The Marvels is predicted to have a lower box office reception than 2019’s Captain Marvel, but it may not be due to superhero fatigue. Captain Marvel hasn’t established itself as a strong brand within the MCU like the other Avengers, with Kamala Khan and Photon coming in late in the game. The MCU brand isn’t as strong as it was pre-pandemic, which may be informing The Marvels’ opening weekend projection, among other factors.

The Marvels is the next movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but despite its name, it’s not projected to be a major moment in the shared universe. Promoted as a sort of light, airy affair, this less-than-pivotal nature is likely a big part of why the movie’s box office predictions are so low. This suggests that concerns over “superhero fatigue” are legitimate, though there might be something more to it.

The Marvel brand as a whole has seen better days, with some finding less interest in the MCU than before the end of the Infinity Saga. Conversely, timing is a huge issue with the movie, and it’s arguably the reverse of the first Captain Marvel movie. With both films simply coming too late in the MCU’s history, it’s no surprise that the new movie isn’t able to coast off past successes and generate much interest.

The Marvels Is Set to Continue the MCU’s Downward Trajectory

Brie Larson Reportedly ‘Disillusioned’ With Captain Marvel Following Online Comments

It’s inarguable that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a lot less consumer interest since the release of Avengers: Endgame. Given the name and the sense of closure given by the movie, it was an obvious jumping off point for many, especially given the death of Iron Man. Since then, very few Marvel movies have been able to achieve the same success as past films, though part of that was of course due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even then, Sony co-production Spider-Man: No Way Home was the main highlight in terms of both critical and financial success, with the movie making nearly $2 billion USD worldwide amid the onslaught of the coronavirus.

The only other Marvel Studios movies to get anywhere near this level of success were Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and the somber Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Even then, they all came short of a billion dollars at the box office, with Wakanda Forever seeing a fairly noticeably drop from the first movie. This can definitely be felt with The Marvels, which is currently set to have one of the worst opening weekend box office hauls for an MCU movie yet. This is only compounded by the movie’s worrying budget, which is far more than the initially reported $130 million.

Instead, it’s far closer to nearly $300 million USD, making the movie’s unlikely path to profitability an uphill battle. This comes after release of movies such as Thor: Love & Thunder and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, as well as Disney+ TV shows like Secret Invasion. These all had particularly poor reception among fans and critics, with the deluge of mixed quality Marvel Studios content having the effect of sullying the brand’s reputation. Thus, The Marvels is now reaping the fruits sewn by these previous lackluster productions, which isn’t helped by its rather underdeveloped brand power.

The Marvels Brand Isn’t One of the MCU’s Strongest Properties

The Marvels Could Redeem This Controversial Avengers: Endgame Scene

Releasing in 2019, Captain Marvel officially introduced the character of Carol Danvers after a post-credits scene following the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Coming out between that movie and Avengers: Endgame, it was in many ways promoted as a must-see entry between the third and fourth Avengers films. Some saw this as both far too soon and too late for the character, who some audiences found to be shoehorned into Endgame and the Infinity Saga as a whole. Thus, Carol Danvers lacked the development or earned interest that were associated with the main Avengers, which is something that she desperately needed to truly acquire a strong foundation with audiences.

For instance, the characters in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies were fairly unknown before their 2014 cinematic debut. Still, the direction of James Gunn made the Guardians trilogy into a standout within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the galactic heroes now household names. Their first movie came out in Phase 2 of the MCU, which was when the brand was reaching its highest levels of popularity. In fact, two thirds of the series were released before Avengers: Endgame, meaning that the movies were able to succeed on their own merits and the general forward momentum of the shared universe as a whole.

Thus, even as things seem to be winding down on mainstream audiences’ unfettered love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was perhaps the most beloved entry yet. The previous love of the brand meant that it was able to weather the growing dissent toward Marvel as a whole. This mainly only worked because the Guardians debuted when Marvel Studios was at its strongest. Said idea is backed up by the comparatively low-key success (or lack thereof) for newer launched brands such as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and especially Eternals. Likewise, this lowered interest is also showing just how much the Captain Marvel brand is lacking when it comes to staying power.

Captain Marvel Needed to Release Sooner In Order for The Marvels to Succeed

The MCU Can Introduce This Cosmic Emperor After the Marvels

The aforementioned biggest criticism about Captain Marvel (both the movie and the character) was how Carol Danvers’ introduction into the MCU was handled. It was largely seen as coming too late, making her presence in Endgame feel almost tacked on. That’s definitely part of the reason for the less-than-expected box office hype for The Marvels, which itself comes out four years after the first Captain Marvel. This isn’t helped by how generic and relatively safe the movie looks, with the MCU-style humor on full display in the trailers and not much of a hint of the story. Thus, it’s arguable that both the movie and its predecessor needed to come out far sooner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s life cycle.

If Captain Marvel had released after the original 2012 Avengers movie instead of 7 years later, the character could have been more organically integrated into the MCU. Thus, she might not have been seen by some as a “plot device” and even had some great character development echoing her own time as Ms. Marvel in the comics. Likewise, it might have guaranteed that The Marvels came out sooner, giving it a far better chance at success. Its relatively light tone was far more fitting for a pre-Infinity War Marvel movie, making it analogous somewhat to the first Ant-Man movie. Likewise, this would have been at a time when audiences generally couldn’t get enough of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with pretty much every movie released under the umbrella becoming a hit.

Currently, it’s unlikely that The Marvels will succeed at the box office or receive a sequel. The main points of interest are the rumored post-credits scene cameo, which supposedly involves a completely unrelated character to the Marvels mythos. This also makes the possibility of a second season of Ms. Marvel up in the air, with the show’s first season already getting the lowest views of any Disney+ MCU show. Both projects might have done better had Carol Danvers and her surrounding brand simply had more time to grow and gain fans instead of being rushed to the market. Now, the result is that Marvel Studios’ current weaknesses is fully on display.

The Marvels releases in theaters on Nov. 10, 2023.

 The Marvels is expected to get a lower box office reception on opening weekend than 2019’s Captain Marvel, but it may not be due to superhero fatigue.  Read More