The Marvels doesn’t need to smash the box office - it’s already a success
The Marvels has landed at a critical time for the MCU.
*Warning: contains spoilers for The Marvels*
The Marvels, despite its charm, high-quality CGI and stellar stars, has not soared higher, further and faster at the box office.
Instead, it’s been awarded the undeserved accolade of Marvel’s biggest box office "misfire", a title that overshadows the innate promise it presents for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
A Marvel movie has never flopped on an opening weekend before - audiences even turned out in their masses for Thor: The Dark World. Imagine that disappointment.
Yet, the Captain Marvel sequel pulled in a dire $47 million (£38m) across the US, falling behind the franchise’s much-maligned The Incredible Hulk ($55.4m).
Though no one expected Nia DaCosta’s sequel to rival its record-breaking predecessor, which garnered $1.2 billion (£980 million) in ticket sales - back in Marvel’s prime in 2019 - there has been a historically low turnout.
There are suspicions that the misogynistic trolls – who have a long-reigning history of targeting Brie Larson and now her new girl gang - are to blame. After all, this ugly alliance teamed-up to review bomb The Marvels' first teaser to the extent that it became the most disliked trailer on YouTube within two days.
As much as there is a vocal group boycotting the "woke feminist" film, The Marvels' box office is predominantly a product of the wider cultural landscape. Similar to the controversy around Black Widow’s dual release in cinemas and on Disney Plus, there are other factors at play here.
For 118 days, the SAG-AFRA strike reigned supreme and prevented the chaotic trio from promoting their debut film together.
Forget Hot Ones, The Graham Norton Show and meme-able press junkets, Iman Vellani, Larson and Teyonah Parris couldn’t even plug their epic venture on socials.
From the moment the agreement was reached on Thursday (9th November), it’s been a non-stop frenzy of press and surprise appearances to drum up interest for the recent release, which could have otherwise flown under the radar.
The sequel has also landed at a critical time for the MCU. Superhero fatigue has firmly set in after 32 Marvel features and 10 Disney Plus series. Earth’s mightiest heroes have struggled to sustain the attention of their staggering audience since the Infinity Saga ended with Avengers: Endgame.
Unfortunately, this also coincided with the dawn of the content era, when Disney rammed up its output exponentially and movies dropped onto Disney Plus within weeks of their cinema debut.
Even die-hard fans have struggled to keep up with the rapidly expanding universe, so for newcomers who haven’t invested 15 years of their life into the heart and soul of this franchise, there is little motivation to stick with it.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was panned by critics and fans alike, similar to Secret Invasion and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Undeniably, the studio has been prioritising the quantity of their projects over the quality, in the hope that their existing IP would save them. In the manic rush to release content, Marvel lost sight of its biggest unique draw of providing a well-developed interconnected universe.
There was a time when an MCU movie equated to a good film, but now there is an unpredictability to the franchise, which means many fans skip seeing it in cinemas to watch it for a fraction of the price at home.
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After all, post-pandemic and in a cost of living crisis, why would anyone splurge on a cinema ticket if the film isn’t guaranteed to be any good?
Revenue also does not correlate with a film’s quality. The Marvels is one of the strongest big-screen instalments from Phase 5, having addressed the frequent criticism around the recent poor CGI and the disconnected nature of the MCU.
Jersey City’s resident hero Kamala has been plucked from Ms Marvel, while Monica is fresh out of WandaVision, after her childhood debut in Captain Marvel. The studio is capitalising on what it does best again, weaving together a tapestry of characters and storylines into a connected narrative.
Alongside it being a fun, silly, all-round good time, there are a host of other reasons to celebrate female-led superhero movies, and this one in particular.
DaCosta is the first Black woman to direct a Marvel movie, and only the third woman to helm one on her own. It’s also only the third solo female superhero movie in the franchise, which is always cause for celebration, as this sub-genre is sorely behind the male-led ones.
Personally, it has also reignited my passion for the MCU. Kamala’s fervent love and belief in Captain Marvel reminded me of my own teenage adoration for the franchise. Throw in the adorable Flerkittens, an Avengers-level team-up and some of the wildest, but most brilliant, plot points and I’m sold again.
It's not a perfect movie; Marvel movies rarely are. Yet The Marvels has resurrected the embers of the MCU’s core and laid the exceptionally promising groundwork for the franchise to be rebuilt on.
In the end, The Marvels never needed to smash the box office, as it is already a success.
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