San Diego Comic-Con is known as a pop-culture mecca, thanks in major part to the lineup at “Hall H”: the corner of the convention center that’s often host to panels from the likes of HBO, DC, Star Trek, and Netflix. Over the last decade or so, no company’s Hall H panel has commanded as much attention as Marvel’s — but this year, the MCU stars won’t be there. While Marvel will still have a booth on the convention center floor, circumstances beyond even Kevin Feige’s power are in play.
Marvel Studios bowing out of SDCC isn’t an out-of-the-blue decision; there were rumors that the company would be skipping the con as far back as June. And while Marvel’s parent company Disney didn’t give any specific reasons for skipping the show, there are a few relevant ones that aren’t hard to guess.
Marvel’s panel is often a who’s-who of guests, cameos, and presenters. The downside is that those presenters are often actors or writers — two groups that are both striking against studios at the moment, and therefore will not be attending the show. The writers strike began in May, when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to reach an agreement for a new contract. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) strike started in July when it too could not agree on a new contract with the AMPTP. There’s been no significant movement toward either strike ending yet, which could mean they both last for several more months.
The strike creates more complications for Marvel than just a lack of hype beaming out of SDCC. With no end in sight to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA negotiations, the previously announced release dates for upcoming films and phases are completely up in the air. Even if Feige wanted to take the stage at SDCC and prepare fans for what’s to come, it would be nearly impossible to announce things like new movies or cast members.
On top of all that, Marvel probably doesn’t have much to announce at the moment. At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con the studio released its plans for both phases 5 and 6, and due to writers strike delays, those plans won’t come to fruition until Avengers: Secret Wars arrives in 2027. Meanwhile, movies like Blade and Deadpool 3, which were either already filming or about to start, will likely get pushed back during the strikes. All this should make for a quieter year or two from Marvel on the announcements front.
With all these reasons in mind, it’s not too shocking that Marvel chose to skip SDCC this year. In fact, Disney was far from the only studio to make that choice this time around, with studios like Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, and DC all skipping big panels as well.
Just because the MCU won’t be at Comic-Con doesn’t mean that Marvel won’t have a presence at all. Alongside its large booth on the show floor, Marvel will also be hosting a number of comics panels including looks back at classic characters and story lines, live versions of some of its Marvel weekly podcasts, two retrospectives with current and former editors-in-chief, and its traditional Next Big Thing panel which focuses on upcoming comics. The company will also have a big panel for the upcoming Insomniac game, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.