With a budget of over $275 Million, and with opening Domestic Box Office earnings of only $47 million, many are calling “The Marvels” a “flop”, but is that true and is the future of the MCU uncertain?
Let’s be honest, the low numbers that The Marvels is yielding right now is not a true reflection of the quality of the film. So why exactly is it doing so poorly when compared to other Marvel Cinematic Universe projects? There are multiple factors at play that many news outlets are not discussing and hate mongers are unwilling to bring to light.
The WGA/SAG-AFTRA Strikes
One of the factors to consider is the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes that lead up to this film’s release. The official trailer for the film was released six days after the SAG strike had begun and the strike only ended the day of the North America premiere date. As a byproduct of this strike occurring many influencers online made the decision to stand in solidarity with the rights of actors in the entertainment industry by not providing struck studios with free advertising. While not every creator who continued discussing the release of this film is a rage-baiter, it can be seen that those who have built their platform around getting people riled up were still discussing this film and not in a good light at that. So as a repercussion, the general audience’s anticipation for The Marvels was skewed towards the negative. While it may be difficult to believe that social media is capable of influencing the general audience, it does. The social media commentary helps keep the project in eye of the public and does influence many to buy tickets.
Then there’s the fact that the actors were unable to help advertise for this film. Without a doubt, had the actors been allowed to run the press junkets together and engage in interviews the numbers would have seen a sizeable boost. Maybe not enough to have beaten Captain Marvel’s box office numbers (especially considering that this is the 5th most expensive MCU project), but definitely better than its domestic $47 million box office weekend and probably better than Eternals’ $71.3M opening. Observing fan reactions to Iman Vellani as an example now that the film is out, had the internet gotten just a sample of how she interacts with her co-stars (Brie Larson and Teyonah Paris) in interviews like WIRED’s Most Searched Questions, then the internet would have undoubtedly gushed over her and had a larger desire to have seen the film.
Another factor to consider is the fact that this is the first Marvel project that is directed by a black woman and on top of that it stars three women; two of which are women of color. The fact that the project not only stars three under represented minorities, but is made by one as well; it undoubtedly has unwarranted hate directed at it from bigoted individuals who can’t stand the success of women and women of color. That is not to say that anyone who disliked the film is a bigot, but it would be ignorant to refute that such people exist amongst the internet that would try to influence the failure of this project.
Then we have a genuine exhaustion with the MCU. Which is understandable, because of the pandemic fans were bombarded by the mass amount of backlogged new Marvel content not only in film, but in 2021 fans were given shows as well. As a result the new pacing has caught up with some fans. So if some have become somewhat disillusioned with the Marvel brand due to this exhaustion that is on Marvel for pumping out so much content with varying degrees of enjoyment. (Though personally it has stayed quite consistent in its quality from the Infinity Saga.) While comic book fans may be used to waiting for pay-offs established years in advanced it is becoming more clear than ever that a majority of the casual audience members that watch these films may not have such a level of patience when it comes to the films and shows. People want that instant gratification that comes with seeing five films that lead to a big team-up. While the current method of the MCU has for the majority now taken the time to explore new characters and story ideas independently from other projects to come. There are the obvious projects that will impact the next big team-up film (Loki, Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania and Doctor Strange into the Multiverse of Madness) and then there are the projects that continue the story of characters that people have come to know, love and adore from the phases prior (Wakanda Forever, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 and Spider-Man: No Way Home). Considering all those factors for the other projects and then applying it to The Marvels. The Marvels sadly does not carry the good will of the majority of fans from the prior phases due to how Captain Marvel was introduced to the MCU, the lack of a lasting impact in Avengers: Endgame, the only other ties for this movie being a Disney+ show that some may not have watched, another Disney+ series that ties in where one of the characters in this movie was not the focus and while the film has a good story, it is not obvious as to how the story for this movie will influence the future of the MCU.
The Future of Entertainment
The final point to consider is the direction of how the entertainment industry is changing. With the future of how convenient streaming is becoming many are slowly beginning to no longer view Marvel films as these events that need to be seen in theaters as a byproduct of this exhaustion and that they can just be viewed at the comfort of their home on streaming when it gets added to Disney+ in four months after its premiere. This is a consistent threat that is now impacting theaters and many other films, though this does not mean that audiences are not entirely unwilling to go out to witness these projects in person. Just look at Five Nights at Freddy’s this year. It was released on Peacock the same day as the movie’s theatrical release and it made $80 million dollars in its opening weekend box office, though it did have a 75% drop off. How Marvel can earn back this form of good faith from the audience is a discussion for another day though.
Considering all that this film has working against it, it is not a huge surprise but a true travesty that The Marvels is under performing when compared to other Marvel projects, because it is one of the most unapologetic comic book movies Marvel has put out. The Marvels have some of the most creative and beautiful action sequences, quality character moments, an excellent cast with a chemistry that many films would kill for and comedy that would likely leave most smiling for a solid 30 minutes through. At the end of the day, give The Marvels a try, forge your own opinions and you might actually be surprised by the joy that this film can provide you.
Marvel Studios’ The Marvels in Theaters now.