Many will be quick to paint The Marvels’ failure as an instant sign of superhero fatigue, especially after the tough year the DCEU had at the box office.
But if that was the case, how did both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Across the Spider-Verse turn over such impressive numbers over the summer?
Here are just a few of the key reasons behind The Marvels’ struggles:
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Early critic reviews dropped for the Captain Marvel sequel shortly before release, and things were not looking particularly great. The Rotten Tomatoes rating, while still “Fresh,” marked the third-lowest in MCU history at just 62%.
The release came around, and The Marvels didn’t land especially great with fans either, tying the record for the lowest CinemaScore in the MCU with a “B” – the same as Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and Eternals.
In an age where there is so much superhero content from Marvel and DC, fans of the genre have far more to choose from, meaning they don’t necessarily need to watch every new release to get their fix in the way they once did. This has left the word-of-mouth for a movie being more important than ever at the box office.
MCU Troubles & Superhero Fatigue
The MCU may still be the biggest franchise in the world with every new movie and show receiving viral attention. But as reception becomes increasingly middling amid declining box office returns, the term “superhero fatigue” has been thrown around more than ever in the last year.
The Infinity Saga was able to keep fans’ attention from beginning to end as the mystery of Thanos and the Infinity Stones continued to brew. But there is no denying interest has not been as high in the larger MCU story throughout the Multiverse Saga, leaving viewers less motivated to see every last project.
The Streaming Effect
One also has to consider the post-pandemic streaming push as a factor, with an increasing volume of audiences waiting to enjoy movies at home.
As The Marvels’ marketing didn’t show any major signs of being exceptional, urgent, spoiler-heavy, or MCU-significant viewing, many likely opted to hold out for the at-home or upcoming Disney+ release, skipping out on the theatrical run.
The Marvels perhaps marked the biggest crossover yet of streaming and the big-screen, bringing together a theatrical hero with two from Disney+.
While this team-up may be an enthralling premise for diehard fans, those who haven’t seen Ms. Marvel or WandaVision may not be as enthusiastic, or may even be concerned they won’t understand the movie without seeing either show.
Those concerned prospective audiences would be somewhat right, as the sequel does connect to the two Disney+ series in some, mostly minor ways – although Kamala Khan’s super-powered bangle does prove central to the story.
The Captain Marvel Issue
Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel has also proved to be a rather divisive hero throughout her MCU tenure, with many fans taking issue with the character.
While some may point to her billion-dollar-grossing 2019 debut as an indicator that isn’t a factor, Captain Marvel undeniably benefited from its two-month proximity to Avengers: Endgame and being the MCU’s first female-led film.
Between the controversy surrounding the character and being the sequel to Captain Marvel, a somewhat unpopular MCU movie, The Marvels had plenty going against it, which may leave Captain Marvel 3 in doubt.