You can’t spell “major crisis upcoming for Disney shareholders” without an M a C and a U.  

A scathing article was published in Variety recently that reported what many have already suspected: there is chaos at the core of Marvel Studios, the entertainment engine behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and its affiliated Disney+ streaming properties.

While Marvel is still the keyholder to the most successful franchise in history with four of the top ten worldwide grossers, the post-Endgame phase of MCU has been rocky. And there’s nothing but trouble up ahead.

First, there’s The Marvels, which is tracking poorly, and, as per Variety, saw its director Nia DaCosta essentially tapping out during post-production to go and make another movie. There have been no public screenings yet, different from Marvel’s typical roll-out for geek-friendly “influencers” who say positive things on social media well in advance of opening night. For The Marvels, the first tweets won’t come until about 39 hours before the first ticket-buyer takes their seat. 

Further headaches include the issue of whether or not to recast Jonathan Majors, headed to court on charges of domestic abuse, in the part of Kang the Conquerer, or just write that character out of upcoming films. Majors was said to feature heavily as the new “big bad,” á la Thanos. Variety’s story also has juicy details concerning the mandate to push for more material on Disney+; how the reboot of Blade, with two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali on board, can’t seem to get its screenplay together; how there’s even been talk of resurrecting dead characters to bring back Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson via multiversal shenanigans. Also, the occasionally lousy special effects in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and She-Hulk did not mean you needed your eyes checked. They simply ran out of time.

Far be it from me to suggest Disney studio head Robert Iger or Marvel’s Fleet Admiral Kevin Feige don’t know what they are doing, but everyone can use a little unsolicited advice, right? To that end, here are my suggestions on how to save Marvel Studios. 

This is what should have happened after Endgame. Marvel: hit snooze. Take your victory lap and wait for the market to want more movies, not just expect more movies. The Spider-Man films, which are a little bit ancillary to the main MCU, would have been more than enough.

But unlike Doctor Strange, we can not turn back time. So, the suggestion for now is just: stop. Just stop! It may sound crazy — how could they stop? But this is what an overworked businessman says before he drops dead of a myocardial infarction at his desk. That’ll stop ya! So don’t let that happen. Take a time-out, re-assess and then do good work.

The first family of Marvel ComicsMarvel Comics

There’s been a lot of talk about a Fantastic Four movie, and this is a great idea for the next movie after a pause. This was the first Marvel comic under Stan Lee, and everything that made that brand different is evident in the humanity of those heroes. But keep it simple! Do not tie this up in 100 different ways reset the Marvel Universe. Just make it about Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing.

Okay, Spider-Man can be in there, too, because nothing flames on like SpideyTorch.

In 2023, we saw Robert Downey Jr. in Oppenheimer and Scarlett Johansson in Asteroid City and both were fantastic. They’re free! Disney has the money, I’m sure, to lure both of them back to the MCU, and, story-wise, they can probably find a way to make it make sense. But I say it is time to shut the portals on the multiverse.

When there are so many parallel timelines and alternate dimensions, the stories suffer because the stakes are lowered. (Modern Star Trek, are you listening?) It hurts to say goodbye to people we love, but we’ve got to move on. Bringing the original crew back together is a band-aid, not a permanent fix.

Variety’s story about Nia DaCosta making another movie while the post-production and reshoots on The Marvels dragged on speaks well to her industrious nature but really does make the MCU look like a factory. There were similar stories about Chloe Zhao hitting the Oscar campaign trail for Nomadland during post on The Eternals. I think Kevin Feige’s got to trust who he’s hired and learn to micromanage less. I can understand why this was essential in the early days, as he set a tone to connect multiple movies for the first Avengers crossover, but that isn’t a brass ring anymore. The big win now is simply this: make a good film.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is truly one of the ugliest-looking mainstream movies ever. Green screen is a plague throughout action and fantasy filmmaking right now, but it never looks worse than in Quantumania. It must end. Go outside. Shoot in actual locations. Find a way for Thor to bash someone’s head without the background looking like gray sludge. Maybe people don’t need to fly around and shoot beams of light out of their fists so much? It’s the characters and the performers that people talk about once the movie is over — not the smeary laser blasts and portals.

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