This Is Why ‘The Marvels’ Was Destined To Flop

in Marvel

Captain Marvel with Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau

Credit: Marvel Studios

Has Marvel lost its cinematic crown? The past few months suggest that the answer is ‘yes.’

The once-untouchable studio has failed to consistently strike gold in 2023. While Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (2023) was a hit with audiences and critics alike, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) earned itself the unwanted title of Marvel’s biggest box office bomb ever – and that’s in spite of the endless charm of its leading man, Paul Rudd.

Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Chris Hemsworth Knows Why ‘Ant-Man 3’ Flopped

It didn’t fare much better on the small screen. This year, the Marvel Disney+ series Secret Invasion became its worst-reviewed project ever, with a finale that left some viewers denouncing the Marvel Cinematic Universe altogether.

Can ‘The Marvels’ Save the MCU?

While the studio surely hopes to turn the tides with its next release, some fans aren’t so sure. The Marvels (2023) will drop in November and is set to see Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), team up with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) to determine why the three are swapping places every time they use their powers. The Marvel movie will also see Zawe Ashton debut as the Kree general (and the film’s villain) Dar-Benn.

The first reactions to its trailers have been pretty strong. Its director, Nia DaCosta, is also incredibly enthusiastic about telling more Captain Marvel stories in the future. However, there are rumblings within the MCU fanbase that The Marvels may not save the franchise but flop so hard that it tanks it altogether.

Update 11/21: It’s safe to say that The Marvels was indeed a flop. The film has currently made $161.5 million, making the odds of breaking even very slim. Here are all the reasons why we always knew The Marvels would bomb at the box office.

It’s Already Lost IMAX Theaters

IMAX isn’t the be-all, end-all of a film’s release. However, it does play a pretty significant role in its status. That’s why Tom Cruise was reportedly so peeved by Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (2023) hogging IMAX theaters this summer, stealing screens from Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) – and why we can imagine that Marvel is pretty irritated by the latest news suggesting that Dune 2 (2023) will do the same to The Marvels.

Kamala Khan, Monica Rambeau, and Brie Larson fighting in 'The Marvels'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Brie Larson Is Reportedly Done With ‘Captain Marvel’

Dune 2 has reportedly secured an exclusivity deal with IMAX. The film – which stars the likes of Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, and Florence Pugh and is directed by Denis Villeneuve – will debut in IMAX theaters on November 3, 2023. It will then have a minimum of four weeks of exclusivity, meaning no other movie can be shown in IMAX during that time.

Unfortunately, that means no IMAX theaters left for The Marvels, which is due for release on November 10, 2023. For moviegoers who prefer the ultimate immersive theater experience, it remains to be seen just how much this will impact audience interest in seeing the film.

Note: Since this article was first published, Dune 2 has been rescheduled to a March 2024 release due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. This has opened up IMAX screens for The Marvels (although it may have to split them with Taylor Swift and the Eras Tour movie).

Fan Reactions to Brie Larson

It’s no secret that Brie Larson isn’t the most popular figure within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A certain demographic of Marvel fans has developed a (pretty unjustified) grudge against the Oscar-winning actress since she became Carol Danvers.

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel with her hands on her hips in 'The Marvels'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Brie Larson Set Up as the MCU’s New Robert Downey Jr.

Despite the fact that Captain Marvel made over $1 billion at the box office, it frequently appears low in the rankings of the franchise’s films. While some critiques are fair – yes, the plot is pretty slow at times – none of the film’s flaws are down to Brie Larson.

The most likely explanation for the dissent toward Larson is, whether most fans want to admit it or not, sexism. Female characters and their actors are typically the most harshly critiqued in big fandoms (to prove this point, all we need to do is bring up Rey in Star Wars). In the words of Samuel L Jackson on Larson’s haters, they may just be “incel dudes who hate strong women.”

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) in 'Captain Marvel,' which was far from a flop at the box office
Credit: Marvel Studios

There were over 20 male-led Marvel Studios movies before Captain Marvel. Each had its own flaws, but none received the same level of granular criticism. While Captain Marvel does have her defenders, it seems pretty likely that this part of the fandom will once again try to sabotage the film and make The Marvels flop.

Too Many Storylines

Which Marvel movies and TV shows do you need to have seen to understand what’s going on in The Marvels? To be honest, probably all of them – which means nine TV shows, 32 films, and a bajillion post-credit scenes.

Giah with a Drax arm
Credit: Marvel Studios

A lot has been said about the increasing complexity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The truth is that 15 years after Iron Man (2008) kicked off the franchise, the Multiverse Saga has too much lore and way too many characters for casual fans to dip in and out at their pleasure. That puts a lot of people off buying a ticket to catch up on the latest installment, especially when cinema is suffering from superhero film fatigue.

Disney CEO Bob Iger himself is aware of the saturated Marvel market right now. He confirmed earlier this year that the studio would cut down on projects to focus on quality over quantity. In the meantime, however, fans apparently need to have seen Secret Invasion before the film – and just how badly it was received by fans – it may be that the Marvel universe is finally too much homework for most viewers to take on.

Secret Invasion Was a Flop

That brings us to our next point. Audiences famously hated Secret Invasion. No spoilers here, but two twists in the last Secret Invasion episode of the Disney+ series have made The Avengers look like a joke and retconned one of the franchise’s most beloved characters.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury looking to the sky in 'Secret Invasion'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: 7 Reasons Why Marvel’s ‘Secret Invasion’ Flopped

These kinds of twists tend to leave a bad taste in the mouths of viewers who’ve dedicated years to a fandom. They’re also not easily forgotten. While the disappointments of Secret Invasion may not impact other, more unrelated entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is set to play a key role in the film. Fresh off seeing (and hating) a TV series where Nick Fury played such an integral role, the question is whether fans will skip The Marvels and let it flop to try and forget those storylines altogether.

Review-Bombing

Captain Marvel was review-bombed to no end. The Marvels trailer was like-bombed for being “woke” – by which we mean featuring women and people of color, which is what led to similar reactions to The Little Mermaid (2023) and Black Panther (2018).

Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and Monica Rambeau on 'The Marvels' poster
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Op-Ed – Marvel’s Female Fans Could Save the MCU, If Only It Would Let Them

We can imagine this pattern continuing for the film itself. Reading a negative review famously puts audiences off seeing a film. While we doubt that this next review bombing campaign will be very sophisticated – the majority just tend to be one-star reviews with little to no actual analysis besides the odd “I hate Brie Larson for no apparent reason” – the sheer magnitude may be enough to negatively impact the film and cause The Marvels to flop.

The SAG-AFTRA Strike

By the time The Marvels is released, SAG-AFTRA will have been on strike for four months. While The Walt Disney Company and other studios are still in ongoing discussions with the union, it seems unlikely that a deal will be struck before the film’s release date.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) flying with Goose in 'The Marvels,' which has flopped at the box office
Credit: Marvel Studios

As a result, it’ll be forced to undergo a press tour without its stars. Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Teyonah Parris are all unable to promote the film as per union rules. Considering how aggressive Kevin Feige and the studio typically are with their marketing, there’s every chance that this could be detrimental to its performance at the box office and add another entry to the ongoing list of Marvel flops.

Note: On November 8, 2023, SAG-AFTRA announced the end of the strike after reaching an agreement with the AMPTP. This allowed the film’s stars to promote the film – albeit, with just two days to go until it hit theaters.

Do you think The Marvels will flop? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments!

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