The year 2023 proved to be one to forget for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Apart from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which also serves as James Gunn’s last effort for Marvel Studios before taking the wheel at DC, the remaining films and Disney+ shows can best be described as tepid. It only reinforces the notion that the post-Endgame MCU is running on fumes and heading toward collapse.
RELATED: Will Venom 3 Be Tom Hardy’s Last Appearance as Eddie Brock?
What capped off one of the MCU’s worst years, though, was the box office bomb of The Marvels. To be fair, most people saw it coming from a mile away, but the studio and big brother, Disney, failed to listen, believing the Marvel sticker would work like a cinematic charm bracelet and attract a billion dollars. The movie crashed and burned, looking highly unlikely it will make back its production budget at the end of its theatrical run. Concerningly, the executives have also learned the wrong lesson from this failure.
Why did The Marvels bomb so badly?
Before all the Neanderthals start shouting, “Woke,” and parroting everything they read from the cartoon avatars and bottom-feeding politicians on Film Twitter, let’s get something straight: There’s nothing wrong with all-female superhero films and if that bothers someone, they should really log off the internet and touch grass occasionally. That isn’t the reason The Marvels failed.
This film is the culmination of a bubbling issue that the MCU hasn’t addressed for a while. Avengers: Endgame was the swansong for many of Marvel’s hardest hitters, as it closed a major chapter in the story. Now, it’s up to the remaining characters to move forward and write the next instalment in the saga. One issue, though: None of these characters have been as universally beloved as the likes of Captain America and Iron Man. They feel secondary, and this is because of the poor character development and lack of establishing them as genuine articles.
RELATED: Darkseid vs. Thanos: Who Is The Ultimate Villain?
For example: Captain Marvel’s solo film happened mere months before Endgame, and she also barely featured in that movie as well. Why should the audience be as invested in her as they are in the likes of Thor or Hulk? Marvel Studios missed a golden opportunity to kickstart the next phase by introducing established names like the Fantastic Four and X-Men, which would have ensured instant buy-in from the viewers. Instead, the MCU put its faith in B-grade characters – which could have been A-list if they had been built up in the correct manner in the past.
Disney learned all the wrong lessons
DC fans are veterans of studio politics. Everyone knows by now that a studio takes zero accountability for failure – it’s always someone else’s fault as these executives spend their time turning into human snowmen and blaming those pesky creatives for not being business-minded individuals. It appears as if Disney is learning the same tricks from its pals at Warner Bros. Discovery.
Speaking at the DealBook Summit in New York (via NBC News), The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger addressed The Marvels and Marvel Studios’ recent bombs. Since The Marvels was shot over the pandemic, Iger said, “There wasn’t as much supervision on the set … where we have executives there really looking over what’s being done.” He stated that Disney will be paying more attention to its productions and execs will need to be more present on set for quality control. Um, now where has micromanagement ever helped the creative industry before?
RELATED: Blade: What Mahershala Ali Could Do Differently Than Wesley Snipes
It’s no secret that Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige calls most of the shots in the MCU, and his decisions are final. However, it’s clear that Feige invites people to work in the sandbox as long as they understand there’s a bigger picture to serve rather than complete creative expression. It’s like working on a television show; there are established rules and storylines bookmarking each episode, so filmmakers, actors, crews, and writers need to play ball and respect the overall vision. What Iger suggests, though, is worrisome.
The MCU’s solution is simple
No company or product has ever been improved by throwing more cooks (or managers) in a kitchen. Especially in the entertainment industry. Yes, there are checks and gatekeepers for several reasons, but putting more execs on set isn’t going to improve the quality. The standard needs to be set before it heads in front of the camera.
Quite frankly, the MCU needs to select and produce better movies and television shows. While the studio was never creating Casablanca to begin with, the latest batch has felt more by-the-numbers than anything else as Marvel Studios churns out productions like sandwiches. These aren’t must-see cinematic events – they’re content that someone can watch on Disney+ when they feel like it.
RELATED: The Best & Worst Marvel Movies In 2023
If there’s something Bob Iger can do as CEO of one of the world’s largest entertainment companies in the world, it’s to take pause for a second. His executives aren’t going to make good movies by being on set; in fact, the opposite will happen. Instead, everyone needs to take a hard look in the mirror and admit the MCU hasn’t been at the level it should be. From there, they can right the wrongs and get back on track. But if they choose to micromanagement over creativity? Well, say hi to the SnyderVerse on the way to the graveyard for shared universes.