Disney CEO Bob Iger Gets Support From Two Marvel Icons Amid MCU Reboot

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A large group of the Avengers making a stand in Endgame

Credit: Marvel Studios

Earlier this year, The Walt Disney Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Bob Iger, went on record and said that superhero fatigue was not at the root of Marvel Studios’ problems. Now, two Marvel Cinematic Universe icons have joined with the CEO and said it’s the time we live in that is to blame for the current woes.

Thanos (Josh Brolin) looking dismayed at the climax of Avengers: Endgame
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios, under the careful leadership of Kevin Feige, has established an interconnected franchise that has never before been seen in pop culture. Inspired by the decades of Marvel Comics storytelling, the MCU began with a relatively lesser-known character in 2008’s Iron Man.

This was a big change from the likes of the X-Men, Hulk, and Spider-Man, who had previously been the focus of previous Marvel feature films. Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, along with its charismatic leading man Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, proved to be the secret sauce in launching a huge intertwined universe.

Robert Downey Jr. in an iron man suit with the helmet partially open, revealing their face.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Since 2008, there have been 33 MCU feature films, with 2021 introducing the television side of the MCU, including limited series and TV specials under the Marvel Special Presentations banner–a banner that has seemingly become defunct.

Now in Phase Five, Marvel’s blockbuster franchise has more often than not been well-received. The climax of Phase Three proved to be the most lucrative for the studio, with Anthony and Joe Russo returning to helm the two-part Avengers finale–Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). The pair previously directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War (2016).

The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) with a gun
Credit: Marvel Studios

Collectively, Infinity War and Endgame grossed over $5 billion, with the latter becoming the second highest-grossing movie of all time. Five years later, with criticism lobbied at the MCU with more gusto than ever before, many fans wonder if Marvel should have ended the franchise after Endgame.

Now, the men behind the beloved Avengers movies have weighed in on the current debate regarding superhero content in 2024 and the MCU’s recent poor performance.

Iron Man's side hero lineup during Captain America: Civil War, (left to right) Black Panther, Vision, Iron Man, Black Widow, and War Machine
Credit: Marvel Studios

“I think it’s a reflection of the current state of everything,” Joe Russo told GamesRadar+. “It’s difficult right now, it’s an interesting time. I think we’re in a transitional period, and people don’t know quite yet how they’re going to receive stories moving forward or what kinds of stories they’re going to want.”

It’s true that the explosion of at-home services like Disney+ has changed the landscape of how audiences consume media. As seen time and time again, films may have a lukewarm reception at the box office but will become hugely popular when released on the small screen.

Asha and her friends mirror the seven dwarves in Wish
Credit: Disney

Take Disney Animation’s Wish (2023); the centennial movie did not strike big bucks in theaters, but on Disney+, Wish became the third biggest opening for the streamer, following Frozen II (2019) and Encanto (2021).

“There’s a big generational divide about how you consume media, the director and producer continues. “There’s a generation that’s used to appointment viewing and going to a theater on a certain date to see something, but it’s [aging] out. Meanwhile, the new generation are ‘I want it now, I want to process it now’, then moving on to the next thing…”

The Russo brother attributes this way of thinking to Marvel, saying that the studio is also navigating this transforming landscape of media consumption and that it is this, not fatigue, that is affecting the franchise.

Wasp and Ant-Man looking scared and hurt in the Quantum Realm
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Directors Weigh in on ‘Winter Soldier’ as Marvel Reveals Sebastian Stan’s Replacement

These comments echo the ones Bob Iger made at this year’s Morgan Stanley Conference, where he said that audience fatigue is not the problem; it’s a case of the lack of great movies. It’s no secret that Iger has been critical of Marvel Studios upon his return as CEO. He previously questioned the need for multiple sequels featuring the same characters.

For a long time, the notion of superhero fatigue has been the main talking point when looking at the MCU’s recent woes.

With a constant stream of content hitting both the big and small screen consistently over the last three years and increasing pressure to stay up to date on the workings of the interconnected universe (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was a direct sequel to Disney+’s WandaVision, for example), audiences have begun to switch off.

Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel Confirms They Are Redesigning the Scarlet Witch After ‘Doctor Strange 2’ Exit

This was never clearer than last year when Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and The Marvels (2023) dramatically bombed at the box office; the latter proved to be Marvel Studios’ worst-performing movie of all time.

Disney and Marvel, Iger and Feige, have seemingly concocted a plan to resurrect interest in the MCU.

In reducing the content output, this year just Deadpool & Wolverine (2024) will be released in movie theaters (and is said to reboot the MCU), and establishing the Marvel Spotlight banner, which executive Brad Winderbaum said will allow stories to exist out of the current events, and thus entice more casual viewers, the studio still has hold of the wheel.

The Avengers (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow)
Credit: Marvel Studios

As for the Russo Brothers, there is no current plan to bring the pair back to the MCU anytime soon. Michael Waldron is penning the script for both Avengers 5 (2026) and Avengers: Secret Wars (2027), but no directors have been revealed. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) director Destin Daniel Cretton was once attached to helm Avengers 5–formerly Avengers: The Kang Dynastybut exited the project in November 2023.

Their collaboration with Disney is not at its end, though. The Russos will be producing the House of Mouse’s upcoming live-action remake of Hercules, which is directed by Aladdin‘s Guy Ritchie. So far, no casting has been announced, but multiple reports suggest that Disney wants a person of color to play the titular Greek god, and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan has been floated as a name to possibly take on the role.

What do you think is the problem with the MCU? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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