Marvel has terminated two long-standing contracts with two writers.
Steve Lightfoot, who acted as showrunner on The Punisher, and Paul Zbyszewski, who has overseen the upcoming Hulu series Helstrom, have both had their overall deals terminated by the studio. The Hollywood Reporter cites that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to various studios tightening their belts.
The Punisher was cancelled after its two-season run on Netflix, while the live-action series Helstrom has not yet aired on the Disney-backed Hulu. Production on the series finished before the coronavirus outbreak, and Zbyszewski – whose history with the company dates back to the early days of Agents of Shield – will continue to oversee post-production.
Helstrom was originally commissioned by Jeph Loeb, the former head of Marvel Television, along with a Ghost Rider series, both of which were due to be released under a new MCU banner, Adventure Into Fear. However, Ghost Rider was cancelled, and Kevin Feige now oversees Marvel television.
The future of Marvel now looks set to be Disney Plus focussed. Runaways and Cloak & Dagger have both finished, while the next season of Agents of Shield will be the show's last. Of Loeb's time at Marvel, only two shows other than Helstrom remain in the works: the animated series MODOK and Hit Monkey.
While the news certainly shows Marvel are focussing on their Disney Plus series, it's not good news for the industry. Many lower profile writers are worried that their contracts may be likewise terminated at other studios due to the coronavirus, which has led to multiple productions being closed down and many entertainment workers being laid off. For a full list of everything delayed by the coronavirus, check out our extensive article here.