- Steven Yeun’s departure from the Marvel project is a setback for the studio, which has been facing struggles recently.
- Yeun’s casting in Thunderbolts was highly anticipated by fans, but his scheduling conflict led him to leave the project.
- Marvel has been facing challenges in Phases 4 and 5, with inconsistent TV shows and behind-the-scenes issues impacting their projects.
Steven Yeun bowed out from his supposed first Marvel role before the production started. Marvel fans were thrilled when they learned The Walking Dead actor would join the MCU. Marvel Studios never officially announced Yeun’s casting for the Thunderbolts. However, in a recent interview, he confirmed that he was supposed to be part of the movie when he talked about his departure from the project.
Steven Yeun’s departure from the upcoming Marvel project doesn’t bode well for the Studio, which has been having its share of struggles over the last year. With a worldwide pandemic and two significant Hollywood strikes piled on top of a collection of box office disappointments, the once venerated superhero studio is starting to show some cracks, and having a high-profile actor walk away from a project doesn’t do Marvel any favors.
Steven Yeun’s Thunderbolts exit explained
In February 2023, several outlets reported that Yeun would join Marvel’s Thunderbolts. He was reportedly cast as The Sentry, one of the great superheroes and anti-heroes in the franchise. The Sentry is a fascinating character due to the strength he possesses. He was once an ordinary man named Robert “Bob” Reynolds, who consumed a serum that granted him superpowers. His power can be likened to “the power of a million exploding suns.” However, there’s a twist behind his persona. In every good act he performs, Sentry’s dark side, called The Void, counteracts it with an evil deed, which makes him both a blessing and a curse.
There is no doubt that Yeun is perfect for the role of Sentry because he is a skilled and talented actor. He could easily pull the character’s dual personality — be a hero, then a supervillain in a split second. Unfortunately, fans cannot witness it because he just announced that he would no longer be part of the project. On Wednesday night, while celebrating the opening of the Louis Vuitton pop-up in West Hollywood, the 40-year-old American actor broke his silence about his involvement in Thunderbolts. It wasn’t what fans wanted to hear. He told Variety about his departure from the movie, citing last year’s SAG-AFTRA strike as among the reasons. Nevertheless, he was confident that director Jake Schreier would make a great film.
I think for me, time passing and things shifting kind of pulled me out of it. But Jake [Schreier], I know, is going to do an incredible job.
Yeun seemingly clarified that his departure was due to a scheduling conflict and nothing more because he clarified that he still wanted to do a Marvel movie. He was apologetic about his decision to back out of the project, even sharing what he did to make the producers know how sorry he was.
It took a lot of drafts on email to make sure that I conveyed the sincerity of how sorry I was to have to back out.
When asked what project he would like to do in the future, he declined to share because he believed his exit from the project would probably piss many and for fear that it might be jinxed. Apparently, he really wanted to do a superhero movie with Marvel. Yeun teased:
I have some ideas. But I heard if you put it out there, you’ll never get it, so I’ll keep it close to my chest.
Marvel never confirmed Yeun’s casting for Thunderbolts. However, showrunner Robert Kirkman, who collaborates with the actor on The Walking Dead and Prime’s animated superhero series Invincible, seemingly confirmed it. Kirkman said Yeun called him after a costume fitting for the movie and joked about playing another superhero donning a yellow and blue costume similar to his character’s outfit in Invincible.
During a D23 presentation, Marvel Studios revealed that Florence Pugh, Sebastian Stan, David Harbour, Wyatt Russell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus would star in Thunderbolts. The film paused production in May due to the WGA strike. They haven’t started filming yet after the Hollywood strikes and there’s no official date as to when production will begin.
Thunderbolts will be released on July 25, 2025.
Losing Steven Yeun is another bad sign for Marvel
Yeun is a great actor and the reports about him being involved in Thunderbolts built up additional excitement to the project. Several fans took to social media and expressed excitement about seeing Yeun in his Sentry suit. However, since it’s no longer happening, some people have also lost interest in the project. Clearly, Yeun’s departure from the film affected its appeal to some audience members.
One said that after Yeun left, the project became “incredibly boring” again. The user suggested that no other actor could pull the movie besides Harrison Ford, who is rumored to play General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, aka Red Hulk. Ford will reportedly replace the late actor, William Hurt, for the role. However, when asked in an interview with ComicBook.com about the Red Hulk, when he promoted Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, he appeared confused and surprised, even asking, “What is the Red Hulk.” But some fans speculated that he was only playing dumb for the press with his reaction.
Losing Yeun is a point against Marvel because his addition to the cast can potentially attract more viewers, which the studio needs. Its latest superhero flick, The Marvels, featuring Carol Danvers, Mala Khan, and Monica Rambeau, didn’t do well at the box office. The trio seemingly had a hard time finding an audience and even made history as the lowest-grossing Marvel movie.
Marvel’s Phase 4 and 5 struggles
Marvel Studios seemingly struggles with Phases 4 and 5, and the confusion is evident in their projects. The MCU TV shows had inconsistent tones and pacing, leading to disjointed stories that even fans following them, sometimes find themselves at a loss. This is most evident in its TV shows like Samuel L. Jackon’s Secret Invasion featuring Nick Fury and Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel.
There’s definitely a major shakeup in Marvel Studios. Its MCU series never had official showrunners, whose job was to ensure that the series flowed cohesively and the story was consistent. Marvel is already working on addressing this problem by hiring dedicated showrunners for its future TV series. The first TV show to see this change is Daredevil: Born Again, which is currently in production. Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio reprise their roles as Daredevil and Kingpin, respectively, in the reboot. Cox previously said he thought his co-star was “delusional” for still holding onto the franchise after it abruptly ended in 2018. It took two years before they were approached for the new project.
The behind-the-scenes issues also contributed to Marvel’s difficulty with its projects. For instance, Scott Derrickson, who directed Doctor Strange in 2016, was set to return to helm the sequel but quit when Marvel Studios decided to take the storyline in a different direction. Sam Raimi took over the directorial chair.
The most recent challenge for Marvel is Jonathan Major’s legal battle. He was set to star in Avengers 5 as Kang the Conqueror, but the studio dropped him after being convicted of misdemeanor assault and harassment in his legal dispute with his ex-girlfriend Grace Jabbari. There are rumors that Colman Domingo will replace him as Kang, and a fan seemingly approved of it, even designing fan art of Colman rocking Kang’s costume.
Marvel is working on improving its projects. Fans should watch out for its upcoming TV shows and movies to see if they will perform better and if the studio will successfully get through this disastrous phase.
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