Will Dr. Doom replace Kang the Conqueror in Marvel's next phase?

A new article in Variety magazine (link here) details the issues plaguing Marvel Studios. The most important seems to be the fact that several storylines, including the TV show "Loki" and the movie Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, have been leading up to the character Kang the Conqueror to be a multiverse villain of the entire franchise across many interlocking properties. He's apparently set up to be the star of a fifth Avengers movie.

But the character who plays him, Jonathan Majors, has been charged with domestic violence, with more alleged victims coming forward and cooperating with the DA's office, and a high-profile trial in New York later this month.

Of course they could just re-cast the character, which would require no explanation. But another possibility being considered is to somehow replace the character's place in the franchise with another Marvel villain, Dr. Doom, who has traditionally been the main adversary of the Fantastic Four. That would seem to seem require some elaborate re-plotting and retconning that would further burden the already complicated interwoven MCU storyline.

Among Marvel's other woes:

• The next movie slated, "Marvels," cost $250 million but has been plagued with delays and re-shoots.

In June, Marvel, which traditionally only solicits feedback from Disney employees and their friends and families, took the uncharacteristic step of holding a public test screening in Texas. The audience gave the film middling reviews.   

• Another movie that had been slated for 2023, Marvel's vampire movie Blade, is so beset with problems it hasn't even started production yet.

[T]he project has gone through at least five writers, two directors and one shutdown six weeks before production. One person familiar with the script permutations says the story at one point morphed into a narrative led by women and filled with life lessons. Blade was relegated to the fourth lead, a bizarre idea considering that the studio had two-time Oscar winner [Mahershala] Ali on board.  

• Post-production special effects have been so taxed by changing schedules and rushed deadlines that Marvel VFX (visual effects) workers voted unanimously to unionized in September.

The VFX logjam had been evident for some time, with some final effects for such Disney+ series as "WandaVision" and "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" inserted after their streaming debuts.

… Marvel was bleeding money, with a single episode of "She-Hulk" costing some $25 million, dwarfing the budget of a final-season episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones, " but without a similar Zeitgeist bang. The August 2022 series premiere at the El Capitan Theatre foreshadowed what was to come six months later at the "Quantumania" bow: the "She-Hulk" special effects were out of focus in multiple scenes.

• Oversaturation and mediocre product has tested audience interest in Marvel.

There are signs that the flood of product is leading people to tune out. "I'm not prepared to call it a permanent fall. But based on the numbers that go with Marvel podcasts, Marvel-based articles, friends who do Marvel-based video coverage, all of these numbers are significantly down," says Joanna Robinson, co-author of the New York Times bestseller "MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios," who is a writer and podcaster at The Ringer. "The quality is suffering. In 2019, at the peak, if you put 'Marvel Studios' in front of something, people were like, 'Oh, that brand means quality.' That association is no longer the case because there have been so many projects that felt half-baked and undercooked." 

• And the one Marvel success of 2023, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, was directed by Guardians auteur James Gunn, who is now running Marvel's competitor DC Studios.