While we have debated whether we are truly sick of superhero movies or support what superhero movies do for the indie film community, one thing we can all agree on is the fatigue we feel from the oversaturation of superhero films and TV shows.
Superhero fatigue is real and has been real for a long time. Now, Disney CEO Bob Iger is confronting the problem, stating that the studio’s output is one reason for “some disappointments.” One of the biggest Marvel disappointments from this year happened to be Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which became the lowest-grossing Marvel film of all time by grossing $474 million worldwide (according to Box Office Mojo).
While speaking to CNBC’s David Faber at the Sun Valley Conference, Variety writes that Iger admitted that the studio “screwed with audience expectations by offering up so much streaming content.”
“There have been some disappointments. We would have liked some of our more recent releases to perform better,” Iger said. “It’s reflective not as a problem from a personnel perspective, but I think in our zeal to basically grow our content significantly to serve mostly our streaming offerings, we ended up taxing our people way beyond—in terms of their time and their focus—way beyond where they had been.”
Iger added, “Marvel’s a great example of that. They had not been in the TV business at any significant level. Not only did they increase their movie output, but they ended up making a number of television series, and frankly, it diluted focus and attention. That is, I think, more of the cause than anything.”
How did this happen? Let me explain.
The Multiverse Fatigue
Marvel’s numerous shows with varying quality have pressured audiences to keep up with the multiverse web of madness that is more of a mess than anything else.
Unfortunately, Marvel’s output was so high that the writers of Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness didn’t get to read the scripts for WandaVisioneven though Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) experiences from the latter were the catalyst for the actions in Dr. Strange. The conversation on how each story connects is no longer being had, which means that the same stories are being told through different characters, essentially making each character underdeveloped and meaningless when they do connect for an assembled story.
You can watch the Burback Brothers' breakdown of the main problem of the multiverse and the fatigue we feel for this new phase of Marvel.
The Difficult Leap from Streaming to Theaters
Other poor box office performances from Disney include Pixar’s Elemental. The Pixar film is struggling at the box office. Iger cites that the studio’s decision to put three Pixar movies previous movies on Disney+ (Soul, Luca, and Turning Red) during the pandemic created an expectation for how audiences should interact with these animated films.
“There were three Pixar releases in a row that went direct to streaming, in part because of—mostly because of COVID,” Iger said. “And I think that may have created an expectation in the audience that they’re going to eventually be on streaming and probably quickly, and there wasn’t an urgency. And then I think there was some, I think you’d have to agree that there were some creative misses, as well.”
Pixar’s creative chief officer, Pete Docter, shared a similar sentiment with Variety last month, saying that the studio’s decision to put three Pixar films exclusively on the streaming service is “a mixed blessing because we’ve trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+. And it’s more expensive for a family of four to go to a theater when they know they can wait and it’ll come out on the platform.”
So, what does Disney need to do differently?
'Elemental'Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Is There a Solution?
Truthfully, Iger needs to do something as drastic as Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav did and only have films premiere in theaters, meaning that every film made to debut on the streaming service should go straight into theaters.
However, many families of four still can’t afford to go to theaters all of the time. This means that Disney will need to release fewer films a year from Marvel, Pixar, and Disney Animations. Doing this will put a lot less pressure on audiences everywhere from feeling the need to go see every single piece of media Disney releases, which is far too much for any person to consume.
Less is more is a concept that Marvel needs to approach if they want to survive.
As for Disney, setting realistic expectations from their modern audiences will help them create a tentpole strategy that won’t fail immediately out of the gate.
Is there another solution that Disney should try to find success in their next few projects? Let us know in the comments.