Opinion: Marvel and DC Are Not the Kings of Cinema Anymore

Joseph Valenzo, Staff writer

With the opening weekend of “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” behind us, it is easy to say by dwindling ticket numbers that something is off. Is the movie bad? Did “Shazam” need a sequel? Or is it something that encompasses more than this one movie? There is a problem at the root of superhero movies. Something that is driving down the quality for the entire concept of these films as a whole. I would argue that there are three things driving people away from superhero movies: over abundance, subscription services, and needless crossovers.

With the existence of Disney+, Marvel has been churning out original series and movies like never before. This includes eight original shows, seven movies and one holiday special. DC has also released 4 movies since the start of 2022, making 11 total superhero movies between the two companies. This constant release of content has led to a decrease in quality, from writing to CGI, with the money seemingly going towards the hiring of big-name actors like Jonathan Majors, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Florence Pugh, Oscar Issac, and Harry Styles. While it cannot be confirmed or denied that the money and budget for these movies are going to these actors, with the lack of direction and poor visuals the movies are producing, one can infer that this can be one of many reasons. 

As if the over-abundance of movies and shows are not enough, it seems to be that as time has gone on, attendance at opening weekends for superhero movies has decreased. The most recent Marvel movie, “Ant Man: Quantumania,” had an opening weekend sale number of $106.1 million, with a sharp decrease of 69.8% the following weekend. “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” numbers seem to be even worse, with an opening weekend sale number of $30.5 million. When you compare these numbers with “Top Gun: Maverick,” which made $126.7 million in opening weekend sales and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which brought in $134 million its opening weekend, it’s easy to say superhero movies are falling out. This isn’t even including the fact that “Top Gun” and “Avatar,” non superhero movies, were the top two highest-grossing films of 2022. 

The shows and series that Marvel has been producing have not been given a good representation either. A clear example of this is the most recent “Doctor Strange” movie, which ties into the “Wandavision” show on Disney+. “Wandavision” is essential to the plot, as the entire movie revolves around Wanda Maximoff becoming the villain of the storyline. Without knowing the plot of “Wandavision,” it feels impossible to understand the movie and Wanda’s motives as the new villain. For people without Disney+ or people who haven’t watched the show, you would be hopelessly lost and confused about what is happening in the movie.

This isn’t to say that superhero movies are going to die out any time soon. Marvel still has plans to release series on Disney+ and more movies as the next phases of Marvel come out. What I am saying is that the world needs a break from superhero movies, some time to build hype for the new show or movie. The main reason “Top Gun” and “Avatar” did well was because both had substantial hype behind them as the movies had been in production for years. “Avatar: Way of Water” took over a decade to make, and “Top Gun” took 10 years as well. Compare this to “Antman: Quantamania” and not even two years of production was put into the movie, and the reason for the success of non-franchise movies is clear as day. 

Regardless of how you feel about superhero movies, I feel like moviegoers could use a break. With such an over-abundance of movies and shows, it feels hard to keep up with multiple storylines and character arcs. We don’t need shows to leak into the movies, or else we alienate a part of the audience that can’t afford the subscription. All in all, Marvel and DC need a break, some time to refine the art of movie and show making, so that these movies with so much love behind them can become memorable again.