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Bob Iger Questions Marvel Sequels, Need to Bring Back Characters: ‘You’re Going to See a Lot of Newness’

The Disney CEO spoke about the future of the MCU at the Morgan Stanley’s 2023 Technology Media and Telecom Conference.

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME, from left: Zendaya, Tom Holland as Spider-Man, 2021. © Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Marvel Studios is never shy to bring back a fan-favorite character or give an old favorite a sequel. Over 24 years and 31 movies, the only characters that have been officially retired are a few tentpoles like Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). But according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the studio’s upcoming slate is all about going to be introducing fresh faces and less about bringing back old stalwarts.

During Disney’s Thursday presentation at Morgan Stanley’s 2023 Technology Media and Telecom Conference, Iger spoke about the future of Marvel at the company. During the next five years, Iger said Disney would reevaluate whether certain characters need sequels, or need to be brought back at all.

“Marvel — there were 7,000 characters, there are a lot more stories to tell,” he said. “What we have to look at at Marvel is not necessarily the volume of Marvel storytelling, but how many times we go back to the well on certain characters. Sequels typically work well for us. Do you need a third or a fourth, or is it time to turn to other characters? There’s nothing in any way inherently off in terms of the Marvel brand. I think we just have to look at what characters or stories we’re mining. And if you look at the trajectory of Marvel over the next five years, you’re going to see a lot of newness. We’re going to turn back to the Avengers franchise, but with a whole set of different Avengers.”

The “turn back” to the “Avengers” franchise is a reference to “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” and “Avengers: Secret Wars,” which will end Phase 6 in 2025 and 2026. Destin Daniel Cretton is slated to direct “Kang Dynasty,” while the “Secret Wars” director has yet to be announced.

Upcoming Marvel sequels include a third “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, “The Marvels,” “New World Order” starring Anthony Mackie as new Captain America Sam Wilson, and “Thunderbolts,” which will team villains and anti-heroes from past films. The only films completely starring new characters is “Fantastic Four,” which will introduce the titular team to the franchise, and “Blade” starring Mahershala Ali. That said, three unannounced films from Marvel Studios have been dated for July 25 and November 7, 2025, and February 13, 2026.

Iger also addressed another Disney tentpole, Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars,” during the call. The franchise has mostly been cosigned to Disney+ since 2019’s “The Rise of Skywalker” ended the sequel trilogy, and earlier this week it was reported that two in-development films — Patty Jenkins’ “Rogue Squadron” and an untitled project from Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige — have been shelved. Iger explained that Disney wanted to pause their release of films in the franchise after the commercial disappointment of spin-off film “Solo,” but that new films are still being made by Lucasfilm.

“‘Solo’ was a little disappointing to us. It gave us pause just to think maybe the cadence was a little too aggressive. So we decided to pull back a bit,” Iger said. “We still are developing ‘Star Wars’ films. We’re going to make sure that when we make one that it’s the right one, and so we’re being really careful there.”

Additional reporting by Brian Welk.

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