's most important to see here is Marvel Studios' awareness of what is and isn't working about its current development strategy. A major question coming from this is whether Jeff Loveness and Michael Waldron could see themselves replaced as the writers of The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars, respectively.

The backlash to Quantumania could find Marvel Studios searching for someone else to pen Avengers 5, especially if Loveness' first draft isn't up to scratch. Although Waldron ought to be safer on Secret Wars given the success of Loki and how Doctor Strange 2 wasn't anywhere near Ant-Man 3 levels of hated.

But if either were to be replaced, whose door could Kevin Feige find himself knocking on to take over writing duties for his Avengers blockbusters? 

Well, if only Loveness OR Waldron were to be replaced, the obvious solution would be to have the other tag in. Or, if both somehow got the boot, Infinity War and Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely would be a safe and reliable choice to deliver another batch of Avengers hits.

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is currently placed to hit theaters on May 2, 2025, with Avengers: Secret Wars set to follow on May 1, 2026.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.