The pandemic changed a lot. Some of it for good (a recognition of frontline workers, a renewed knowledge of the importance of interpersonal connection and touch), and most of it for worse (the everything else). But it didn't just change your life; it also changed the lives of fictional characters. Pams and Jims and Buffys and Chidis and Starks, all were affected by the pandemic, and since none of those effects involve the words "millions dead," we're gonna talk about some of them ... 

The Marvel Multiverse

From the beginning, the MCU has been changing, altering, in flux. Terrence Howard and Ed Norton used to be in it, for Chrissake. But recently, well, let's just say alternate timelines makes a lot of sense given how different everything was supposed to be. 

The original end of WandaVision was to have the hypnotized, controlled denizens of Wanda's created town swarm and attack her like zombies. However, they couldn't get close due to distancing guidelines, so they just ... guilt her instead? Monica Rambeau's plot was going to be longer and potentially have her visiting a psychiatrist, and the last few episodes underwent a few cuts, including an entire chase scene, with a demonic rabbit

rabbit WandaVision

Walt Disney Pictures

Okay, that settles it. The COVID pandemic was, on balance, bad. 

Of course, that's not the biggest change a female character has gotten. Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine was set to make her first appearance in the post-credit scene of Black Widow, but due to delays to Black Widow, her larger and more intricate role in Falcon and the Winter Soldier came about first. This is also the first time a Marvel character originated in a TV show before appearing in an MCU movie (unless you count Human Jarvis, which no one does because they don't know who he is). 

Countess Fontaine is rumored to be the Dark Avengers version of Nick Fury, too, setting up the next big Avengers film. Thus, her appearing in Lethal Weapon: Super Soldiers Edition is a pretty big change to the MCU, given that until then, the only MCU character who had made the television/movie crossover was a chauffeur in terrible make-up.

Jarvis Avengers Endgame

Walt Disney Pictures

That's who he is! (Hint: the one on the left)

All of their films were rescheduled, with Shang Chi being shut down altogether. Normally, the order of films being released by a production company doesn't matter, but when you're as interconnected as the MCU series, moving one film in front of the other can create massive changes – like, for instance, having a massive character's first appearance spoiled or starting your new phase off with the creation of a new multiverse. 

Shang-Chi's release date was changed three times and is now the second film of the new phase instead of the third, which may change nothing, except for the fact that Falcon and Winter Soldier arguably had an incredibly negative impact on Black Widow … so who knows.

But it wasn't just shuffles and changes; some stuff got cut altogether. Originally, Falcon and the Winter Soldier was planned to be much longer, eight episodes instead of the six episodes we ended up getting. According to rumors (so grain of salt), the plot was also quite different, inspired by an idea originally meant for Captain America 3. Before RDJ signed on for Civil Warthe writers landed on the Madbomb storyline: a bomb that would infect the population and zombify them, basically, turn them into 28 Days Later-esque rage zombies Captain America would have to deal with. 

That idea was supposedly brought back for Falcon and the Winter Soldier, with the original plot dealing heavily with some form of contagious weapon, presumably used by the Flag Smashers (or potentially even Zemo), maybe even during the climax. But in February of 2020, the plot was allegedly rewritten.

The Suicide Squad

Warner Bros Pictures

And yet The Suicide Squad stuck with their story where you need to wear a mask.

Granted, Disney, Malcolm Spellman (the creator of the show), and actors deny this. However, there's a fairly good theory outlining the fact that the original plot involved the Flag Smashers, not as villains creating a plague, but as heroes attempting to get vaccines to people in low populated areas, including to refugees (a plotline that is still featured, sans plague). There's even some clumsy ADR that hints towards this, but again, Disney denies it. Is it all just hearsay and overactive fans theorizing? Well ... the production company for Falcon and the Winter Soldier was called Pandemic Productions, LLC. So ...

And beyond all of that, if it weren't for the pandemic, then Black Widow would've been released in theaters, and the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit wouldn't be happening right now, a lawsuit practically guaranteeing Natasha is gone from the MCU for sure.

[Newsletter]

Superstore Kept America Ferrera, Masks, Canceled A Rave

Superstore is a show about frontline workers, real heroes, big box, Walmart-type workers in St Louis, Missouri. They were about to write off America Ferrara's character, one of the show's main romantic leads, when COVID hit, causing her big finale to get shunted to the next season. And then COVID continued ... and the show realized it had to change quite a bit. It's a show about frontline workers; ignoring COVID would be like us ignoring a chance to dunk on Rise of Skywalker. 

Just like that non-sequitur that you keep thinking will be over but keeps going, the pandemic lingered on. Superstore adjusted by adding it into the plot -- again, frontline workers in Missouri.

Superstore

NBC

And it made dubbing in lines afterward so much easier. 

