It’s Official: Disney Audiences Prefer ‘Star Wars’ Over Marvel

in Entertainment, Marvel

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in the N1 Starfighter in 'The Mandalorian'

Credit: Lucasfilm

It seems like Disney+ subscribers are tuning into one of Disney’s mega-franchises over the other, according to some newly-released viewership figures from the House of Mouse itself.

The Avengers original lineup featuring Hulk, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, and Nick Fury
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Ever since Disney acquired Marvel Studios in 2009, the company has managed to develop the once-overlooked superhero franchise into a multi-billion dollar brand, with blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War (2017) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) being two of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

Along that same vein, Disney purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas for a record-breaking $4.05 billion back in 2012, kicking off what many consider to be one of the most controversial eras in Star Wars history — the Sequel Trilogy. Since then, under Disney’s watch, Lucasfilm has released numerous Disney+ TV shows and spinoff films, all to varying levels of success.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) in TROS
Credit: Lucasfilm

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But mixed reviews aside, Disney and Lucasfilm’s partnership has proved to be incredibly lucrative, with J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) crossing the $2 billion mark at the international box office and Disney+ series like The Mandalorian and the more recent Ahsoka bringing in millions of views — and therefore, subscribers — to the streaming service.

Today, you can’t go into any supermarket without seeing Baby Yoda’s adorable green face plastered on everything from backpacks to tee shirts to boxes of Go-Gurt (not to be confused with Grogu-Gurt), with Disney and Lucasfilm’s marketing team kicking it into high year to sell as much Mandalorian merch as humanly possible.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and the Child in THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. Credit: Lucasfilm
Credit: Lucasfilm

And Marvel isn’t much better. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) can be found in basically every toy aisle across the globe — not to mention the fact that Disney has constructed or has plans to build Avengers Campus themed areas in several of their parks, including Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris.

With this in mind, it’s clear that Disney wants both of these franchises to succeed and will go to, frankly, commendable lengths to advertise these brands in hopes of turning a profit. But below the surface, is Disney actually orchestrating some sort of competition between Star Wars and Marvel?

Credit: Marvel Studios

Well, according to a new press release shared by Disney’s streamer, it’s certainly possible. One franchise is reining supreme in the viewership charts thanks to shows like the third season of the Pedro Pascal-led smash hit Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian, which managed to attract more attention than the new season of a beloved MCU series.

Disney+ recently issued a rare statement to share viewership data for their latest buzz-worthy premiere, Season 2 of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki show. The MCU series, which first arrived on the streaming service in Summer 2021, still holds the crown — or rather, horned helmet — for the most-watched original show on Disney+, and so far, its sophomore season is proving to be just as successful.

President Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Credit: Marvel Studios
Credit: Marvel Studios

Picking up immediately after the events of Season 1, Loki Season 2 sees the titular God of Mischief recruiting the help of his old friend, TVA Agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson), Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku), and quirky repairman O.B. (Ke Huy Quan) to get to the bottom of a dangerous conspiracy surrounding Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) and the Sacred Timeline — all while hunting down his female variant, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino).

According to Disney’s press release, the Season 2 premiere of the Asgardian trickster’s solo series racked up an impressive 10.9 million views globally after three days of streaming on Disney+. 

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) in 'Loki' S2
Credit: Marvel Studios

It’s unusual for platforms like Disney+ to share viewership figures, but it’s become increasingly commonplace now due to media outlets and social media commentators painting shows and movies in a poor light, typically by comparing them to other unofficial “ratings” and rumored hours watched.

Interestingly enough, the debut of the MCU series — which returned last Thursday, October 5 — was behind only the Season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian, which hit Disney+ in March, and Ahsoka, which, according to Disney, garnered 14 million views in its first five days. Considering just how popular the first batch of Loki episodes were, this certainly speaks to The Mandalorian‘s quality and popularity and Ahsoka‘s unexpected success, given that the latter is still new to live-action projects.

Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) lifting her hood
Credit: Lucasfilm

It’s no secret that since appearing in 2011’s Thor, Loki has become one of the most beloved anti-heroes in the MCU, even managing to avoid his own canonized death(s) thanks to Marvel wanting to resurrect the character for his own Disney+ spinoff.

So, while most members of the nerd community would agree that there’s no need for competition, as there’s plenty of room for both franchises to succeed, it seems like Star Wars is still managing to get more eyes on its original series, which could prove Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger’s point that Marvel produced too many half-baked Disney+ series too soon, leaving fans with “superhero fatigue.”

Nick Fury shocked in Marvel's 'Secret Invasion'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Lucasfilm has generally taken its time releasing new projects, despite the latest seasons of Star Wars: The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian airing simultaneously at one point. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) also arrived in theaters just five months before Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), meaning fans haven’t experienced much of a dry spell since Disney attained the IP—but still, not nearly as intense as Marvel’s back-to-back release slate.

The combination of Star Wars generating more interest by spacing out their projects’ releases, generally giving their Disney+ shows higher budgets, and listening to fans by greenlighting multiple seasons of popular shows like Andor and The Mandalorian has undoubtedly set up Star Wars for success on the platform.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in 'Star Wars: Andor' (2022). Credit: Lucasfilm
Credit: Lucasfilm

Still, Lucasfilm has experienced a string of less-than-impressive Disney+ originals of their own, from the ill-fated Willow, which was a victim of the service’s historic content purge, to the poorly-reviewed Book of Boba Fett, to the divisive Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, all of which put a bad taste in fans’ mouths.

Marvel hasn’t exactly batted a perfect average, but with Loki Season 2 earning rave reviews from audiences on top of highly-rated earlier entries such as WandaVision, the MCU could run circles around Star Wars if they play their cards right. Only time will tell which franchise will come out on top.

The next episode of Loki lands on Disney+ this Thursday, October 12, at 6 p.m. PT.

What do you think of Loki Season 2 falling short of The Mandalorian in terms of viewership? Did you enjoy the premiere? Let us know in the comments below!

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