The MCU Just Hit a New Low - Here's Marvel's Big Problem

By David Thompson Updated:
Marvel Studios logo, Avengers

Marvel Studios has a major problem, and Secret Invasion was just the latest product of a flawed system.

The highly-anticipated show, based on a popular comic book series, ultimately let many fans down, leading to Marvel Studios' first-ever project with a 'Rotten' audience and critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The issues that arose in Marvel's latest project appear entirely story-based, with poor writing and a boring plot. What's possibly most upsetting about this is the loaded cast, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Emilia Clarke, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Olivia Colman, Don Cheadle, and Ben Mendelsohn.

A few lowlights include, G'iah (Clarke) becoming the most powerful being in the MCU, Gravik (Ben-Adir) simply dying in the end, and the confirmation that James Rhodes has likely been a Skrull since the end of Captain America: Civil War.

Remember when Rhodey sat beside his best friend Tony Stark during his final moments in Avengers: Endgame? Turns out that was a random shape-shifting alien named Varra.

Why would that keep fans interested? How could that not upset them?

Marvel Studios Making it Up as They Go

Marvel Studios logo, Shang-Chi, Wanda, Falcon, Star-Lord, Doctor Strange
Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios in many ways is hurting itself, failing to prioritize the development of strong and complete scripts, a crucial part of producing high-quality movies and series. 

James Gunn, now the co-CEO of rival DC Studios, may have slyly called Marvel out on this back in January. He assured DC fans that every project the newly formed studio will produce will have a fully completed script before production:

“I’ve seen it happen again and again — it’s a mess. It’s the primary reason for the deterioration in quality of films today, versus 20-30 years ago.”

A "mess" is exactly what has been seen sprinkled throughout Phases 4 and 5.

This lack of emphasis by Marvel has resulted in extensive reshoots being required for recent projects such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, and, of course, Secret Invasion.

All three are examples of stories that needed to be rapidly reworked and have led to half-baked ideas hitting the big (or small) screen.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange 2
Marvel Studios

Back in November 2021, it was reported that Multiverse of Madness was undergoing substantial reshoots over six weeks in Los Angeles, with both revised scenes and extra footage incorporated. Head writer Michael Waldron was present, writing additional content. 

Xochitl Gomez later confirmed that the reshoots "changed lots of things" including the first scene in the movie with Defender Strange. Gomez added that "[They] did lots of changes for that reshoot, it was pretty insane."

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Ant Man 3
Marvel Studios

The insanity doesn't stop there, Quantumania, starring Paul Rudd and Jonathan Majors, completely changed its ending during last-second reshoots

Ant-Man 3 underwent reshoots just a month before its theatrical release, and a few critical changes were made. In the original ending, Kang survives (and escapes the Quantum Realm), rather than leaving his fate up to interpretation, and traps Scott and Hope there instead.

This is a massive change, that completely changes the tone of the film's ending. In addition, it puts Kang and our heroes in totally different scenarios for future projects.

Secret Invasion

Secret Invasion
Marvel Studios

Arguably the biggest offender was Secret Invasion, which underwent a complete facelift, aka four months of reshoots. In addition, a new writer was brought on to make "the story better."

In October 2020, Kyle Bradstreet, known for his work on Mr. Robot, was revealed as the showrunner and head writer for the series.

Brian Tucker, an executive producer as well, was responsible for extensive rewrites, notably crafting Episodes 1, 3, 5, and 6, and exclusively penning episodes 2 and 4.

Despite (noticeably) limited experience, Tucker effectively transformed the show within a tight timeframe. Tucker's name was also listed above that of Bradstreet's (they both were credited as executive producers).

Per this KostisPat257 on Reddit, this arrangement implies that Tucker effectively assumed the role of showrunner, taking over responsibilities as a head writer throughout the reshoot period, essentially rewriting the entirety of Secret Invasion.

Nothing about these situations communicates confidence, control, and a clear overarching story that continues to be promised by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

Yesterday's Strength Is Today's Problem

Iron Man 2008
Marvel Studios

It's not 2008 anymore. Iron Man isn't the surprise Marvel hit of the year starring a controversial actor and a director with zero previous experience within the genre.

Flexibility has always been a defining trait of the MCU, being able to adjust plots and make changes well into post-production. While that worked most of the time throughout the Infinity Saga, it's beginning to blow up in Marvel Studios' face in the Multiverse Saga

Here are a few numbers. The Infinity Saga ran from 2008-2019, and it consisted of 23 total projects. 

The Multiverse Saga began in 2021, it currently consists of 19 total projects (there are a lot more planned). 

See the problem? Disney CEO Bob Iger openly acknowledged that Marvel's content on Disney+ has led to a "diluted focus and attention" within the studio. 

This falls on the shoulders of Kevin Feige, who in many ways was given an unfair hand. One moment he's being pressured to be the fuel that lights the Disney+ streaming service, and now that's the reason the entire brand is suffering.

As Iger mentioned, it's pretty obvious that Marvel is trying to do too much, and the creative team is being stretched too thin. 

How to Right the MCU Ship

Avengers Endgame
Marvel Studios

It's simple: slow down. 

At Marvel Studios' peak, it was not because it was releasing more projects than audiences could keep up with (which is what's currently happening).

It because the most-successful studio in Hollywood because it was releasing between two and three movies every year starting in 2010 which kept fans on the hook and left many wanting more with a patented post-credits scene.

Now, post-credits scenes, featuring the likes of Harry Styles and Brett Goldstein, offer a look into an uncertain future.

A slew of recent delays have already happened, specifically looking at Avengers 5 and 6 releasing now in 2026 and 2027 (both were initially set to release in 2025), respectively.

Don't be surprised if those continue to move back. Hollywood is currently on pause due to simultaneous actors' and writers' strikes, the first time its happened since 1960.

Meanwhile, Marvel Studios will close out 2023 with three more projects: Loki Season 2, The Marvels, and Echo

Expectations are mixed, many are fully invested in Tom Hiddleston's Loki, while others are dubious of the Hawkeye spin-off Echo dropping all its episodes on the same day November 29. 

How the rest of 2023 goes is vital for the future of the MCU, if two of the three projects are poorly received, this could go down as the worst year in the history of Marvel Studios.

Assemble a team, slow down, focus on making individual stories great, then worry about forming the connective tissue. 

- In This Article: Secret Invasion
Release Date
June 21, 2023
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.