Marvel was once one of the greatest superhero studios of all time. Rising to ubiquity in its early years, the studio that started with Iron Man (2008) soon became an industry giant by the time The Avengers was released in 2012.

Although the studio has had its ups and downs, and its weak movies as well as its strong, theres no doubt that Marvel movies leading up to Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019) were some of the biggest blockbuster hits of all time. Unfortunately, it seems as though the studio lost its stride after Endgame, as fan-favorite characters like Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) were killed off, and then Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) decided to retire the shield.

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Fans argued that Marvel perhaps should have left the Avengers’ storyline after Endgame in order to focus on other Marvel characters, like changing Shang-Chi, or the newly acquired Deadpool and Daredevil. Fans have also recently begun to complain about overall superhero fatigue, and Marvel fatigue in particular, as the amount of projects released by the studio seems to be almost nonstop in the years following Endgame and the 2020 pandemic.

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Although Marvel has had some incredible hits since 2020, including Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2021), and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), most of their films released in the last three years have been pretty disappointing.

Due to various complaints, several of Marvel’s anticipated projects for 2023 and 2024 were delayed and the ongoing Hollywood strikes haven’t helped matters much either. Perhaps that’s for the best though, as many of their recent releases have been disappointing to the point of failure.

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Black Widow (2021)

Black Widow was finally Johansson’s standalone film. It starred Johansson reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff and introduced Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova and David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian. However, it was the first Marvel film to be released after the COVID-19 pandemic, and was released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+, which could have affected its performance in theaters.

Although the film performed well upon its initial release, both with the box office and with critics, Black Widow has often been considered one of the MCU’s worst films. Natasha was a popular character with fans since getting a bigger role in The Avengers and featuring in many of the subsequent films. Her death in Endgame was one of the most controversial considering how important and beloved she had become.

Giving her a solo film that finally revealed her backstory two years after her in-universe death just didn’t have the same effect with fans as it might have if it had been released prior to Endgame. However, it did introduce fans to Yelena and the Red Guardian, who are both major characters in the upcoming Thunderbolts film.

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Eternals (2021)

Eternals starred Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kit Harrington as Dan Whitman, Salma Hayek as Ajak, and Angelina Jolie as Thena, with a cameo appearance by Harry Styles. By all means, with such a stacked cast, it should have been a knock out hit for the studio. However, although the film amassed over $162 million globally during its opening weekend, the film has been largely forgotten by fans.

The film would receive a critic score of 47% on Rotten Tomatoes and was one of the lowest-rated MCU films upon its release. Whether its problems could be attributed to the fact that it was released during the middle of the COVID pandemic or the fact that it was a completely new and different cast of characters and actors, the film just didn’t have the impact the studio expected it would.

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Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder was the fourth installment in the Thor franchise, and the second to be directed by Taika Waititi. Waititi previously directed Thor: Ragnarok (2017), which had received much praise from fans and critics. Ragnarok took a different approach to the God of Thunder than the first two films, leaning heavily into ’80s camp and humor rather than the dark and serious tones of the prior installments.

Waititi attempted to recreate the success of Ragnarok with Love and Thunder by again using ’80s stylizing, humor, and bright colors to tell his story. Unfortunately, Love and Thunder was a major disappointment to Marvel fans and faced backlash for including too much humor and a storyline that was all over the place.

It seemed as though Love and Thunder relied too heavily on the camp and fun factor without providing enough substance, and it’s become one of the most criticized MCU films, even compared to Thor: The Dark World (2013). Despite that, Waititi has stated he would love to direct another installment despite Chris Hemsworth being unsure if he’ll return as the God of Thunder.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was the first film in Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the third installment of the Ant-Man franchise and further introduced Jonathan Majors‘ Kang the Conquerer as the next big threat to the Avengers. Fans were excited at the prospect of seeing Majors take on the role after his chilling reveal in Loki Season 1, especially as it had already been revealed that he would take center stage in Avengers: The Kang Dynastyoriginally expected to be released in 2026.

Unfortunately, Majors would soon be hit with serious allegations, causing fans to turn on him and question his future with Marvel. Although these allegations came out after the film’s release, it only served to further mar the film’s reputation.

Quantumania suffered from poor visual effects and a convoluted storyline. Fans questioned the film’s resolution, demanding to know how a Kang variant was defeated when he’s supposed to be the most powerful villain the Avengers have faced. Overall, it failed to set up the stakes of Phase Five and was a disappointing addition. Eventually, the film literally would become Marvel’s worst-performing, seeing the worst drop during its second weekend of any Marvel Cinematic Universe film prior and being one of the lowest rated Marvel films on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Secret Invasion (2023)

Although not a film, Secret Invasion is last, but not least, on the list of Marvel’s recent failures. It was originally highly-anticipated, featuring Samuel L. Jackson returning as Nick Fury in a series that would put the spotlight on the Avengers mastermind. It would also serve as a sort of sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel and set up the events of the upcoming The Marvels (2023).

However, it faced troubles even before its release, with a series of delays and consistently changing release dates. When it finally premiered in June 2023, it was immediately slammed for its use of AI-created art in its opening sequence. The series was released right at the start of the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike, which focused heavily on the use of artificial intelligence in the film and television industry.

The series also suffered from poor VFX, poor storylines, and outraged fans with a shock twist that negatively affected the events after the death of Iron Man. While many of the MCU series released to Disney+ have been disappointing in the last year, Secret Invasion has been widely regarded as the worst.

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Hopefully, Marvel Studios can learn from its recent disappointments, and build the Marvel Cinematic Universe back up to what it once was at the height of its popularity. The studio had already announced it would be delaying several of its projects prior to the Hollywood strikes, and it’s unclear exactly how its future release schedule has been affected.

Fortunately, this gives Kevin Feige and the rest of the Marvel Studios team time to figure out how to get back to the heart of the movies and what the fans love.

Do you agree with this list? What would you say Marvel’s biggest failures are? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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