Are superheroes dying (at the box office)?

Are superheroes dying (at the box office)?< /p> UPDATE DAY

The latest 'Ant-Man' only grossed US$622.7 million at the box office while North American predictions for the upcoming 'Shazam' have been revised down to 82 US$ million in estimated revenue instead of the expected 115 million. Is this the beginning of the end for masked vigilantes? 

Remember, it was 2008 (yes, 15 years ago): Robert Downey Jr. made his big comeback to the screens in the first “Iron Man” whose unforeseen success launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe (UCM ), or the adventures of the current plethora of superheroes and their billions of dollars in box office worldwide. In 15 years, Kevin Feige, the boss of Marvel, has become what is called in English a “powerhouse”, an all-powerful kingpin who makes rain or shine, the purchase of Marvel by the studios of the mouse for the “modest” sum of US$4 billion having been made profitable in a few years, especially if we take into account the manna of derivative products of all kinds.

For 15 years, the enthusiasm was such that all the studios followed suit. Warner Bros. resuscitated “Batman”, the cameras of Christopher Nolan giving Gotham the air of the apocalypse and bailing out the coffers of the studios to the tune of … 2.46 billion US $, a feat never repeated since. Warner is trying — desperately, one should say — to find THE magic formula, the “Superman” with Henry Cavill, the “Justice League” and other “Wonder Woman” unfortunately never managing to climb into the highly prized club of billionaires at the box office (“Aquaman” is the only one to have succeeded). Even Universal Studios – owners of the rights to “The Incredible Hulk” – tried to ride the wave, just think of “Kick-Ass”, as did Sony who tried to decline its “Spider-Man” into a winning franchise, without “Morbius” fulfilling its promises.

It's tiring…

Marvel conquered Hollywood with billions in production budgets, hiring Oscar-winning actors – Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Brie Larson, etc. — by award-winning directors — Kenneth Branagh, Ryan Coogler — and the adventures of superheroes have taken on a new form in the 7th art, born of the existential angst following 9/11 and the transition to the new millennium. But quickly, the quantity killed the quality. Marvel chained the phases, pulling everyone out of the mothballs of the “comic books” so popular after WWII. Thus, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is the 31st film of the UCM, the sequels, prequels, new versions and television series succeeding each other at a pace as metronomic as it is relentless… until the pandemic.

With a sudden and complete shutdown of cinemas from 2020 to 2022, Disney turned to its Disney + platform and Warner to HBO Max without returning to the dizzying figures of pre-COVID. So much so that Bob Iger, the former boss of Disney who took over the helm of the multinational talks about reviewing the current strategy. “Do we need a third or even a fourth movie or is it time to focus on other characters?” he dropped during Morgan Stanley's 2023 Technology Media and Telecom Conference earlier this month. For the Disney strongman, the path to take is clear: “If you look at the trajectory of Marvel over the next five years, you will see a lot of new things. We're going back to the 'Avengers' franchise, but with a new Avengers team.”

Even Warner pruned. “Batgirl” — the movie is finished and cost over US$90 million — will never see the light of day, development of the next “Wonder Woman” has been halted, TV shows like “Pennyworth” have not been renewed and James Gunn, the new big boss of masked vigilantes, is currently working on films that will tell the story of Superman's youth. Yes, it's time to clean up, refocus and save money. As Seth Rogen, who can't be accused of not liking superheroes, so aptly said, “These are movies for kids. I'm going to watch one of those movies, as an adult with no kids, and I'm like, 'Oh, this just isn't for me. ””

“Unfortunately, we now have two separate areas: global audiovisual entertainment and film,” added Seth Rogen. They still overlap from time to time, but it is becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one will be used to marginalize and even minimize the existence of the other.”

Top 5 Movies of superheroes

  • “Avengers – Endgame” (2019): US$2.79 billion
  • 'Avengers – Infinity War' (2018): US$2.04B
  • “Spider-Man – No Returning” (2021): US$1.92B
  • “Avengers” (2012): US$1.51B
  • “Avengers – Age of Ultron” (2015) ): US$1.40 billion

Top 5 box office of 2022

    < li>“Avatar: The Way of the Water” US$2.29B
  • “Top Gun: Maverick”: US$1.49B
  • “Jurassic World: The domination”: US$1B
  • “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”: US$955.77M
  • “Minions 2: Once Upon a Time Gru”: US$939.62M