Bob Iger is beginning to question the Marvel method

Originally published at: Bob Iger is beginning to question the Marvel method | Boing Boing


Good. I agree with all that. Yes, we all fall in love with characters and want “MORE!” of the same, but at some point they’re no longer fresh and new, and the writers brought in don’t have the same respect for the stories that made that character popular. Ant-man is a great case in point. The first two movies rocked because it was small (pun intended) stakes, local to him and his family, heist/misdirection films, with a focus on family and his love for his daughter. The new film shucked all that out the window for GRAND SPECTACLE and huge stakes, and I still haven’t bothered to see it because meh…


Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, please.


I regret that I have but one like to give.


It isn’t about too many movies with a specific character, it’s just too many Marvel movies period (and too many super hero movies in general). The cash cow has dried up. Time to move on, or at the very least allow some breathing room between movies so that people actually feel excited to see them rather than feeling obligated to keep up with an ever expanding franchise.


They introduced new characters with the Eternals and that didn’t really work, either. I don’t think the issue is introducing new characters, or not introducing new characters, or the superhero genre being played out. I think the issue quite simply is bad scripts. No Way Home did great, and that movie was just over a year ago. It had a great script. Love and Thunder just a few months later completely tanked. Because the script was garbage.

Tell good stories, people will watch the movies. It really is that simple.


This. All of this.

Before the focus on the Summer Crossover That Changes Everything about 20 years ago, each comic hero largely stayed in their own area with slight overlaps. Avengers as a movie was cool, but don’t build Avengers 2.0. Tell another story. Ant Man was the ‘heist guy’ with slapstick comedy and instead of that they tried to force him into hard sci-fi and tech with the latest one. Thor hasn’t been the same from one movie to another but Thor 3 was a reset point, not a new theme - instead of using that point to develop the character and dive deep into the crazy cosmic mythos of the character (perhaps using it to replace the now-departing Guardians), they went all-in on comedy, trying to tell too many jokes and forgetting the story. And the jokes weren’t all that good.

The movies and TV shows that are rated well are stories. And not every story must directly interweave with each other. Big Hero 6’s Baymax is a Marvel character but he’s never been an Avenger. His story just happens (gestures vaguely) over there. And that’s fine. Spend another 10 years building a complicated framework and pull in some of the characters for a smash em up if you must, but stop trying to speed run it - we’re past the saturation point.


I don’t get this. This is the only thing I hear this claim about, never about anything else that may have more…

Superheroes are a setting, what you do with it is the issue.


New Characters = New Merch Opportunities :money_mouth_face::money_mouth_face::money_mouth_face:


Yes, but they really, really need to get it right. It would be really easy for them to screw it up with bad casting, bad script, or just getting the tone wrong. They apparently very nearly did that with an earlier attempt that they ended up canning. With the right people it could be the best Marvel movie (or show) in years.

That reminds me of a great multi-part series that the NPR Planet Money team did a couple years ago about the economics of Super Hero Intellectual Property. They tried to buy the rights to the lamest, most obscure Marvel super hero but Disney wouldn’t even consider it because you never know which one might turn out to be popular later. (Groot, for example.)


Agreed. And, for the life of me, I can’t understand how they keep dropping the ball with the Fantastic Four. (And, of course there’s another one in the works…)


If you were alive in the 50s & 60s you would have heard it about Westerns (which were also “a setting”). They were profitable and studios kept pumping them out until audiences were sick of them. Like with superhero movies, it doesn’t mean there weren’t some good ones, but with too many out there, they got lost in the noise.


Yep! I was about to give the same example. Westerns absolutely Dominated cinema for decades and people really did get sick of them, so most directors took a break from that genre for a bit.


Is there a year you’d pick for Westerns when saying that there’s too many? I’d like to do a comparison.

In 2022, there were 9 of 442 films that were superhero, so about 2%. That really doesn’t seem near saturation.


Agreed but only if they get the character right. I saw the set photos of the TV show they pulled and was glad they shelved it, the whole thing looked cheap and the tail looked atrocious (though maybe they were planning to swap in a CGI tail later or something?)

Milana Vayntrub did get to reprise that role on an official Marvel podcast though, and that version ended up being pretty fun.


Ok, how about 1950 or so? There were 134 Westerns released that year, including 30 by just one studio, Republic Pictures. Plus there were a bunch of popular TV shows like Howdy Doody & The Lone Ranger, with Gunsmoke and the Roy Rogers show just a year or two later.

In 2022, 6 out of the top 10 films at the box office were about superheroes. And that tracks pretty closely to the most expensive films for the year as well, so it’s definitely the main focus of movie studios.


I think there’s also something to be said for trusting the source material. In my opinion, that’s where Love and Thunder went wrong. The Gorr the God Butcher arc in the comics was outstanding. Jane Foster’s arc where she becomes the Mighty Thor was also outstanding. But those were different stories that barely connected. Feige decided to squeeze them into one 2+ hour movie, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Trust the source material. Why couldn’t they have made those two different films?

And I even think the failure of the Eternals movie comes down to not trusting the source material, but in a different way. The Eternals comics have never been all that successful or highly regarded. It was this weird acid trip of a comic Jack Kirby created, and then Marvel has attempted to reboot it several times, and it’s just never been very successful. So maybe trust the comic book audience that it’s just not a great idea and leave it be. Guardians of the Galaxy working in spite of being a pretty obscure comic might be the exception that proves the rule, in this case. And maybe more reflective of James Gunn than anything else.


Didn’t get the number for 1950, but 1946-1955 28.5% were Westerns. That’s a significantly larger fraction than superhero. If almost 1/3 were superhero, I’d be saying too many too. 1/50? not so much. Why does superhero get the “too many” at this low a bar?

That’s actual performance of the movies and says there is demand. Just by ratio, there should’ve been fewer in the top 10.


One of Disney’s first Marvel movies post-acquisition was Big Hero 6, which is probably even more obscure. I thought it was great but they made some pretty significant changes from the source material.


Because there’s only maybe been one good faith effort to make a decent F4 film. The Roger Corman movie and the reboot with Miles Teller and Michael B Jordan were literally just made to retain IP rights. The Rise of the Silver Surfer was just made to capitalize on the marginal success of the one good faith effort to make a F4 which did reasonably well, but not great, at the box office. I am crossing my fingers that the MCU doesn’t screw up their reboot, because if they do, it will be a very long time before anyone ever tries to make another one.