In an instance of life imitating art, Disney introduced a new Sacred Timeline for Marvel audiences where Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness doesn't release in March but in May, and Marvel Studios' entire 2022 slate has bumped down one release slot.
In addition to Multiverse of Madness, this announcement will also affect Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and particularly The Marvels, which now has a 2023 release as opposed to a November 11, 2022 debut.
Consequently, Marvel's other 2023 films, including Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have shifted into new slots, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being the only exception in maintaining its May release.
In 2020, delays and altered release calendars became the norm for audiences and theaters alike; but due to the recent box office success of Shang-Chi and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, MCU fans were no longer anticipating delays or yet another new modified release schedule.
Still, this batch of new release dates from the blockbuster studio isn't more of the same or as alarming as it might appear.
Marvel's New Release Schedule Isn't What Fans Think
According to Deadline, Marvel Studios' newly adjusted release schedule isn't related to pandemic-related concerns about the market, nor is it due to a change in distribution as audiences witnessed with Black Widow's day-and-date release earlier in the year.
Instead, Marvel Studios' newly reworked calendar is a ripple effect attributed to the MCU's various productions and creators.
After the literal drought of content in 2020, Marvel Studios roared back in 2021, having aired four Disney+ series to date with Hawkeye set to debut in November, as well as two theatrical films with Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home releasing before the end of the year.
In fact, rumors of it airing later in 2022 than originally anticipated hit the interwebs only hours before this Marvel Studios' rescheduling bombshell.
In regards to Marvel's multiple productions, Deadline also noted that the new calendar is simply Disney's solution while also pointing out that most MCU titles are only shifting down one slot.
Was Time the Reason for Marvel's New Calendar?
While the pandemic led to substantial delays and multiple release schedules, the fact that this decision is related to time as opposed to market uncertainty is, in a way, good news. At the moment, it appears that the days of studios withholding films for a year or more is a thing of the past.
Also, in reality, more time for directors and production will likely contribute to better films and perhaps a more cohesive Phase 4 of the MCU. Still, the fact that Marvel Studios needs this time is somewhat surprising.
Even before the pandemic, Marvel was accustomed to churning out multiple films per year. Is it possible that its ambitious Disney+ schedule had a negative effect on the side of film production? And, if not in resources, then perhaps in storytelling?
In addition, this production-related reshifting may also be due to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the uncertainty surrounding a potential strike.
Another possibility is Matt Reeves' The Batman, whose trailer generated considerable buzz at 2021's DC FanDome. Since Multiverse of Madness' original release was only a few weeks after this DC film, perhaps Disney felt it was smart to distance the two projects even more for a better box office return.
Finally, Disney+ Day on November 12 is when fans are expecting to hear more about Marvel and Lucasfilm's upcoming shows for the streaming service, as well as their upcoming films.
Disney+ has only become more important to Disney's bottom line since its debut in 2019. Since Shang-Chi and Eternals only have a 45-day theatrical window before streaming on Disney+, maybe the shifting of Marvel's upcoming slate was to better serve the Mouse house's streaming service interests and investments.
Regardless of why more time was needed for Marvel Studios' 2022 and 2023 films, hopefully, this move will better serve the MCU and give fans even more to be excited about.