Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters looking unhappy in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

The Real Problem With Marvel TV Shows Is That Marvel Undervalues TV Workers

New insight into what Marvel’s troubled TV productions look like suggests that its biggest problem is not valuing the creativity and talent of TV workers enough. Marvel has been partnering with Disney+ to revamp its TV division and has released 10 original Marvel Cinematic Universe series so far. Its TV ambitions started strong with WandaVision, a nuanced story of grief and loss set within a unique reality-bending premise that paid homage to past sitcoms.

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Since then, Marvel has delivered two more solid successes in Loki and Moon Knight. However, mixed reviews of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Secret Invasion, as well as the latter’s poor viewership, show that there are some problems. Even Marvel’s most well-rated show on Rotten Tomatoes, Ms. Marvel, struggled with viewership numbers. While these shows are mostly entertaining and enjoyable, many struggle with pacing, plot holes, and anti-climatic conclusions. It’s also clear that several of the series don’t have a real purpose outside of setting up future MCU films.

Considering its cinematic success, vast resources, and rich source material, Marvel’s TV stumbles may seem perplexing. Giving viewers’ favorite heroes more expansive and in-depth stories on TV sounded like a recipe for success. However, it seems Marvel’s problem comes down to how it runs its productions and the failure to recognize the value of television workers.

Marvel needs TV people to do TV work

Charlie Cox as Daredevil in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

The Hollywood Reporter has painted a troubling portrait of what is happening behind the scenes on Marvel TV shows, including Daredevil: Born Again. The Daredevil reboot is one of Marvel’s most highly anticipated shows, but production has quietly been in turmoil, with Marvel letting its head writers and directors go and searching for new creative leads to fill those roles. This is quite shocking as the show’s production was already underway before the SAG-AFTRA strike brought it to a halt. However, what the series had filmed so far was seemingly so bad that it forced Marvel to reconsider its whole process.

The rather obvious issue is that Marvel isn’t hiring television workers to work on its television shows. It’s hiring film executives who are trying to make these shows like they make films, complete with $150 million budgets and the strategy of waiting for post-production to fix problems. Additionally, in favoring its film executives, Marvel has stifled the voices and creativity of its TV workers, especially its writers. As one insider told THR, Marvel is missing the point that “TV is a writer-driven medium.”

Moon Knight, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and Secret Invasion followed a disturbing trend of firing, sidelining, or driving out experienced television writers and having a filmmaker or Marvel executive take over production. According to the report, these productions were rife with tension and creative differences, which isn’t surprising if Marvel executives are crashing the sets and not letting TV workers do their work.

Marvel is reportedly fixing this issue, indicating it will start hiring showrunners and keep its cinematic and TV realms more separate. The studio also wants to do away with developing miniseries as movie tie-ins, and start exploring multi-season series that really delve into their characters. While these changes sound promising, it’s questionable that it took the studio this long to recognize that those with experience in TV would probably be valuable to have working on a TV show, or that the creators and writers behind these shows could benefit production.

Marvel is fortunate that its shortcomings haven’t had more pronounced consequences for its success. However, THR‘s report shows a troubling hubris on the studio’s part in which it believes its “Marvel-trained” executives are superior to those who actually possess true passion and knowledge in the TV industry. It also shows a detrimental reluctance to change, or to give creatives outside its internal workforce a chance. If Marvel truly wants to make a change, it will need to do more than merely hire TV people. It’s clear that Marvel’s execs have a lot to learn—will they listen?

(via THR, featured image: Disney+)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.