By now, probably everyone is aware of the box office poison that is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Now these numbers, as bad as they may be for a movie that reportedly cost $250 million to make and guaranteed to lose Disney Marvel tens, if not hundreds of millions, are actually worse than early projections. In fact, they're worse than recent projections that were way down from the early ones.
And there can be many reasons for the public's near total disinterest in the latest installment of a film franchise that for nearly a dozen years was a virtual license to print money. (I mean fuck, a movie about a guy who can make himself into an ant and talk to ants and still be as strong as one fully grown Paul Rudd was a massive success. That's the definition of being able to do no wrong.) Superhero fatigue, for one. Declining quality for another. The fact the release date for The Marvels was pushed back no less than four times over the span of a couple of years as the studio ordered reshoot after reshoot because they realized they had a disaster on their hands. The watering down of the product with all the Marvel series on Disney+. Chaos at the studio that had technical crews overworked an unable to complete CGI effects, making everything look cheap. The difficulty of replacing the iconic characters and stars the MCU was built upon:
And were this any other time, the people in charge would to a self-assessment, look back at their mistakes and figure out how to correct them. And do whatever they could to bring back the impossibly broad and loyal following they've enjoyed since Iron Man started it all.
But this is 2023. Now the answer is to blame the fans for not coming out to see your unpopular, badly reviewed movie:
Source - Nia DaCosta survived the roller coaster of making “The Marvels." … First, she wanted to make a movie that was “fun, funny and full of heart.” “What I like about Marvel films is that they have a consistent energy,” she says, “but they can feel really different depending on what the vibe is or who the filmmaker is.” …
DaCosta is familiar with the negative side of fandom — after all, she’s been a “big ol’ fan of nerdy shit for a long time” — but she’s not letting it get under her skin.
“There are pockets where you go because you’re like, ‘I’m a super fan. I want to exist in the space of just adoration — which includes civilized critique,” she explains. “Then there are pockets that are really virulent and violent and racist — and sexist and homophobic and all those awful things. And I choose the side of the light. That’s the part of fandom I’m most attracted to.”
Right off the bat, let me acknowledge that when it comes to identity politics, I'm batting .000. I'm an aging, Irish Catholic heterosexual male. So there's no upside to me pushing back against anyone calling people -ists and -phobes. You speak you truth. And while I think telling the same general public you've literally made hundreds of billions of dollars from over the years they're all nothing but a collection of angry, violent, hate-filled losers isn't exactly the best business model when you've got a whole other phase of your cinematic universe in production.
Besides, if the average movie goer was like that, they've been doing a pisspoor job of showing it. After all, the original Captain Marvel wasn't all that good but still made over a billion. As did Black Panther. And I believe the highest grossing movie of 2023 - by a long, long way - was about a plastic doll that was only sold in that pink aisle of the toy stores that I and my kids never had to venture down because I only have boys. (RIP, Toys 'R Us.) Somehow that one managed to overcome America's rampant misogyny.
However, out of respect to Nia DaCosta and the "virulent" nerds she resents so much for not spending money on her film, let me offer an alternative explanation for her movie's failure. And it's by no means her fault. Here goes:
Captain Marvel is a shitty character.
Just one man's opinion. But Marvel completely wrote themselves into a corner here:
OK, so we've got this empowered female girl boss superhero.
Great. What are her powers?
Everything. She can do everything. Fly through space. Destroy things with light from her hands. Ignite stars. The works.
OK. So does she go on a hero's journey where she discovers these abilities?
Nope. They're just given to her.
Okaaayyy. Does she have character flaws?
Not a one. She's perfect in every way.
Even Superman had one green rock that made him weak. Marvel created someone who doesn't even have that. Then gave her two co-workers who have the same power. They made Marvels Angels. That's just lazy storytelling. And even if you made the best possible version of that - and for all I know DaCosta may have - that's not worth me getting in the car and paying 20 bucks or whatever they're getting for shoddy, second rate movies now.
Finally, I've read where something like 65% of the admittedly small audience they've been getting has been male. Because no matter how you try to deny it and change human nature, guys are the vast majority of superhero consumers. Both movies and comics.
But I suppose if I had my name on a disaster on the scale of The Marvels I'd try to blame everyone and everthing except The Marvels as well. That's how we roll these days.