Until now, “superhero fatigue” was a convenient phrase to explain away multiple DCEU bombs, any Sony superhero movie not starring Tom Holland, or the odd random reboot like David Harbour’s woeful Hellboy. But we may just be entering the end of an era this month as The Marvels, the 32nd(!) and latest MCU movie, is expected to do less than stellar business when it releases on November 10.
How low can Marvel go? Well, with movies like Avengers: Endgame and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 setting the bar so high, a bad opening weekend performance by a Marvel movie is still better than pretty much every other film not named Barbie or involving Taylor Swift. But according to a recent article in Deadline, the opening weekend presales for The Marvels are pacing behind Black Adam (which debuted to a slightly disappointing $67 million last year) and The Flash (which flatlined at $55 million this last summer). Ouch.
Why is Marvel suddenly so vulnerable? Well, there are a few theories. The aforementioned superhero fatigue is one. And the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike isn’t helping matters. While the union representing all of the actors in Hollywood is striking in protest of unfair working conditions, unfair financial payouts, and the threat of AI eliminating jobs, it’s preventing The Marvels‘ cast, particularly Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Teyonah Parris, from actively promoting it. That means no talk show appearances, no funny Hot Ones interviews, and zero viral TikTok dances.
Another far more likely theory is that no one really asked for a Captain Marvel sequel. While the film grossed over $1 billion when it was released in 2019, it has almost no cultural footprint or passionate goodwill in 2023. It served its purpose of connecting one Avengers movie to another, and set up Larson’s superhero as an effective, if dull, deus ex machina who helped take out the best villain Marvel has yet produced, Thanos.
But none of the movie’s many trailers, clips, and sneak peeks have convinced a disinterested audience that it has anything new to offer other than the usual CGI fight sequences, pointless Easter eggs that endlessly tease a new future project, or corny one-liners that are a dime a dozen nowadays.
All this points to a franchise low point, with The Marvels expecting to debut anywhere from $45 million to $70 million and complete its domestic run well under $200 million. That’s lower than Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which many thought was the the nadir for MCU movies. For a movie that costs around $250 million, it will need all the help it can get from overseas audiences to simply break even. Whatever happens, just don’t count on Captain Marvel 3 to ever see the light of day.
The Marvels is in theaters November 10.
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