The Marveling Murder of Marvel


ComicCon Attendees

A timeline of Marvel’s upcoming projects suggests an overwhelming year for fans.

Disney has a new claim to fame: their almost single-handed murder of an entire film genre. That’s right: The superhero genre is dying. And Marvel, of course, is an accomplice to Disney’s misdeeds.

Let’s go over the facts — In 2019, there were roughly 3,000 minutes of screentime throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. In about three years, that number has nearly doubled. 

Excluding the new She-Hulk show, the entire MCU spans about 5,957 minutes, which is roughly four days.

When did this all start? Take a step into the past—2007 to be exact — and Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. are about to take a leap of faith. Everything hinges on them. Four more films are slated to follow them, launching an entire franchise — but only if they succeed.

And they did. The eighth-highest grossing film of 2008 (Iron Man) earns almost $600 million. And so, a few more films are tentatively added to the infantile franchise. Characters most people barely know begin to grace the silver screen. Ten years later, the “Most ambitious crossover event in film history,” Infinity War, hits theaters with resounding success. And now, fifteen years after that first film, we have twenty-nine films, eight television series, fifteen films and specials in development, and one film set to release in November. How did we get here?

One word: starts with an “M” and rhymes with “honey”. If you guessed “Money,” you would be absolutely correct. Now, for context, a film is successful if it makes back its budget and then some; this is known as profit. The average Marvel film costs $190 million to make, and it grosses another $390 million at the box office. The average Marvel movie earns twice its budget plus what was spent to make it. That’s roughly $600 million.

What can you get with that money?

In 2022, half the winning lottery is $600 million. With that money, you could buy about 1200 Ferraris, sixty yachts, or a royal palace in the UK. It’s a lot of money. So it’s no wonder the House of Mouse has been pretty eager to keep production rolling.

But packing 99 hours of film into fifteen short years is pretty exhausting. On average, only 54% of Americans have seen a Marvel movie. Fewer still have seen more than one. A brief survey of a few Clark students revealed that the casual movie-goer has seen between six to ten films.

However, superfan Nelli Torosyan has seen them all.

“I like superhero things,” she said. However, she added they’ve become “repetitive” over the years, with many stories repeating throughout the films. She specifically named Infinity War and Endgame as having almost the same plot. 

“[Earlier films] were better than [newer films],” she mentioned. “The recent one that came out with Harry Styles…I didn’t watch it.” Nelli said her reason for this was that she felt it was simply a rehash of older films.

Nelli was one of the few students to have seen them all. Why is this?

Simple. There’s just too many superhero movies out there. The bigger franchises, like Marvel and DC can put out several films a year and make a profit. Smaller studios can usually only risk one, maybe two. And it doesn’t always end well. After all, most superhero movies look pretty alike. The archetypal origin story usually consists of someone stumbling onto the reason to become a hero or the source of their powers, then embarking on a quest of self-discovery. They also fight some big-bad along the way. We’ve seen this everywhere. From Captain America to Wonder Woman; Black Widow to Batman, every hero finds their reason to be.

And then they get a sequel in which the entire journey of self-discovery is thrown away in order to advance a plot. This, too, contributes to the death of the superhero genre, but it’s really the overabundance of movies to blame. After all, money talks, and if Disney can strike gold with that simple formula, then why would they stop?

Although, looking at recent box office reports, their cash cows may be drying up. The newest superhero movie, Black Adam, has failed to make back its budget. Has anyone even heard of some guy named “Black Adam”? Or seen anything advertising it? A film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson should garner a bit more press. However, a full month after its theatrical release, it doesn’t seem like anyone knows anything about it — except that it was yet another profitless flop. Pretty disappointing for one of The Rock’s films.
We can thank Mr. Mouse for this one. We’ll see if the trend continues with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 11th.