A new report suggests that Marvel Television is soon to be wound down. In June 2010, Marvel Entertainment announced the launch of a new division, Marvel Television, in order to capitalize on the fresh opportunities offered by the Disney purchase.
Marvel Television has had something of a bumpy ride, with the various TV shows becoming increasingly separated from the movies after a corporate restructure in 2015. They've had some hits, including Marvel's flagship TV show, Agents of SHIELD, and Marvel Netflix shows like Daredevil and The Punisher. But there have also been a number of notable misses, including an ill-fated Inhumans series and Iron Fist. The last week has seen Hulu pull the plug on another Marvel TV series, Ghost Rider, which was to star Gabriel Luna as the Spirit of Vengeance.
According to Variety, Marvel's live-action TV productions are being moved from Marvel Television to Marvel Studios. The problem is that they simply don't compare to the MCU TV series being developed by Marvel Studios for the Disney+ streaming service. "Feige’s shows are so far beyond anything Marvel TV has been able to do," one TV lit agent observed. "He has access to all of these MCU characters that the other Marvel live-action stuff just doesn’t, not to mention way bigger budgets."
There's a sense in which this seems inevitable. Marvel Television has always felt subordinate to the movies, with tie-ins and connections only ever going the one way. Whether by accident or design, the MCU had slipped into a sort of "tiered" approach to canon, with the movies at the top and the TV shows on a lower tier, canon to the extent they don't contradict the movies. The gap has been widening in recent years, with Marvel Television struggling to work out what to do with their series in the wake of cosmic, world-changing events in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Even Agents of SHIELD, traditionally the most well-connected of Marvel Television's products, might as well be existing in another timeline now.
Meanwhile, it's always been clear that Marvel Television has operated on something of a shoestring budget. Inhumans failed in part because it was visibly low-budget, and there's speculation Marvel Studios could relaunch the franchise. Iron Fist's brief glimpses of the dragon, Shou-Lao, were generally mocked. Disney CEO Bob Iger is well-known for insisting that his company should only be producing quality product, and not every Marvel Television show has had the budget to do that. In contrast, the Marvel Studios Disney+ series are all expected to have studio-level budgets. The quality difference, it seems, is simply too high.
This doesn't necessarily mean the end of Marvel Television, of course. The company appear to be moving towards animation, with the announcement of an animated "Offenders" franchise that includes unusual, unexpected characters like Tigra, MODOK, Hit-Monkey, and Howard the Duck. But if Variety's report is correct, Marvel Television will soon be dropping out of the live-action game altogether.