I think the basic problem is that the potential audience for MCU movies has split since 2008. At the start the audience was “people who want to see a cool superhero action film”. And then it was “people who want to see a cool superhero action film and are curious about how this whole world-building thing is going to work”.
But now there’s two audiences: “people who want to see a cool superhero action film but don’t want a hundred hours of homework first”, and “people who want to see the world moved meaningfully forward, and see the loose ends from earlier films advanced or tied up”.
It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to make a movie that satisfies both audiences. Admittedly some of the recent offerings haven’t satisfied either audience, but even if they had, there would still be a lot of people unhappy with the result.
Keep in mind that 15-year olds (arguably the prime audience for this kind of thing) were born the year Iron Man came out. It might not be reasonable to expect them to have watched 32 movies and 9 shows.
If you were going to split up the characters having someone out in the real world for part of the film may have been a good choice too. Like it was stated ant man being tiny in the real world is cool and some of the highlights of the previous films, and you don’t get that here.
If I was involved in the story I would have had some quantum realm vs real world connection with some action happening in the real world at the same time as the quantum realm with some sort of macguffin between the two. They painted themselves into a corner with the premise of the film taking place entirely in the quantum realm.
The other huge problem with these films is the audience has caught on that these films are now just episodes in a story, with each one building to the next one. This means that while each film viewing is essential to the story, but also that nothing really epic can happen til the big finale film Ala Endgame. Personally this has made them “wait for vod” level for me.
I’ve said this before, but I still feel like this is the main problem that the MCU is struggling with.
There’s a limit to how many times you can shout “The World is Going to End” before people tire of it.
It worked in the first 20 films because they pretty quickly estasblished that there was “something more” out there and managed to put together a cast of characters that people just loved to watch - and still, IMO, the best of the movies in that part of the franchise other than the two final ones are films were the stakes are not world-ending (Civil War, Homecoming, Black Panther). I’d add Ragnarok since that story is only marginally about Hela, but of course in theory she is a “world-ender”.
But once you’ve done this 20 times, with the massive Endgame on top, it’s always going to fall flat. We know Kang/Dweller-in-Darkness/Strange/Noor/Wanda/Ammit/Whatever-Flavor-of the-movie isn’t going to destroy the earth/universe, because the next 10 films have already been planned. This means that the entire movie has to rest on the journey to the end that we know we’ll get being entertaining and the likeability of the characters… or that we care about what happens to the characters more than the end of the world.
It’s why (IMO) Hawkeye has been the best part of the latter MCU, because the stakes there were personal. Wandavision worked because we cared what happened to Wanda and Vision. Ms Marvel worked for a bit, until they got on the “world ending” train in the back half.
The only bright spot in my memory of Quantumania was the huge pile of Ant-Men. I don’t even remember their excuse for needing to reach the thing at the top, but the pile was fun/funny, you wouldn’t see it in any other character’s movie and it dovetailed an emotional theme and a plot threat.
It was a struggle to watch the movie between Wasp and Cassie being so boring, the CG making me sleepy, not caring about the civilizations they met, Jonathan Majors having generic powers and overacting at nothing, the overall length and feeling that any particular scene put no constraints on the next scene so the movie was going to keep feeling long.
If the movie failing shocked them into changing their approach to future movies, that’s good news.
Tell that to the Marvel Comics Universe, which has been doing just that for more than sixty years (or eighty, depending on what you count as Marvel) across hundreds of books. I mean, it may not be your cup of tea. But odds are those people in tights will be punching each other to stop the end of the world in one format or another for a long time to come.
This is of course true of every movie marketed as an action movie with an end-of-the-world plot since the genre was invented. We all know perfectly well that the evil genius isn’t going to actually get to spread the death plague, or release the killer bees, or whatever, in the last reel. But that doesn’t stop anyone from lining up for the next Bond (for example) movie.
I mostly agree with this part: I prefer smaller-scale stories myself. But that’s just me. When you look at the history of blockbuster action movies, the fact is, audiences are perfectly happy to go to movies with world-shattering stakes.
(I’d argue the big problem with MCU stuff is less the stakes than the fact that there’s just too much of it, especially with quality trending in the wrong direction. How can I miss you if you won’t go away?)
The difference between a comic book series and a movie franchise is the numbers required to make each successful. A movie franchise can’t exist on an elite audience, they need to attract a much wider demographic.
I think that wider demographic is burned out on every movie meaning so much.
You all are reading too much into this. It’s just bad. It’s a badly written, badly directed movie. The cast is sleepwalking their way though it because they’re pretending a human broccoli is a real.
The phase 4 productions are bad because they’ve run out of inspiration. Like a band that hit its prime and built a massive audience, then carries on releasing mediocre to bad albums in perpetuity. People go to the concerts because they want to hear Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets again, not St Anger or whatever uninspired formulaic focus grouped pile of “bleh” Marvel is churning out now.
And that’s part of my theory. Comic book sales have never been especially great in recent decades. They were almost on life support. I read a long time ago that graphic novels (basically collections of comic book episode runs) helped a bit, but as that sales chart I posted last week, sales didn’t explode during the heydey of the MCU run and even shrank some years.
I think a lot of people go through an infatuation with comic books at a certain point in their life, and a lot of those people move on after a while. And I feel this is being echoed now. The novelty of seeing your childhood on screen was fun, but there’s only so many iterations of that you can take before you move on.
The MCU has become what turned me off to comic books altogether. You saw me at the comic book store every week between the ages of 13-18. But once I got to college, and even though there were several comic book stores near campus, I just stopped. Maybe it was seeing the proliferation of so many X-titles (Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor… etc). It became overwhelming and expensive and I discovered new things.
It feels like the MCU has done the same by flooding TV and theaters.
I don’t think it’s just Marvel. Disney is putting out a lot of stinkers lately.
The Star Wars sequels are disasters, and half the Disney+ shows are just as bad. Obi Wan should have been an easy win and they somehow fucked that up. Book of Boba Fett wasn’t only bad, it was boring. How do you make Star Wars boring? They did it.
I think Disney is taking the fans for granted. They can crank out movies with budgets in the $100s of millions but they don’t spend any money producing good stories apparently. They just expect we’ll show up to see explosions or cute cartoon creatures and not care about what’s going on with the characters.
Why are these so bad? Creatively dead writers? Ran out of classic stories to copy? Too much corporate meddling? Who knows!
You can get by with either novelty or exceptional execution. Sometimes you get both, which is when you get a timeless classic (Forrest Gump, for example.) Marvel’s novelty, seeing all these classic superheroes on film and it actually looks good, edgy but human dialog, big boom pow, etc. has worn off and now the lack of expert execution is showing through.
Wandavision, for instance, was late in the MCU game but packed a ton of novelty (and also good execution) and we all loved it. Secret Invasion was something something Sam Jackson is talking to a lot of people about something. It had neither. Quantumania was a pure CGI fest and they should have known that if you’re going that direction you better absolutely murder it with execution, which it did not. That should have been common knowledge for the dozen years since Green Lantern.