Disney In Freefall (Part 2: Marvel)

Disney In Freefall (Part 2: Marvel)

So much wasted franchise in one picture

Antman and the Wasp Quantomania is officially a disaster.

Its third-weekend box office take is so anemic you’d think it was attacked by a vampire and after a manner of speaking, it was.  

Antman 3 will not break the $500 million mark in theaters.  Every Disney Marvel movie after Black Widow crashed on takeoff, has lost money.  Shang Chi, The Eternals, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Wakanda Forever and now Antman and Wasp Quantomania. 

The trajectory of Disney/Marvel films has been a steady decline if we take Doctor Strange 2 as the baseline for the MCU’s AAA post-Infinity War characters. 

Ike Perlmutter and Ari Arad founded Marvel Studios when they sold off the film rights to their bestselling comic book heroes.  They had a very active hand in the development of Blade, X-Men, and Spiderman but also failures like Hulks one and two.  Their most reliable goffer was an Assistant producer named Kevin.  From 2003 onward he was being listed as Executive Producer on all Marvel co-productions, they weren’t all hits either, his first films included failures like Elektra, Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer, Punisher (2004), Man-Thing((?) I didn’t know that even existed). Kevin Feige was not infallible.

By 2008 Ike Perlmutter thought he had assembled a strong enough team to launch Marvel Studios’ first completely independent movies.  Sure, Fiege was a reliable ringmaster, but he wasn’t the whole team by a long shot.  Marvel studios had a comic book brain trust that has long since been disbanded.  They had decent writers who no longer work there.  Plus, established directors with long track records and unique visions, none of whom has been allowed to work at Marvel for years. Oh, and established masculine actors (although Evans seems to have forgotten about how to do the masculine part).

My point is that Kevin Feige was absolutely not and never was an indispensable one-man band who was doing it all by himself.  He’d been getting the best out of a team of very talented people.  Great results aren’t all that difficult under those circumstances.  Marvel was in a lot of ways, following the golden age MGM Studio practices.

Feige was a good ringmaster but he couldn’t do the highwire act himself.

But during Captain America: Civil War he became convinced he could. 

I suppose I can understand the issue.  Nobody in the history of Hollywood had had a string of billion-dollar blockbusters like Marvel did. Everyone in Hollywood was calling him the greatest genius in the history of filmmaking to his face. 

Kevin Feige was being courted by The Club.  The families that had been running Hollywood since 1900, when it had a population of about 500.  This collection of baby Moguls aren’t good at their jobs, but they were born into them and are very good at looking after their own collective interests.  It’s incredibly frustrating for a production manager to be saddled with one of these as a boss because they are on the phone all day begging for invites to parties and fundraisers or making arrangements to go to a celebrity protest. Anything but doing their actual jobs. These are the people in Hollywood who fail upward all the time.  When you are getting told you are once-in-generation creative genius by the best schmoozers on the planet, it would be very difficult to not start believing it.  Which Feige did. 

He also became very involved with their politics, which was fine by Bob Iger who was already packing as many useless mouths to feed as he could into the C-suites of Disney.  Marvel and LucasFilm could handle the runoff from Burbank.

The last decent creative team that could stand up to the new guard at Marvel was the Russo Brothers who were clearly in “screw you guys, I’m going home” mode after fighting tooth and nail to deliver something close to halfway good in Infinity War.

Sam Raimi who is a very talented director couldn’t do that by the time Doctor Strange 2 was being shot. 

Admittedly, if Doctor Strange 2 and Black Panther 2 hadn’t had massive reshoots they would have been profitable, but neither crossed the billion-dollar threshold so that didn’t happen.

They were however limited losses of the kind that any decent studio accounting goblin can work wonders with. There is nothing that can be done with the latest flop. The Disney/Marvel TV shows on the hand, have been a straight loss from the start.  Kevin Feige doesn’t have a clue how to make television programs and seems determined not to learn.  

I am willing to grant however grudgingly that WandaVision definitely had its moments in the sun.  But the seeds of failure had clearly been planted.   All of the terrible things that have sprouted up in Marvel shows were present in WandaVision.   Superhero shows are never going to be hard science fiction but that doesn’t excuse them from having no internal logic or consistency.  “The woman is right no matter what her actions are” began there. It was the first place we saw Marvel Morality in action and it has been a driving force in most of the Marvel productions since then.

Director Hayward: You’ve taken an entire town hostage.

Wanda: You brought guns.

I know Hollywood retards are pretty fucked in the head about firearms but acting like this was a mike drop moment was actually startling in its amoral idiocy.

Seriously, what did Director Heyward do that led to him being the one dragged off in cuffs?

I mean think about it. 

Wanda Maximoff is known to have been a member of Hydra, the most long-standing terrorist entity in the history of the world.  She killed the king of Wakanda.  She is an escaped felon presumably still in fugitive status. Her sex life indicates severe mental instability (she married her sex doll for god’s sake).  And she has near godlike powers. This foreign national has taken an entire American town hostage and is subjecting the inhabitants to extreme mental torture.  The status of the town’s children is completely unknown.

Heyward was perfectly justified in using any means at his disposal to sanction her. I’ll grant that using her sex doll to eliminate her could be viewed as “staggeringly tactless.”  But it was very likely to get the upper hand on her via the element of surprise.  In fact, this nearly did work.

Heyward did nothing wrong, Wanda’s actions were objectively evil by any standard. Yet, at the end, the show wanted her to be viewed as a martyr.  I will grant there was a good story in there and if she had shown extreme remorse for her action, they would have found it but the people who run Marvel now couldn’t let themselves see that.  Each show makes that more and more obvious.

Marvel’s first films were politically centrist, leaning slightly to the right. Captain America, Ironman, and (yes, even) Thor all had a strong sense of morality.  It’s what made them heroic.

Then Feige over-promoted Victoria Alonso and the age of Marvel Morality began.  In Alonso’s world, the source of morality is anyone possessing a vagina, dark skin, or both. She is the one responsible for codifying what is now called in MCU circles, the “Mantle Theory.”

Her shockingly retarded view is that characters are simply a collection of traits collectively called a Mantle and can be transferred from one character seamlessly to any other character. This is perfectly in keeping with the doctrinal tenets of equity and inclusivity but not those of objective reality or a high school-level creative writing course.

The Mantle Theory is what has sunk the once unsinkable Marvel and they can’t part with it. They are far too committed to this terrible idea to even consider examining it.  No one at Marvel can reverse the course they are set on.

And there has never been a CEO who believes in the Sunk Costs Fallacy as much as Bob Iger.

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*Spiderman was Sony, not Disney.

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