How Marvel's TV Side Has Started Scaling Back Due To Coronavirus Shutdowns

Marvel Studios logo

Hollywood is still feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with many productions having shut down and delayed across the industry. In addition, entertainment corporations are now being forced to furlough or completely cut ties with employees to make up for the loss of revenue. Disney hasn’t been immune to this, as the House of Mouse has furloughed thousands of workers. Now, the Marvel Studios branch of the company is making some cutbacks in its TV division.

In an attempt to scale down, Marvel has ended its overall deals with television showrunners Steve Lightfoot and Paul Zbyszewski. Per The Hollywood Reporter, these agreements are believed to be only the first of several that will be “force majeured” in the wake of this industry shutdown.

The trade also stresses that both Steve Lightfoot and Paul Zbyszewski’s contracts were solely with Marvel and not Disney’s ABC Studios. As of right now, Marvel has not commented on the matter.

Steve Lightfoot’s worth with Marvel started through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, in 2016, he was tapped as showrunner and executive producer of Netflix’s The Punisher. He would continue his duties into the show’s second season before it was officially canceled by the streamer last year.

Paul Zbyszewski’s joined the company last year as the executive producer and showrunner of the forthcoming Helstrom, which is still set to premiere on Hulu sometime this year. Unlike many of its fellow Marvel productions, the show wasn’t heavily affected by the recent pandemic.

With Marvel seeking to trim down its staff, it’s not surprising that Lightfoot and Zbyszewski would be some of the first to be let go. Following the consolidation of Marvel’s film and TV divisions, almost all projects not related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe were canned. Helstrom was the sole survivor but, with Zbyszewski now out, the series’ chances of surviving past its first season appear slim.

As these are only the first economic moves Marvel will be making, one has to wonder what about the additional changes that could be made. MCU series now make up just about all of Marvel’s live-action TV projects, and it’s unlikely Marvel will let go of those staff members, unless it really has to. But there’s still the matter of the animated series that are currently on the air or are on the way.

Helstrom will be joined by the animated projects M.O.D.O.K. and Hit-Monkey when it arrives on Hulu. However, given what’s happened, there’s a chance those shows could lose their showrunners before they debut as well.

Letting go of Steve Lightfoot and Paul Zbyszewski may not have been Marvel’s first choice, but it was, admittedly, the economic option given the circumstances. We’ll no doubt be watching closely to see what the company does next. And be sure to keep it here at CinemaBlend for more updates on the situation as they arrive.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.