Are people sick of superheroes, and could Marvel snap away for good?
The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Marvel Studios has brought about something truly unique (and successful). For decades, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) under Kevin Feige’s arguably masterful control has led to an onslaught of mega-blockbusters and industry-redefining international movie-going experiences.
A key example of this is the record-breaking Avengers franchise, which began with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers (2012) establishing the original six Avengers — starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk), Tom Hiddleston (Loki Laufeyson/Loki Odinson), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury). The Avengers was iconic, setting a new standard for bringing multiple films together into the same “cinematic universe”. Solo films like Iron Man (2008) may have paved the way, but the MCU has ballooned to truly epic proportions in 2022 — and perhaps people are getting a little sick of it nearly 15 years down the line.
It feels like a whole lifetime away since the explosive cinematic success of the Avengers franchise overtook James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) as the highest-grossing film of all time (something James Cameron was definitely not too happy about). Many agree that Marvel Studios’ reached its peak with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga”, with Joe and Anthony Russo-directed Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) respectively creating an almost year-long movie-going phenomenon the world over.
Now, with the end of Marvel Studios’ Phase Four with King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) send-off Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) directed by Ryan Coogler (the film doing pretty darn well at the box office), audiences and Marvel fans still have the promised Phase Five and Phase Six of the MCU to look forward to — at least, for now. Labelled by Kevin Feige as the Multiverse Saga (check out our “Secret Wars” story breakdown here) the story will culminate in the absolutely insane fifth and sixth Avengers films, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2025) and Avengers: Secret Wars (2026), respectively. But what happens after, provided audiences stick around?
People have already been complaining about “superhero fatigue”, a kind of burnout due to the oversaturation in the market when it comes to superhero stories — a genre that has proved ridiculously popular with theater-goers of all ages, for nigh over a decade. Now, the longevity of franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be in jeopardy — and the Marvel Studios higher ups have something to say about it.
Speaking to podcast The Town with Matthew Belloni, Marvel Studios long-time producer (and Vice President of Production & Development) Nate Moore has come forward with his thoughts regarding the end of the MCU.
In response to the question of whether “Marvel will go on forever”, and if the Marvel movies will “finally end”, Moore replies:
I mean, I think it can go for a long time. I think we have to continue to… We can’t sit back on our laurels. We can’t think we have the answers. We have to continue to push the envelope as far as genre and what we’re willing to explore.
Moore continues, likening Marvel movies to “movies about books” — a type of media that is in his eyes, eternal:
But to me, Marvel movies are just movies. Our source material is just… It’d be like saying, ‘Hey, are movies about books gonna go on forever?’ Probably.
Belloni of the podcast then brings up the cinematic “fads” of years past, questioning if the MCU will ever fall into those categories.
He specifically refers to Westerns and Musicals, which once had their time in the sun. Moore then offers:
But, they came… it’s cyclical, right? Things come back. I think we can go for a while. We have a lot of great stuff in the pipeline and stuff, honestly, we can’t find room for. One of the great things about Disney+ was, we got to tell stories that we were like, ‘I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to tell that story.’ And now, we’re like, ‘Oh, we have another outlet?’ Because, we don’t wanna make ten movies a year. That’s gonna be bad. Moon Knight, for instance. We’ve been talking about Moon Knight for a long time and it just couldn’t get on the slate ’cause there’s too much stuff. But all of a sudden, we have a secondary outlet where we could tell six hours of a cool Moon Knight story that otherwise doesn’t exist. And I think there are a lot of other properties that we haven’t had a chance to tell. So, I think it can go on for a while, forever’s a long time. We certainly don’t feel like we’re done.
With the people over at DC poaching longtime Marvel director James Gunn as their new creative lead, as well as Warner Bros. Discovery’s plan for a 10 year Marvel copycat roadmap with the DC Universe (DCU), it seems like the market is going to become even more saturated than it already is. However, the people over at Marvel Studios definitely don’t seem to think their franchise can end — but will audiences agree?
Only time will tell if the Marvel Cinematic Universe will stand up to the test.
What do you think about superhero fatigue and the MCU? Will it last “forever”? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Right now Marvel fans can enjoy other MCU favorites such as Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson) in Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), as well as Disney+ Originals Moon Knight (2022) and Ms. Marvel (2022), led by Marvel newcomers Oscar Isaac (Marc Spector/Moon Knight) and Iman Vellani (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel) respectively. Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe wraps things up with Tatiana Maslany as the eponymous She-Hulk: Attorney at Law that debuted August 18, 2022, and Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa send-off Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in theaters November 11, 2022.