MarvelBlog News for January 14th, 2024
What has happened in the MCU this week?
Echo just debuted, Marvel finalized plans for its 2024 filming schedule, and we probably know who the Fantastic Four are.
The seventeenth time is the charm for MarvelBlog News!
Echo Debuts on Streaming
For the second time in three weeks, Marvel has released a new series on streaming.
I’ll start recapping the episodes of What If…? and Echo soon, but I’ll confess that I’ve only watched five out of 14 episodes.
The holiday crunch has left me a bit behind with my content consumption. However, I’m apparently the only one.
I say this because Deadline has posted a flattering article regarding the reception of Echo.
According to this “exclusive” report, Echo has debuted as the most popular series on Disney+ and Hulu alike.
In fact, that’s an integral part of this story. With its release, Echo has become the first MCU series featuring mature content.
Well, that conversation gets a bit muddy, as Marvel recently added the Netflix shows to the official MCU timeline.
So, we’ve got asterisks within asterisks anytime we discuss any of this stuff.
From Disney’s perspective, Echo represents the start of a new programming area, one with more violence.
We won’t experience that strategy with most Marvel content, but some street-level characters will get bloody.
I’m not speaking theoretically now. During the first episode of Echo, people died…and in decidedly violent ways.
Those who watched the Netflix versions of some of these characters are used to it, but it’s new for Disney+ viewers.
Not coincidentally, Disney has released Echo on Hulu in case it proves a bit too divisive for Disney+.
Echo’s Critical Reception
As of right now, that move appears unnecessary, though. Based on the early data, Marvel has a hit on its hand.
I should add a couple of caveats, though. The first involves the distribution method.
Historically, literally every Marvel series streaming on Disney+ had released weekly episodes.
Marvel chose to burn off the entire Echo series in a single day. So, some people (not me) have already watched all five episodes.
Due to this strategy, the series should perform better during its first week. The bigger question is whether it demonstrates staying power.
Importantly, Echo’s reviews are better than expected, although I’d still describe them as mixed.
You may have seen a few misleading clickbait headlines that suggested a nightmare performance.
Those aren’t based in fact. If you clicked any of them, you learned that Echo is the second-worst reviewed MCU series to date.
That sounds terrible until you look at the numbers and realize how much better Echo has done than Secret Invasion, the worst-reviewed title.
As I type this, Echo is currently 72 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and holds a Metacritic score of 62.
These aren’t outstanding numbers by any stretch, but in the wake of Secret Invasion’s 53 percent, Marvel will happily take the Fresh rating.
During one of the next two weeks, we’ll also find out whether What If…? season two earned a spot on the Nielsen streaming charts.
I expect that to happen, but the unusual release strategy – one new episode a day for nine straight days – was a calculated risk.
The Final Fantastic Four Casting Update (I Hope)
As I mentioned last week, Marvel and other film studios are currently aligning their 2024 filming schedules.
I’m not talking about release dates for finished products. I’m referencing the principal photography phase of the movies.
Obviously, this scheduling process has wreaked havoc with many plans, including some of Marvel’s.
We just detailed why Steven Yeun dropped out of the Thunderbolts project, where he would have played the Big Bad.
Now, Marvel is catching some breaks. Specifically, the MCU’s choice for Reed Richards, Pedro Pascal, just cleared his schedule.
Pascal has bailed from a horror film named Weapons so that he can film Fantastic Four during the second half of the year.
If you’re paying attention, part of that statement may have surprised you.
Yes, Fantastic Four has apparently pushed its principal photography back a few months.
Again, that’s due to all the scheduling hiccups occurring throughout Hollywood.
However, insiders feel quite confident that Marvel has settled on the cast for Fantastic Four.
In addition to Pascal, Vanessa Kirby will play Sue Richards, the matriarch of the First Family.
Meanwhile, an actor we previously discussed, Joseph Quinn, will portray Sue’s younger brother, Johnny Storm.
Finally, Ebon Moss-Bachrach will voice The Thing. I have no idea whether this character will be CGI or a dude in a bodysuit, though.
Some earlier reports had suggested that the co-star of The Bear would play an antagonist instead.
So, I’m still putting this one in air quotes for the time being.
Despite this fact, the plans appear finalized for the Fantastic Four’s first MCU movie to start filming in 2024.
Speaking of production plans, Wonder Man may have started filming again by the time you read this. It’ll happen any day now.
Similarly, Thunderbolts and Captain America: Brave New World are ready to return to principal photography.
Currently, there’s no reason to expect additional delays with either of these projects.
However, you may have put two and two together on Fantastic Four. That film’s current release date is May 2nd, 2025.
That date seems…ambitious for a title filming during the second half of the year, especially if The Thing is entirely CGI.
Keep reading MarvelBlog to learn all the details about filming and the adjusted MCU release schedule.
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