Disney and Marvel Studios are no strangers to box office letdowns, starting with Ant-Man 3 failing to perform and the latest being The Marvels. Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, places the blame squarely on prioritizing "quantity" over "quality" in the post-Avengers: End Game era. What's intriguing is that this emphasis on churning out more content originated from Bob himself.
While the House of Mouse Head Hancho seems to have had an epiphany about the merits of "less is more," his initial stance was quite the opposite. With a 15-year tenure as Disney's CEO until 2020, later extending as executive chairman until 2021, Iger expressed to CNBC in an interview that Disney+ needed "more volume." However, a recent transcript from Disney's Q4 2023 earnings call (via The Motley Fool) reveals a notable shift in Iger's perspective since resuming the CEO role.
During the call, the CEO reflected on the onset of the pandemic, acknowledging a significant production uptick at the time. He candidly admitted that the pursuit of "quantity" had its downsides, asserting:
I've always felt that quantity can be actually a negative when it comes to quality. And I think that's exactly what happened. We lost some focus.
This about-face, from Iger's viewpoint, raises questions about Disney's evolving content strategy. The shift from advocating for more volume on Disney+ to acknowledging the pitfalls of quantity on overall quality suggests a new approach by the House of Mouse may be needed.
Amidst speculations fueled by a revealing Variety report on the state of Marvel, discussions about superhero fatigue have gained traction, dampening anticipation for upcoming superhero movies. The perceived saturation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the onslaught of upcoming movies and shows scheduled for the 2023 TV schedule have contributed to a sense of fatigue. However, attributing The Marvels' lackluster performance solely to this overlooks the successes of properties like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
GoG Vol 3 garnered $845 million globally and positive reviews, while Love and Thunder surpassed $750 million in worldwide earnings despite mixed critical reception. Sony's Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse emerged as a box-office powerhouse, contributing to 2023 being one of the best years for animation. The issue might not be superhero fatigue but rather a potential mishandling of Disney and Marvel's brand, deluding the brand.
Recognizing the need for a course correction, Iger and his team have reportedly taken steps to revitalize their offerings. From rumors of Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man comeback to the decision to give Blade a hard R-rating and the Echo series embracing mature content with a TV-MA rating under the new Marvel Spotlight banner, it's evident that change is afoot at the House of Ideas. The question lingers, though — is it too little, too late?
As Iger and his team scale back on content production, it's essential to remember that not all is gloom in the Disney realm. Celebrating its 4th anniversary today, the Disney+ streaming platform, launched on November 12, 2019, allows fans to revisit the MCU's glory days. While the future direction of Disney and Marvel remains uncertain, a stroll down memory lane via a Disney+ subscription is the perfect way to mark this milestone.