Masks were to be worn by the characters whenever in the front-facing parts of the store but taken off for meetings in the back and other social hangouts, which, hey, also matches real life (even if it shouldn't). The big America Ferrera exit that was planned for season five had to be moved to season six as the show's end was cut off by the Pandemic, which meant that not only did the beginning of the show have to navigate her ending without the big rave scene they had planned but had to do it during the pandemic and as the second episode of their last season. 

Granted, at least Superstore doing this proved something. Superstore was one of the first shows back on the air during the pandemic, and the creators even said they felt the show was a bit of a guinea pig. At least they did something right, as shortly after Superstore proved safe, other shows started going back into production, including 18 unnamed Star Wars shows.

Superstore

NBC

Otherwise, actors would surely still be filming themselves on Zoom to this day. 

Superstore though? Oh, well, just like 2020, it's a thing of the past. The show's final acclaimed season was marked by the departure of an actor around since the beginning, the beginning of a pandemic, and masks cutting off all emotional expression from being conveyed. The pandemic era showed that you can sometimes be successful enough to get canceled.

Charmed Wrote It Into Their Plot

Even though it is no longer 1999, there's still a show about a trio of witches living together and making trouble on the air. Yes, for those who missed out, Charmed was revived, and unlike every other reboot that's come about recently, it managed to stick. The Charmed sisters all live in a big house together, do magic, and copy Buffy in a slightly more woke way. Some episodes are about sirens. Some are about big fish. Some are about how all of them are cursed to maintain a six-foot distance by magic.

Yes, there's an episode about how the lockdown is magic, and no, it was not written primarily as a political take.

Charmed

CW

Probably not?

The issue is that the CW audience has the attention span of toddlers, so you need to keep filming episodes, even during one of recent history's largest catastrophes. If you don't see the Flash run every Wednesday, how will you remember he exists? But what can you do when you don't have the budget for plexiglass, and also your writers have terminal burnout? You simply write the lockdown into the plot but call it a magic force keeping them apart. Whenever the sisters get close to each other (or to other magical creatures), there are zaps of painful electricity, part of their sacrifice to keep magic safe. So that part kinda makes sense, at least.

A Bunch Of Stuff Got Cancelled

The pandemic didn't just change the development of Hollywood movies and shows; it just ended some of them entirely. We already mentioned how the MCU series got shortened, but that's because they were already in development, halfway done filming. But not everything was that lucky. 

One Piece, the show about pirates and how animes run for far too long, is getting a live-action Netflix adaptation. It was in the works when the lockdowns happened and went on hold and has been delayed since. Only, recently didn't production start back up. And some shows got it worse. The planned crossover between Batwoman and Superman and Lois, part of the Arrowverse's yearly crossovers, was fully canceled.

Superman and Lois

CW

Oh no! Anyway ...

But sometimes, even changes, delays, and rewrites aren't enough to save you. Not even if you're almost finished and based on a famous writer's—okay, we're talking about Nimona.

Noelle Stevenson's Nimona, a fantasy webcomic about a teenage shapeshifter in a future techno land, was getting a long-awaited adaptation that was reportedly around 80% finished, and a year out from release, when Blue Sky got shut down entirely, as a company, by Disney, due to the pandemic. If you recognize Stevenson's name but can't place it, they famously wrote Lumberjanes and, oh, yeah, was the showrunner for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Despite being almost complete, the film is now just dust, another victim of the pandemic

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Changed Entirely As It Was Filmed During The Pandemic

When Sacha Baron Cohen went around America filming Borat, he wasn't planning on documenting one of the largest world events in recent history. He was planning on making a film that absolutely no one would ever watch sober, about Borat sending his daughter to the President (remember when that was Trump?) to apologize for making fun of him in the previous film. Along the way, Borat things would happen. But so would the pandemic. 

As Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was being made, the pandemic was slowly spreading throughout the world, and the film caught the beginnings of the lockdown and documented the world-changing ... in the background of the Borat film. It's like the very beginning of Cloverfield.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Amazon Studios

The mask is foreshadowing.

The film, obviously, had to change, and the way it did was to say that Borat was Patient Zero and had been spreading corona around the world as he traveled. The film's entire narrative was rewritten as it was being made, with the focus changed from #Drumpf to documenting and mocking the world-altering pandemic as it happened.

One scene has Borat break into a speech Pence is giving in which Pence claims that coronavirus is not a concern and that Trump is ready for anything. Another extended sequence has Borat stay with two of "America's top scientists" who teach him how the "Chinese virus" was created by blood-sucking Clintons. The climax of the movie takes place at an anti-masking gun rally where he sings about injecting Obama with "the Wuhan flu."

The entire film was shifted to revolve around the changing world, and at the end, Borat learns that the entire trip was an excuse for him to spread COVID for the world laughing at the first film. 

Tara Marie writes words at places including here, Panel X Panel, The Hard Times, and Trailer Park Boys Get a F#¢*!ng Comic Book! You can yell at her for things she’s done wrong @TaraMarieWords on Twitter or by shouting your complaints into a dark well.

Top Image: Marvel Studios

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