Not long ago, a new release from Marvel Studios was a guaranteed hit, whether the film starred one of the world’s most popular superheroes or introduced audiences to characters few knew about. Experts wondered how long such an interconnected franchise could survive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe became the highest-grossing film series in history and continued to break records.

Marvel broke another record this weekend, although not a record that anyone in Hollywood could have predicted just a few years ago. The wondersthe follow-up to filmmaker Nia DaCosta’s $1 billion hit Captain Marvel (2019) debuted with the lowest opening weekend grosses in the MCU’s fifteen-year history. The numbers are sobering for a film that cost over $250 million to produce, and have led fans, commentators and Hollywood insiders to ask: Are Marvel’s days in the spotlight over?

Some are all too quick to grab a shovel and start digging a grave for the MCU, a move that seems premature given its recent hits Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever And Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

One thing can’t be denied, though: Marvel Studios can no longer just rely on the Marvel Studios name to keep people in their seats, but it needs to give audiences a reason to be excited and feel like they’re watching something , something they’ve never seen before , and not just something they can watch on the TV a little later.

Several factors were cited for this The wondersThe low turnout ranged from the actors’ strike that prevented charismatic leads Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani from promoting the film, to lackluster marketing to superhero fatigue.

Others have attributed The wonders‘ Opening up to racism and misogyny; It was directed by a black woman and two of the film’s leads are POC. I hesitate to say this at the end because it’s kind of an excuse that studios have used in the past to ignore POC films, especially those starring and directed by women. This does not mean that misogyny and racism do not exist, but rather that there are successes Barbie and those led by women Wakanda forever contradict this narrative.

The most obvious culprit is the flood of Marvel projects released in the last few years. Marvel Studios, led by Disney’s Bob Iger and then Bob Chapek, saturated the market with Marvel projects to drive Disney+ subscriptions. But releasing multiple projects per quarter left audiences feeling exhausted and behind.

For all of Marvel’s Infinity Saga’s flaws, it felt more focused. There were a set number of characters whose stories all took place in films. Post Office-Avengers: Endgamewe’ve been introduced to a ton of new characters who mostly don’t interact with each other, whose projects all set up different storylines that have yet to converge, and who haven’t been seen for years between projects, making it hard for audiences to get used to them , as was the case with the OG Avengers.

The fact that there hasn’t been one New Avengers The film feels like a huge oversight. An Avengers movie before that The wonders would probably have done just as much good for the film Captain Marvel I benefited greatly from being in between Avengers: Infinity War And Avengers: Endgame. Still, Marvel seems intent on saving the Avengers for the conclusion of the multiverse saga Avengers: The Kang Dynasty And Avengers: Secret Warsin an effort to create the next thing Infinity War And Endgame.

But that’s never what the Avengers were about. It was about bringing new characters together and solidifying who they are in the midst of their peers and global threats. In the comics The Avengers runs monthly, and while the Avengers films should feel special, they also shouldn’t take a decade to complete. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have seen Doctor Strange, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Shang-Chi, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp Team as the newest version of the Avengers.

Marvel Studios has also cannibalized projects that would have made great films to create “content” for Disney+. Secret invasionthe poorly received Samuel L. Jackson series from earlier this year could have been quite similar Captain America: Civil War and played on the big screen instead of becoming a haphazardly assembled show that got rid of valuable characters, bore no similarities to the popular comic book event created by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu, and actively damaged the MCU with a final one-minute character -Power up.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in The wonders.

Regardless of opinions about it The wonders‘Narrative, that’s obvious Captain Marvel: Secret Invasion would have had greater appeal to the audience. It would have allowed fans to jump straight into a graphic novel and build excitement, which is what happened Civil War. Monica and Kamala could still have been included, and along with a mix of new and old heroes, it could have been a quirky event that actually did justice to the themes Captain Marvel set up. It would have made Captain Marvel a permanent fixture in the future. Instead, we are left with the significant possibility that The wonders will be Captain Marvel’s final solo film.

Still, Marvel Studios will move forward, having learned from last year’s disappointments. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes could ultimately benefit the MCU in the long run, forcing the studio to suspend all of its theatrical projects Deadpool 3 from 2024 and into 2025. The move will give viewers a much-needed break from the constant Marvel projects, and given the excitement generated by the set images alone of Hugh Jackman in Wolverine’s classic blue and yellow costume, and the fact that Deadpool 3 will essentially be Marvel Studios’ first real attempt at live-action mutants, chances are by this time next summer everyone will be talking about Marvel Studios’ big comeback.

The wonders DC’s certainly isn’t alone in the disappointing box office for superhero fare this year Shazam! Rage of the gods, The Lightning And Blue beetle and Marvels Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania all underperforming. Superhero fatigue has been the popular theory, and I think there’s certainly some truth to that. But then you see the success of Guardians Vol. 3 And Spider-Man: About the Spider-verses this summer, or the goodwill surrounding superhero-centric shows Gen V, Loki And Invincible. Suddenly fatigue feels a little too much like a panacea.

The performance of The wonders Last weekend was undeniably a disappointment. But every long-standing franchise has growing pains. Just like Bond didn’t die when Timothy Dalton’s films disappointed at the box office and Batman managed to survive the cold shoulder of it Batman and Robin, Marvel won’t die. At this point it is an institution.

And while we may get fewer films, hopefully we’ll get ones that are more affordable and of more consistent quality. This is the Marvel method that made the MCU a hitmaker in the first place, and a tried-and-tested formula that can still work while pushing forward new characters and new stories. The age of miracles is not over yet. It’s a little tired, scarred and black eyed as it tries to fight through the rubble on its back, but as we all know, that’s often when heroes come into their own.

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