Marvel Ditches Kang and Hires New Movie Writers

In an article about Marvel’s “retooling” efforts in the wake of its recent failures, The Hollywood Reporter reveals some tidbits about the MCU’s upcoming films and TV shows. Some are things we already knew, some are not very informative (they think Agatha: Darkhold Diaries is great, which they also said about all of their big bombs), but there are some interesting new facts. For example, you know how they’re rewriting the Fantastic 4 script? That’s being done by the writer of Black Widow and Thor: Ragnarok, Eric Pearson, so I wouldn’t put much faith in a creative rejuvenation of that movie. Meanwhile, Bojack Horseman and The Bear writer Joanna Calo is taking a pass at the script for Thunderbolts. This is more promising, as while I’ve never seen either of those shows, I’ve heard good things about them. And this appears to be her first Marvel project, so maybe they’ll surprise everyone and leave her alone to write something good. (Yeah, I don’t think so either.)

But the biggest news – which is more of a confirmation than a revelation – is about Kang the Conqueror, the new big bad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The article says that Kang is being phased out and that the next two Avengers movies, in which he was to serve as the main antagonist, “will now either minimize the character or excise him entirely,” with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty being retitled. This dovetails with comments from November, when Joanna Robinson, co-author of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, said that the film’s previous writer, Jeff Loveness, was let go by Marvel because “he was all wrapped up in this Kang storyline, and they are likely going to be moving away from that.” An earlier Variety piece suggested Marvel was considering replacing Kang with Doctor Doom and quoted a “top dealmaker” as saying, “Marvel is truly fucked with the whole Kang angle… I don’t see a path to how they move forward with him.” This was before Kang actor Jonathan Majors was convicted of “reckless assault in the third degree and harassment” in December and was officially fired by Marvel, which, again, gels with THR’s sources telling them that Marvel wanted to get rid of Kang once Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (which Loveness also wrote) was a bomb.

This one isn’t as juicy as the Variety piece, mostly because it’s just reiterating things we learned then. While part of me is amazed they were able to figure out that they’d ruined any opportunity they had to make Kang a formidable villain, jettisoning him is common sense more than a bold strategy by creative geniuses. It’s a step in the right direction, but who is Marvel going to replace him with? There isn’t much time to properly establish the new threat like they did with Thanos or were trying to do with Kang, so unless they get some outstanding scripts for the next two Avengers movies, he’s going to feel like an understudy. And considering who they’re tapping in to rewrite the Fantastic 4 screenplay, I don’t see that happening. To be fair, new Thunderbolts scripter Joanna Calo is, at least based on her associations, a well-respected writer. But another part of the article talks about how they had Kyle Bradstreet, who’d written for Berlin Station (an actual spy series, and one that’s highly regarded by espionage fans) to executive produce Secret Invasion, only to push him away and let whatever idiots ruined that show take over. Are they going to do the same to Calo when she writes a good screenplay, and Marvel freaks out over the consistent characterizations and lack of jokes? There are some good signs in this piece, but they’re drowned out by bad decisions and Marvel’s recent history, which makes trusting them before seeing results a fool’s errand.

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