Marvel Studios is in Trouble.
After watching Netflix’s Defenders, Jessica Jones, the back six episodes of Luke Cage Iron Fist, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming it’s clear to me that there’s a serious quality control issue regarding their productions. And if Disney doesn’t take a minute to correct course on Phase 3, the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may come sooner rather than later.
Plain and simple Marvel is putting quantity over quality these days. Instead of taking their time and producing out one or two quality films over the course of a year, they’re rushing out three or four movies and three or four Netflix Television shows. That’s way too much product to come out over the course of a year.
With the oversaturation of product has come a clear decline in quality. These days Marvel Studios products are nowhere near as good as they were in 2008 when Iron Man debuted, and in 2010 when Captain: America: The First Avenger came to theaters. Instead of well-crafted films that are true to the source material, producers are making compromises like they did with Spider-Man: Homecoming, focusing on too much humor like they did in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, letting half-assed scripts pass like they did with Luke Cage’s Back six and miscasting actors like Finn Jones as Iron Fist.
Thanks to the saturation of so much Marvel product in a calendar year the audience is starting to get tired. Yes, people like superhero movies. But Marvel Studios has released so many products at such a breakneck pace that it’s getting harder and harder for the audience to consume it all. Viewers need a break between the movies and the Netflix shows to digest it all. But Marvel Studios continues to churn out product hoping to make short dollars at the long-term expense of the brand.
Yeah, Marvel Studios movies like Spider-Man Homecoming and Guardians 2 open big. But lately they’ve dropped off as much as 50-75% in the second and third weekends. And shows like Defenders premiere big. But once the word of mouth from all the bad reviews gets around people stop watching. That’s not good for the long-term of the Marvel Studios brand and the Marvel brand at Disney.
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is a chain of stories. And all it takes is a few weak links to break the chain and have fans walking away for good. I’ve been seeing hairline fractures form in links since Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. And the links of Jessica Jones, Cage’s back six, Iron Fist, Guardians 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Defenders are so brittle that it looks like the chain is going to snap when the weight of Thor: Ragnorok, Black Panther, Ant-Man & The Wasp and Avengers: Infinity War are added to it.
As I see it, Marvel Studios really needs to SLOW IT DOWN. In the entertainment business LESS IS MORE. And a few well-crafted films and TV shows can sell better than a dozen poorly made ones. Thanks to the disastrous year Marvel has had regarding quality I’m actually starting to see weak spots in the Marvel Studios machine. Too bad Warner Brothers can’t get anything off the ground related to its DC Comics Film adaptations. The opportunity is RIGHT THERE for them to capitalize on and the best they have to offer is a sucktacular Justice League.
At this point I believe the right indie studio with the right project could actually give Marvel Studios a serious run for its money. A quirky small indie film, a teen movie, a romantic comedy, a human drama, or some original fantasy of sci-fi franchise could actually wrest a #1 box office spot from a Marvel Studios film next year. Black Panther, Ant Man & The Wasp and even the $500 million dollar Avengers: Infinity War are all vulnerable at this point. And smart studio executives should no longer be scared of having their films compete with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. With the audience fatigue from all the Superhero movies and TV shows one great small film could take them down.
Marvel Studios is in trouble. Will some executive at one of the other Big Six studios take advantage of their weakness? Time will only tell.