The Marvel Cinematic Universe (As of Now)


The Bib-iest of Nickels
Recent Sentiment: The Marvel Cinematic Universe is losing momentum. Superhero fatigue has set in and the Marvel regime is starting to show cracks in its armor.

What Data Shows Us: The last phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is difficult to breakdown and analyze because all the variables you have to consider in-order to fully represent the data shown.

The Covid-19 outbreak had a lot of negative effect on the box-office that we still haven't recovered from - especially not in foreign marketplaces. For that reason, I don't believe we can use either Shang-Chi, Black Widow, or The Eternals in any proper analysis of the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They were all released at a volatile time where every film released suffered.

That leaves us with:
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Thor: Love and Thunder
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Spider-Man: No Way Home I consider an outlier, so to speak. The film had Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man involved, and I would consider it an "event" film. It was catching lightning in a bottle, benefited by so many different variables (the right moment, as well as pent-up demand for a major film release). Although it will be tested with a sequel, I call it an outlier because I don't think they'll be able to do it again. I believe the next Spider-Man will be a major moneymaker and it will continue, but I don't see the next film reaching the dizzying heights that No Way Home did.

Thor: Love and Thunder was a success for Marvel. Every Thor film has improved on itself at the box-office at a domestic level. The Dark World made more than Thor, Ragnarok made more than Dark World, and now, Love and Thunder has made more than Ragnarok. Love and Thunder made nearly 30 million more than Ragnarok in the United States.

The film made nearly 100 million less worldwide than Ragnarok, however.

This is because Thor: Love and Thunder was not released in China, where Ragnarok made 112 million.

Thus, I would consider Thor: Love and Thunder a stalemate between itself and Ragnarok and a stalemate to the hypothesis that Marvel is losing momentum - adjusted for inflation, they made almost exactly the same amount in the United States.

For anyone who's curious, I liked Ragnarok more than Love and Thunder.

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is not a stalemate to the hypothesis, but a tally in the win column for Marvel. The film made nearly 300 million more than the original film and was amongst the most successful films the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen for a standalone character film. One can argue that it piggybacked off the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always piggybacked off its predecessors (the same way Iron Man 3 was largely carried by the success of the original Avengers film).

For anyone who's curious, I liked Doctor Strange 1 more than Doctor Strange 2.

With that, we are left with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Black Panther in itself is something of an outlier as well. The same way Spider-Man was destined to reach unseen, unheard of success, Black Panther 2 was always doomed to not live up to its predecessor.

The original film was special. Anybody who stares at box-office data all day like I do can attest to that.

We can chalk it off to whatever we want, but the fact is, Black Panther made more domestically than three of the four Avengers movies.

The sequel made 455 million in the United States and did so without the Black Panther. That isn't a representation of Marvel's declining success, but a sign of how weighty the brand actually is.

At 858 million, Black Panther 2 made nearly 500 million less than the original film. That isn't enough to call it a misfire or to make any outright proclamation, other than - Black Panther 2 sure would've made more money if Chadwick was still alive for it.

The film wasn't released in China either (which accounted for 100 million of the original's total), but most of its decline was on a domestic level (the same level that no other Marvel movies has shown any decreases on), which shows, pointedly, that Black Panther 2 didn't have the momentum the original film had.

Lastly, we have Ant-Man 3.

Thus far, this film's biggest crime is falling victim to the fanboy-effect (i.e. a front-loaded box office outcome).

The issue is that Ant-Man has never been a popular franchise for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The first film is nearly at the very bottom of the heap, sitting someplace with the early day Marvel movies, like The Incredible Hulk and the original Thor film. The sequel Ant-Man & the Wasp did a little bit better than that. It crossed the 200 million threshold in the United States.

A decent symmetry can be drawn to the first two Thor movies and Ant-Man movies.

Ant-Man made 180 million domestically and 519 worldwide and Thor made 181 domestically and 440 worldwide. Meanwhile, Ant-Man 2 made 216 million domestically and 622 million worldwide and Thor 2 made 206 million domestically and 644 million worldwide.

The third film Quantumania has dropped like a rock at the domestic box-office (69% after its second weekend), however, you can't tell the whole story without acknowledging that it opened to 106 million compared to Ant-Man's 57 million and The Wasp's 75 million.

By the end of its run, Ant-Man 3 will be the most successful Ant-Man film at the domestic box office. By the end of its worldwide run, it will likely end up someplace over what the original Ant-Man grossed and about what the second film did worldwide.

In summation, the box office data does not support the belief that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is losing momentum (yet).

Instead, it shows a lack of Chinese (Black Panther 2 didn't receive one, Spider-Man didn't, Doctor Strange didn't, Thor didn't. Ant-Man did.) markets, and supports the belief that Ant-Man simply isn't that popular of a character.

Spider-Man: No Way Home
Thor: Love and Thunder
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

They all are my favorite movies...