Disney has a new CEO now that Bob Iger has stepped down earlier than anticipated – so what does this change mean for the future of Marvel? Disney has become a powerhouse in the last decade thanks to its big acquisitions and movie franchises that have been dominating the entertainment industry; and with the recent launch of its own streaming service, Disney+, the Mouse House’s influence has only increased. Now, the company is going through some major changes after Bob Iger stepped down as CEO effective immediately.
Iger will remain on board as executive chairman through to the end of 2021, when his contract expires. Disney’s new CEO is Bob Chapek, who has served as Disney Parks’ Chairman since 2018 and was previously the head of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, president of Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios, and president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. During his tenure, Disney Parks saw its largest investment and expansion, including the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Chapek will continue to report to Iger.
While Iger’s presence as executive chairman will help transition Chapek into his new role, Disney will still go through an adjustment period, which will be interesting to see as the company owns some of the biggest franchises and titles in the film industry thanks to the many acquisitions during Iger’s time as CEO. Among those is Marvel Studios, one of the biggest franchises in Disney’s power and one that is in constant expansion. So, will Disney having a new CEO affect Marvel’s future?
Bob Iger replaced Michael Eisner as Disney’s CEO in 2005, becoming the sixth CEO in the company’s history. It didn’t take long for him to make some major changes within the company, and one of his first moves was reassigning Disney’s chief strategic officer Peter Murphy and disband the company’s Strategic Planning division. In early 2006, Disney acquired Pixar for $7.4 billion, and in that same year, Iger re-acquired the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (Walt Disney’s first star and Mickey Mouse’s predecessor) from NBCUniversal.
In 2009, Iger led negotiations for Disney to acquire Marvel Entertainment and its associated assets. The following year, the studio bought the distribution rights for The Avengers and Iron Man 3 from Paramount Pictures, and has been distributing all Marvel Studios movies ever since. In 2013, it purchased the distribution rights to Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger also from Paramount, bringing all Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes to Disney (except the Hulk, who has a complicated history). Two years later, Marvel Studios was placed into Walt Disney Studios.
The success of the MCU is, in big part, thanks to being under Disney’s wing, making it one of the most successful and profitable franchises, and one that is now expanding to other media, namely streaming through Disney+. Iger also oversaw the launch of Disney+ in November 2019, which is why he resigned from Apple’s board of directors to avoid creating a conflict of interest as Apple TV+ also launched in November. Iger’s decisions and negotiations were the basis of Marvel’s success, meaning that the MCU has a lot to thank Iger for.
Although Iger’s announcement came as a surprise to many, it’s a decision he had been delaying for years. His contract was originally planned to run until 2018, but it was extended one more year, and later through 2021. One of his final major moves was the Disney/Fox merge, finalized in March 2019. The following month, Iger said he would depart from his position as CEO and chairman of Disney when his contract expired in 2021. His departure way before than originally planned might seem like a sudden decision, but it’s one he had been teasing for a while, and Disney (and Marvel, in the process) was surely ready for it.
Case in point: Marvel Studios already has its future planned. Its first three phases, collectively known as “the Infinity Saga”, came to an end in 2019 with Spider-Man: Far From Home, but the MCU is already preparing for a new wave of films. Wasting no time, 2020 will see the arrival of Black Widow and Eternals, followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a third Spider-Man: Homecoming movie, and Thor: Love and Thunder in 2021. In addition to that, Black Panther II, Captain Marvel 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are in development.
This new era in the MCU also includes TV shows exclusive to Disney+, which unlike the ones brought by Netflix, will truly connect to the movies. Firsts in line are The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, followed by Loki, What If…?, and Hawkeye in 2021. Marvel has other projects in development to be released on Disney+, such as Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk. Out of all these titles, the ones confirmed to directly tie into the movie side of the MCU are WandaVision and Loki, both connecting with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Marvel Studios has its future – at least until 2022 – all planned, and will continue expanding no matter what.
Through his position as executive chairman, Iger will continue overseeing the creative output from the company, so in that sense, Marvel fans can rest assured that things will go on as planned with the MCU. The way Marvel has been operating since it became part of Disney has worked perfectly, and it’s unlikely Chapek will make some major changes to it, especially to everything that’s already planned and in development. Once Iger is completely done with Disney in 2021 and with Chapek and the company adjusting to that, it’s possible there will be changes, but nothing too major or that would represent a big shake-up to the MCU and its planned projects.
Bob Iger played a key role in the success of Marvel Studios in the last decade, and the MCU wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for him, but Marvel fans have nothing to worry about now that Bob Chapek is in charge. If anything, the MCU could see some changes that won’t affect the content and will be mostly for business reasons to ensure its success for a couple more years.
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