The decline in Marvel’s stature is often attributed to a myriad of reasons: Jonathan Majors’ legal troubles, James Gunn’s departure and the rise of DCU, or the perceived negative impact of “The Marvels” counteracting the goodwill earned by “Loki.” However, the root cause of this downfall can be traced back to Marvel’s ability to achieve monumental success and maintain it for an impressive decade, serving as both the catalyst and the kindling fueling the present discontent.
Marvel’s ascension to fame commenced with the groundbreaking success of “Iron Man” in 2008, sustaining its momentum through “Avengers: Endgame” and “Far From Home.” Even minor stumbles like “The Incredible Hulk” and “Thor: The Dark World” barely dented its trajectory. “Endgame” especially propelled the MCU to unforeseen heights, emboldening the studio to embrace previously feared risks.
However, Marvel’s subsequent missteps led to a self-inflicted litany of problems eroding its core.
One glaring issue is the abandonment of coherent storytelling and continuity, exemplified by Nick Fury’s baffling inconsistencies across various productions within a short time span. This lack of narrative cohesion extends to unresolved plot threads like Kamala’s origins, inert repercussions from “The Eternals,” and perplexing memory dynamics involving Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.
Marvel’s strength lay in unveiling mysteries gradually, but the current approach risks confusion. For instance, if Iron Man’s suits suddenly changed without explanation or Thor befriended his once adversary Hela without context, the narrative coherence of Phase 1 would have been severely compromised.
Another significant misstep is Marvel’s reliance on star power and existing fan faith to drive projects forward. While casting esteemed actors like Angelina Jolie, Christian Bale, and Gemma Chan adds allure, relying solely on their names without substantial character development or compelling scripts is insufficient.
Moreover, Marvel’s intensified use of comic book references and Easter eggs has transitioned from subtle nods to overt teasers, unfulfilled promises, and dashed expectations. Instances like teasing Mephisto in “WandaVision” only to reveal a different conclusion undermined fan trust and anticipation.
Marvel’s pursuit of quantity over quality has led to rushed, subpar content plaguing recent releases. Issues such as awkward CGI, forced humor, poorly developed villains, and disjointed plots in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “The Marvels,” “Ms. Marvel,” and “She-Hulk” underscore this deteriorating quality.
Ultimately, while superhero fatigue may contribute partially to this decline, the real fatigue stems from Marvel’s delivery of substandard content, seemingly relying on its illustrious history and flashy presentations to overshadow these shortcomings. As a devoted Marvel enthusiast, I fervently hope the studio learns from these mistakes without necessitating more errors to correct them.