“Superhero Fatigue” Is Disney’s Latest Big Screen Villain
You either die a superhero or produce enough multiverse films to turn into Disney. Since Iron Man’s 2008 debut, Marvel fans have always expected their favorite superheroes to come to the rescue — but now, it’s the savior who needs saving.
Today, Disney’s 33rd super-film, The Marvels, hits theaters. But the film’s box office projections have repeatedly been downgraded, with expectations now pegged at just $60M upon its debut — marking one of the weakest openings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) history.
The Incredibles (Syndrome) once said: “When everyone’s super, no one will be.” In 2019, Marvel Studios Head Kevin Feige told Harvard Business Review that Marvel’s success comes from “not simply following a pattern or a mold or formula.” However, audiences seem to be turning away, and reviewers blame its increasing predictability (NYT).
- The MCU has grossed over $29.6B for Disney — an average of $935M per film — but the studio’s last five releases have underperformed, bringing in 17% less than the franchise average.
- Disney’s CEO Bob Iger promised to cut back on Star Wars and Marvel content, citing “superhero fatigue” — instead,opting for multi-season shows over standalone films or limited series.
Hey, can I copy your homework?
Just don’t make it too obvious. Everybody wants a successful cinematic universe (and the profits that come with it). Warner Bros Discovery’s (NASDAQ:WBD) DC Comics has been throwing darts with its own super-verse, including heroes like Batman and Superman, but has only accumulated $6.7B in box office revenue. While Barbie’s $1.44B box office success and The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s $1.36B monster performance have their respective owners craving more:
- Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) teased 14 new films based on franchises like Barney, Thomas and Friends and American Girl.
- Nintendo (OTC:NTDOY) announced plans for a Legend of Zelda live-action and is setting up 10 potential movie franchises, including Yoshi, Starfox and Luigi’s Mansion.
DC has been struggling with flop after flop trying to emulate Disney — but Mattel and Nintendo still have a chance to carve their own path in the hero’s journey. All they have to do is not screw it up.