We are about two weeks away from the release of The Marvels, the film that’s not just a follow-up to Captain Marvel, but also a follow-up to WandaVision, Ms. Marvel and Secret Invasion on Disney Plus, technically. All of that jammed into just an hour and forty-five minutes, the MCU’s shortest-ever film.
At this point, it does not seem like it will matter all that much if the movie is actually good. Captain Marvel was an…okay MCU film, but we are living in a very different era now, and this feels like a key case in Disney’s overcomplicated movie/TV process at the moment, one that Kevin Feige has already said they’re going to streamline in the future, with less shows made to directly serve movies like the three examples we’re seeing here.
For The Marvels, in order to know anything about Monica Rambeau and her powers, you need to have seen WandaVision which covered that entire storyline. In order to get a proper introduction to Kamala Khan, you have to watch Ms. Marvel, which is in fact one of Disney’s least watched series ever, despite having the highest critics scores in the MCU.
The only show you can safely skip is probably Secret Invasion, which seems like it was deliberately designed almost to be ignored by The Marvels, with Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury back on that spaceship again by the end. Don’t watch it. Trust me. I doubt it’s going to be referenced at all, in any case.
We would just seem to be living in a very different era than when Captain Marvel made $1.1 billion at the box office back in 2019. But it’s not just Marvel. You’ll recall that DC’s Aquaman also made a $1 billion back then, and its upcoming sequel is not likely to get anywhere near that after a string of misses from the studio.
For Phase 5 here, that technically began with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which debuted with low critic scores and ended its run with under $500 million at the global box office. Just over Marvel’s supposedly “worst” MCU movie before that, Phase 4’s Eternals, at $400 million.
Technically, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was a Phase 5 movie, but that was James Gunn’s GotG swan song disconnected from anything else important going on in the MCU. That did well with $845 million worldwide. But ticket presales for The Marvels are trending at a third of GotG Vol 3’s, very very low for a big Marvel film. There has been no press push at all for the film either because the release window is in the middle of the actors’ strike, so none of them can promote it, on top of everything else.
I just do not have a good feeling about The Marvels. Marketing is all over the place, and you wouldn’t really know to look forward to it all that much unless you were a superfan of the first movie or you watched Ms. Marvel and you want to see the excellent Iman Vellani do more with Kamala. But given how few people did watch that show, that’s not a big portion of the potential audience. But take my word for it, Vellani is the best-cast actor in the MCU since Tony Stark’s Iron Man.
The Marvels just seems like the wrong movie hitting at the wrong moment in the wrong era of Marvel where they’re doing all these poorly executed show/movie crossovers. Unfortunately, if The Marvels fails, no matter if it’s good or not, it’s going to create a very stupid “it’s because it was woke!!” discourse perpetuated by the fanboys who harassed Brie Larson for the last five years for literally no damn reason at all. The absurd, unwarranted hatred for Larson and Captain Marvel from that crew is disturbing.
But no, that will have nothing to do with whether The Marvels flops or not. It just does not seem like a good moment for this project, and there seems to be relatively little excitement as it draws closer. Maybe the vibe is better than it looks and presales aren’t correct indicators, but it sure doesn’t seem great.