What happens when the invincible becomes vulnerable? That’s the question that the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, must find an answer to. After 10 years of unparalleled success, the MCU is suddenly no longer the critical or fan darling it once was. But what’s the issue?
The films are no longer universally beloved
Forget about financial success for a second, because even if an MCU film only makes $900 million instead of a billion dollars, it’s still more successful than 99.9% of other movies released. At this point, these films are like theme park rides and the audience will come to see the attraction. However, the MCU doesn’t seem to have that takeover of pop culture sway it used to have.
Look at Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as a recent example. On opening weekend, the Internet was abuzz about the big surprises and reveals from the movie (and a hint of detraction too), then the chatter died down almost immediately. Conversely, Top Gun: Maverick released three weeks later, and everyone is still discussing that movie after almost a month.
As touched upon in a previous article, the critics are falling out of love with the MCU. In the past, this franchise could do no wrong as countless pieces were written in defense of the MCU and why Martin Scorsese was wrong about superhero movies. Now, though, it seems like there are a few twisted noses whenever something new is released.
The Disney+ magic is gone
When Marvel Studios announced plans to release MCU shows on Disney+, everyone presumed it was game over for the competitors. Not only would Marvel rule at the box office, but it would also take over the small screens. Unfortunately, all the hype seems to have dissipated over time.
First, it began with fans criticising the CGI of the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law trailer. While it was only a promotional item for the show and not necessarily indicative of the final quality, it was embarrassing to see how that was released to the public and no one anticipated a fallout in the age of vocal fans.
Then, Ms. Marvel arrived. While the show is fantastic and received positive reviews, the general audience aren’t showing up for it. According to Samba TV, the premiere episode featured the lowest viewership of all the MCU series. However, it does appear to be a hit among the Gen Z segment.
Are Iron Man and Captain America missed in the MCU?
For a decade, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America were the heart and soul of the MCU. Everything revolved around them and fans grew to love these two characters. Since they departed the franchise in Avengers: Endgame, it’s clear that they have been sorely missed.
While Marvel has tried hard to push other characters to the forefront, it doesn’t appear like the audience is biting on that front. Spider-Man is the exception here; however, he is technically a Sony character and Tom Holland has confirmed he’s taking a break from the spandex for a while.
None of the new characters introduced in the MCU have had the appeal of Cap or Iron Man, and Feige must be considering his X-Men and Fantastic Four plans by now. There is a gap for a new face—or even faces—to lead the franchise going forward, and the studio will want to sort this out before it’s too late.
The wave of superhero euphoria could be reaching its end
Comic book properties have been riding the wave of success since 2008. They have dominated television and film in ways that have never been seen before. For years, industry experts have predicted that the bubble would burst at some point and superhero fatigue would kick in. Studios have shrugged it off and laughed all the way to the back. However, there are signs that it might be finally happening now.
There are many people who considered Endgame the end of the MCU and gave up on everything since then. There’s also the possibility that there’s way too much content to keep track of right now. From the influx of movies to the TV shows, people would need to live an MCU-centric life and nothing else to be on top of everything. With other quality, non-superhero programming on screens at the moment, there’s a chance the audience will want a break from the capes and cowls.
Less might be more going forward
Make no mistake about it, the MCU is a content machine. However, its success could hinge on it pumping the brakes for a while. It’s wowed and dazzled the world with what it’s done, but it needs to learn how to slow down with its release schedule. Choose fewer projects and focus the energy into making those the best possible. After all, how can anyone miss you if you never go away?