24 December, 2022
The Avengers debuted to the biggest opening weekend of all time at the time of its release in 2012. It was the highest-grossing film of the year, and the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales. Following its release in 2018, Avengers: Infinity War became the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time. In its opening weekend alone, it grossed a record-breaking $257.6 million. In only 11 days, it broke the record for the fastest climb to $1 billion. The records set by Infinity War would only be broken by Endgame the next year. Avengers: Endgame grossed $1.2 billion worldwide, breaking the previous record of $640 million, set by its predecessor Avengers: Infinity War on the same weekend the previous year. Endgame set a record for the largest international debut, reaching a total of $859 million, a record previously held by Fate of the Furious with $443 million. It led the North American box office to its first $400 million weekend, smashing the record of $314 million set a year ago at the debut of Infinity War.
In an article for CBR, film scholar Ben Hardwick referred to Endgame as “the MCU’s greatest success.” The succession of the Infinity Saga was “the perfect time to offer a fresh start for the franchise and maybe bring in a starting point for newer fans,” said Hardwick.
The success of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame established new standards for the MCU. Originally, Marvel released one or two movies a year. Now, they’ve proven that they can pump out up to four movies a year. But has Marvel given up on maintaining the quality of its own cinematic franchise for the sake of raking in the profits?
The last few years, there has been a lingering quantity-over-quality issue with the MCU. Poor CGI and special effects are among the most common complaints, and are due in part to a packed production schedule. “Rushed CGI has been a constant complaint since Endgame,” said Bradley Russell in an article for Games Radar, “and the lack of time between projects—as evidenced by WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness filming back-to-back—meant plot threads were left dangling for far too long.”
Kevin Feige, Marvel’s Production President since 2007, said that the high output rate of movies and shows is a conscious decision on his part. “That is what makes Marvel in publishing and in the MCU so unique,” Feige said, “being able to see all of those different tones and styles and characters. So I like very much that people say, ‘Look, they’re all different.’ Because that’s how we always feel about them, and always want them to feel.”
The absolute production powerhouse that is Marvel Studios has proven time and time again that it rules the entertainment industry. This new era of Marvel productions will undoubtedly usher in a new kind of superhero; but it seems that unless Marvel can maintain some semblance of organization, they’re on the track for unprecedented losses.
It’s clear that Marvel Studios has a lot planned for the future of the MCU, but what’s the point of making so many movies and shows if you can’t convince your fans to stick around and watch them?
As Shuri declared in Black Panther: “Just because something works, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” Marvel needs to take a step back and really focus on the stories they want to tell. The more content you push out in such a short period of time, the less invested your audience will be, and the less likely they will be to truly appreciate all of the little things that made movies like The Avengers so impactful.