Marvel Studios experienced a tumultuous 2023, witnessing both successes and significant setbacks in their cinematic endeavors. While productions like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Loki season 2 received acclaim, the same year saw a string of perceived failures, notably Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Secret Invasion, and The Marvels, which particularly faced immense challenges leading to unexpected box office disappointment.
The Marvels, a sequel to the highly successful Captain Marvel, took an unexpected hit in terms of box office earnings, despite its predecessor’s substantial $1 billion success. Several factors contributed to the film’s unfavourable outcome, highlighting a convergence of five primary reasons:
The film’s promotional campaign encountered challenges due to the actors’ strike, resulting in limited pre-release appearances by the lead actors. Moreover, the trailers’ marketing strategies shifted from portraying it as a light-hearted team-up film to heavily emphasizing connections to Avengers: Endgame, which fans perceived as overt nostalgia bait.
Captain Marvel’s polarizing reception, including controversial review-bombing targeted at its lead actor Brie Larson, affected the sequel’s perception before its release, creating an initial atmosphere of scepticism and negativity.
The Marvels served as a sequel to multiple projects within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), encompassing Captain Marvel, WandaVision, Ms. Marvel, Secret Invasion, and Avengers: Endgame. While enticing dedicated MCU followers, the interconnectedness and requirement to revisit past movies and shows might have deterred casual audiences.
The film was initially perceived as a lightweight, standalone adventure with familiar characters, lacking significant impact on the MCU’s overarching narrative. Although it later revealed connections to the X-Men in a post-credits scene, this revelation might not have been sufficient to elevate its perceived importance.
Growing sentiments of superhero fatigue and a shift in audience preferences towards fresh and distinct cinematic experiences were evident. The trend towards standalone movies with individual stories, like Barbie and Oppenheimer, highlighted a desire for diverse narratives, potentially impacting franchise-driven universes like the MCU.
Marvel Studios, with only Deadpool 3 slated for release in 2024, faces an opportunity to recalibrate their approach and potentially revitalize the MCU. The landscape is evolving, with renewed interest in standalone films outside the universe framework. This shift in audience preferences might prompt Marvel to reassess their strategies and create innovative approaches as they prepare for future releases.