Could the Coronavirus Pandemic Delays Affect the MCU's Timeline?

Hollywood is in the midst of an unprecedented situation. Like many industries across the world, virtually all physical production has ground to a halt, causing all studios to delayed every movie from MGM's No Time to Die to Universal's F9 and Marvel Studios' Black Widow, the latter of which proves just how unique of a situation this pandemic has caused. Even the world's most prosperous studio has slowed to a crawl, something that's resulted in extensive furloughs across the company. All things considered, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a pretty small droplet in the pool of stuff we should be caring about at this particular point in time — but we've got to talk about the inevitable. At what point will these delays interfere with the intricately woven timeline the fandom has come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Despite all movies from Marvel Studios already being pushed back once already, one has to think if the first round of delays will be enough. Currently, Black Widow is scheduled to hit theaters in November while The Eternals fly into theaters next February...but The Eternals just hardly wrapped principal photography when quarantine orders started coming in. Then you have other Marvel productions — in this instance, Destin Daniel Cretton's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — that barely launched production before being forced to temporarily shut down.

That's not even taking into account the shows Marvel Studios has been producing for Disney+. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki had all been in production when shutdown orders came across with at least two of those series being very close to complete. Therein lies the potential interruptions in the timeline of the MCU.

Even before the pandemic swept the world, Disney was scrambling to get content on its fresh new streaming platform. Former Disney CEO Bob Iger even stepped down from his post to put his focus on the creative output of the company and sooner or later, Disney's direct-to-consumer team is going to want to content they've ordered

Not even 24 hours ago, Universal Studios announced it would be shuttering its park closures through the end of May and now, one has to suspect a similar decision from Disney might be handed down sooner rather than later. Though it's not a completely solid indicator, it stands to reason most productions will be on hold while the parks remain closed meaning should Disney follow suit, it'd be fair to say Shang-Chi wouldn't begin filming again until the early parts of June. That'd give the production 11 months, give or take, to finish principal photography, re-shoots, and post-production — all a pretty tall order.

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Should Marvel Studios decide it needs another round of delays on the movie side, at what point does Disney+ decide it needs to get the Marvel Studios shows out the door? Admittedly, that's all assuming the Disney+ content teams have that kind of pull in this situation; after all, they'd be going up against Disney's biggest franchise. That said, there's now a distinct possibility fans will end up getting zero Marvel Studios this year should delays extend much further.

Earlier in the week, reports circulated Disney+ subscriber numbers are much higher than the company anticipated by this point in time, but that can't last forever. Subscribers are going to eventually need new content, storytelling timelines be damned.