The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has so far created 31 films starting with the release of Iron Man in 2007. Their box office gross is over $28 billion and it is considered the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. This article aims to analyze why Marvel peaked so high in its first decade, and if a decline of interest is nearer than expected.
Marvel is known to have off-the-charts box office numbers. In other words, their movies break records. Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing movie of all time at the time of its release grossing $2,797,501,328 with Avengers: Infinity War not far off grossing $2,048,359,754.
While these films made the most money, they were not the only movies that had impressive numbers at the box office. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Black Panther, and Captain America: Civil War all made over a billion dollars.
In essence, the first decade of the MCU produced many record-breaking films that left fans applauding and even giving standing ovations in theaters. And according to one article, “people on the internet were dodging spoilers, giving each other advice on which scene was perfect for a bathroom break, and even discussing theories for the future of the MCU.”
But what made the MCU so successful?
In this first decade, MCU producers and writers culminated 11 years and 22 films for one climactic film: Avengers: Endgame. Each of these 22 movies included characters that fans got to grow up with and see progress. Their stories were told thoroughly by actors that performed well and were quickly loved by audiences. These 22 movies each had a common thread that led to one final movie (Avengers: Endgame) that “was the event of a lifetime,” as one writer put it.
It was this common theme and slow progression that kept fans on the edge of their seats for over a decade. And to top it all off, Marvel would leave “easter egg” scenes at the end of the credits that gave audiences a glimpse of what was to come in the next movies. This strategy left fans buzzing in anticipation.
However, there have been 8 films since the release of Endgame, and only Spider-Man: No Way Home elicited any kind of response that was congruent with previous movies. Fans have continued to be underwhelmed by the MCU’s next release of movies, referred to as Phase 4, with Phase 3 ending with Avengers: Endgame.
This lack of interest by fans has led to the question, is Marvel declining as a whole?
One reason for its decline could be that the novelty is wearing off. One article pointed out that one of the most successful movie series, Harry Potter, even struggled to keep its momentum for more than a decade. This could mean that the decade that fans followed Marvel’s universe is long enough, and that momentum must decline eventually.
However, after researching reasons for the MCU’s decline, the same points were argued throughout many different sites. And these reasons had less to do with the inevitable fall of the industry and more with the disappointment in the performance of Marvel’s producers and actors.
One writer and fan wrote, “the MCU’s Phase 4 [had a] lack of cohesion.” Marvel has been introducing characters that are leaving the audience wondering about their relevance and if they will appear again. There has been an overall confusion on how different movies and TV series connect to an overarching theme. In other words, fans no longer feel anticipation for what will happen next because there is no main story thread throughout the movies, contrasting the earlier films which had a continuous progression. This confusion is leading to a gradual lack of interest.
Additionally, fans are starting to feel underwhelmed by the casting and performance of these actors. I remember watching Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse and one of my friends raved about how he thought the movie was terrible because the actress who played America Chavez was terrible and the ending made no sense.
In another instance, I had a family member say of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, “Don’t watch it. It was a waste of time and money.” She felt the plot was so bad that it wasn’t worth watching even once.
These opinions are not just given by my friends and family. David Cabellero, a science fiction writer, also gave a hard critique of the direction of the MCU. He wrote, “the MCU is now looking uglier and more tiresome than ever. Like the once-delicious meal that becomes tasteless after eating it one too many times, the massive franchise is now lifeless, soulless, and worst of all, boring.”
With all of Marvel’s success and its negative critiques, it is hard to say in what direction this cinematic universe will go in. But what is clear is that Marvel needs to make some changes in order to keep their viewership alive. No business is immune from struggle, not even a business as successful as the MCU.
Edited by: Whitney Edna Ibe
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in