The MCU’s 2023 releases received low critical scores and had the franchise’s worst box office performance, indicating a decline in its popularity. The narratives of the MCU movies are becoming stale, following the same formula that has been successful for years. The multiverse storyline renders individual projects less impactful, and 2023 wasted exciting sequel teases by failing to live up to their predecessors.

Looking back over the many entries released into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2023 highlights a handful of harsh realities about the franchise. Over the course of 2023, there were multiple releases of movies and TV shows in the MCU, all of which furthered the franchise’s ongoing story. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and The Marvels all continued to explore the exploits of previously established heroes, while Loki season 2 saw the continuation of the previous season’s TVA story. Secret Invasion loosely adapted the comic book arc of the same name, chronicling a plot by rebel Skrulls to trigger nuclear war on Earth.

Despite several highly anticipated releases, 2023 was not the MCU’s most successful year. In fact, it saw the franchise break a handful of unwanted MCU records, including low critical scores and the franchise’s worst ever box office take. Reviewing the releases of 2024 makes a few things seem clear about the franchise’s current state, including several ongoing problems and one or two major concerns for its future. As the MCU heads towards a critical juncture involving its Multiverse Saga, there are a number of hard truths it must confront. Here are 10 harsh realities of rewatching the MCU’s 2023 releases.


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10 The MCU Has Started To Falter in 2023

2023’s MCU Releases Haven’t All Been Well-Received

For many years, the MCU has thoroughly dominated the box office. This, combined with the continued popularity of its movies and TV shows, gave the franchise an aura of the infallible, but 2023 has proved this to be untrue. The three movies of the MCU released in 2023 highlight that the franchise may no longer be the unstoppable force it once was, as both Quantumania and The Marvels failed to impress critics, and the latter proved something of a box office bust. Combined with Secret Invasion’s record-breaking low critical review scores, 2023 showed that the MCU may well be on the decline.

9 The MCU’s Narratives Are Growing Stale

MCU Stories Follow The Same Basic Formula

Another concerning factor of the MCU’s 2023 releases was the way in which they mostly failed to distinguish themselves from previous releases. Over the MCU’s movie timeline, the franchise has developed a seemingly foolproof formula for successful superhero stories, but 2023 indicates that change may be needed. The likes of Quantumania and The Marvels were seen as somewhat bland and predictable, still using the same basic format that the franchise has employed for over a decade. Though this formula is what made the MCU successful, it would appear that change is now required after an underwhelming response to 2023’s releases.

8 Secret Invasion Created Too Many Problems

The MCU Wasted One Of Its Most Exciting Storylines

Secret Invasion may well be the MCU’s biggest disappointment of 2023, simply because of the way in which it failed to deliver on its promise. The much-anticipated Disney+ series had been tipped as one of the MCU’s most exciting stories to date, but its release saw this fall flat, earning the ire of critics and audiences alike. The series simply failed to live up to its potential, as despite its intriguing premise its story was filled with plot holes and inconsistencies. In this, what could have been one of 2023’s best releases actually turned out to cause far more problems for the MCU than expected.

7 The Multiverse Renders Most Stories Redundant

The Scope Of The Multiverse Saga Makes Individual Projects Seem Inconsequential

2023 saw the MCU continue to build upon its Multiverse Saga narrative, exploring multiversal threats and complex timeline-related issues. However, one of the harshest realities facing the franchise is how this story arc affects the MCU’s individual projects. As the Multiverse Saga comes with massive stakes involving the infinite scope of the multiverse, stories set in just one timeline seem far less impactful by comparison. The overwhelming size of the multiverse subtly renders other MCU stories less effective, as the likes of Secret Invasion proved far more trivial than that of Loki season 2.

6 2023 Wasted Several Exciting Sequel Teases

Multiple 2023 Sequels Failed To Live Up To Their Predecessors

Of the three MCU movies released in 2023, all were sequels. However, two of them clearly failed to live up to the quality of their predecessors, despite boasting interesting premises. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania formally introduced Kang the Conqueror and took a closer look at the Quantum Realm, while The Marvels teased an interesting power-swapping narrative involving newer heroes. Both Quantumania and The Marvels were considered underwhelming, wasting their potential and failing to capitalize on the previous success of their protagonists. This seems to be a concern for the MCU’s future, as even bankable heroes failed to achieve success in 2023’s releases.

5 2023 Saw The MCU’s CGI Issues Get Worse

The MCU’s Extensive Use Of CGI Marks A Worrying Trend

An ongoing issue in the MCU is its use of CGI, which has faced a good deal of criticism in recent years. 2023 saw the issue worsen, with the majority of MCU releases judged harshly for the use of unconvincing CGI. Secret Invasion proved a particularly prominent offender, with its climactic battle ridiculed for its use of digital effects. The Marvels also came under fire for similar issues, while Quantumania’s CGI-heavy premise contributed to middling critical reviews. The MCU’s CGI woes have been building for some time, and 2023 simply saw them go from bad to worse.

4 The MCU’s 2023 Release Connections Weren’t Used Properly

2023’s Stories Were More Disconnected Than They Should Have Been

Perhaps one of the most obvious concerning factors about the MCU’s 2023 releases is the way in which they shirked any significant connections with previous projects. Secret Invasion’s ending fed directly into The Marvels, but the movie made no real mention of the events of the show. Loki and Quantumania were also inherently linked, but the connections were played down. This contributed to the growing disconnect between MCU projects, tarnishing its reputation as one of the most ambitious shared universes in pop culture by isolating individual stories.

3 The MCU’s New Narrative Arc Is Less Exciting Than Its Predecessor

The Multiverse Saga Isn’t Living Up To The Infinity Saga (Yet)

Something that was made abundantly clear by the MCU’s 2023 releases is that the franchise’s Multiverse Saga narrative simply isn’t as exciting as the Infinity Saga was. Where the previous arc was a thread that ran through almost every release in Phases 2 and 3 of the MCU, the multiverse has so far only really been used to facilitate cameos and introduce new characters rather than build to an epic finale in Avengers: Secret Wars. Of course, there’s still time for this to be rectified, but as of 2023’s releases, the MCU appears to be wasting the potential of the Multiverse Saga.

2023’s Sequel Teases Will All Take Years To Pay Off

A particularly frustrating element of the MCU’s 2023 releases involves the franchise’s future, as it appears that none of the stories teased will come to pass for several years. It’s unclear when any of 2023’s sequel teases will actually come to fruition, as the projects set up include a New Guardians movie, the introduction of the X-Men, and a story involving humanity going to war with the Skrulls. This contributes to the notion that the MCU has begun to spread itself too thin: rather than the direct teases of its early days, the franchise is now setting up projects years in advance, and expecting fans to simply wait for the payoff.

Important MCU Characters Have Been Conspicuously Absent

Though it may seem largely inconsequential, another frustrating reality of the MCU in 2023 is how it ignored most of its existing heroes. The likes of Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Hulk, Captain America, Shang-Chi, and the Eternals were not mentioned, despite the fact that their stories are all ongoing within the franchise. This only adds to the growing disconnect between the MCU’s many projects, highlighting yet another of the harsh realities about the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Key Release Dates

Deadpool 3

Captain America: Brave New World

Marvel’s Fantastic Four

Marvel’s Thunderbolts

Blade (2025)

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

Avengers: Secret Wars

 2023’s releases saw many MCU problems.  Read More