Marvel, once invincible, becomes mortal

Poster for Avengers: Endgame (2019), the high point for Marvel Studios

Four years after Marvel Studios had a huge hit with Avengers: Endgame, the unit of Walt Disney Co. is having a tough time.

Marvel hasn’t come close to Endgame-level box office (almost $2.8 billion) with subsequent movies. The studio has reached deep into the Marvel catalog of characters for movies such as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($432.2 million), The Eternals ($402.1 million), and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (currently at about $462 million).

Such movies haven’t generated Avengers-level box office while incurring Avengers-level costs. Marvel’s biggest recent success was Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), with $1.9 billion at the box office. But Spider-Man movies are joint ventures between Marvel and Sony Pictures. The latter owns the rights to Spider-Man with Marvel producing the films.

Marvel also has been making television shows for the Disney + streaming service. So the attention of Marvel management is a bit stretched these days.

Today, The Hollywood Reporter said that a high-ranking Marvel executive, Victoria Alonso, has left Marvel. She had been with Marvel since 2006. With recent Marvel films, she’s had the title of executive producer. With movies, executive producer ranks below producer, the title Marvel chief Kevin Feige has in the credits for Marvel films.

Alonso also received attention when she once said that the name X-Men was “outdated” because the superhero group included women members. X-Men is one of Marvel’s most valuable pieces of “intellectual property.” The group of mutant superheroes has always had women members since its 1963 debut. Disney got control of the X-Men after it acquired 20th Century Fox, which held the rights to the comic book property.

It remains to be seen what happens next. There is a lot of talk about superhero fatigue at the cinema. Marvel rival Warner Bros. is revamping, again, its lineup of superhero films. Warner Bros. hired James Gunn, who worked on Marvel films in the past, to be co-chief of its DC Comics efforts.

At the very least, Marvel’s Feige probably shouldn’t expect that Thalberg award (for lifetime achievement by a producer) anytime soon

3 Responses

  1. ‘Shang-Chi’ and ‘The Eternals’ could at least blame their box office failure on Covid and the dual-release strategy pursued at the time. ‘Quantumania’ cannot.

    There has also been allegations of ill-treatment of the VFX providers for Marvel, with Alonso a big part of that.

  2. Aside from “go woke go broke” considerations, which isn’t a huge problem with the big Marvel movies (as opposed to the DC Arrowverse, where woke was suddenly rampant, resulting IMO as cause for viewer drop-off and recent cancellation of 4 series) I think Marvel’s main problem might be going with unrecognizable heroes eg Shang Chi and the Eternals. I didn’t even know Shang Chi was a Marvel movie. It’s not even on my radar and The Eternals, I ignored in cinema, as I had no idea what it was about. It didn’t seem to have any recognizable connection with the other Marvel movies, all of which I’d seen. Sluggish sales for the new Ant Man surprises me though, as the Antman and characters were deftly integrated with the original MCU.
    Maybe though the movies post Endgame just haven’t been as good. The latest Thor films for example have been goofy and terrible. Black Panther without actual Black Panther I haven’t watched yet. Eternals I eventually watched and found it to be awful. I think they might have to get back to basic core super-heroes. Even latest Dr Strange I didn’t watch in cinema and didn’t very much enjoy. I still haven’t seen new Antman but I do want to.
    Solution I think is twofold. Promote the most popular heroes and stay miles away from accusations of woke.

  3. […] the outside, it seems Marvel management, including Feige, is stretched thin. Earlier this month, one of Marvel’s top-ranking executives, Victoria Alonso, abruptly left the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: