Bob Iger Wants Marvel Studios to Focus on Larger Franchises, Which Can Save the MCU


It’s no mystery that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has somewhat fallen in terms of popularity and success. The shared universe of superhero films was one of the hottest game in the movie genre. But ever since the start of Phase 4, things are far from the same. Now, it seems that Marvel Studios is reconfiguring how the franchise is being handled, and this could finally turn things around.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Iger has made statements concerning the future of the company and Marvel in particular. This involves switching gears to dive firmly into the brand’s most successful characters. While this might seem reductive, it can pay off by restoring goodwill to the MCU.

Bob Iger has come out and stated that the direction for Disney as a whole will be spotlighting the company’s heaviest hitters. In the case of Disney and Pixar, this includes sequels such as the upcoming Moana 2. Apparently, Marvel Studios will be heading in a similar direction. Iger stated to The Hollywood Reporter that the Disney division “is starting to focus on some of its stronger franchises going forward, but I’ll leave it at that.” This leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but it’s somewhat obvious as to how it can be handled.

Given the veritable avalanche of MCU material in the past few years, it’s most likely that the number of movies and TV shows will decrease considerably. This is already being seen in 2024, with Deadpool 3 poised to be the only movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to hit theaters all year. This comes after a whirlwind year beforehand, with the MCU reaching its absolute nadir. For this reason, in particular, dialing back on the shared universe and taking stock of what hasn’t worked is key.

Avengers: Endgame was a watershed moment for the MCU, and in many ways, it created a precedent that likely can’t ever be reached again. To be fair, this was tested given the success of both Spider-Man: Far From Home and especially Spider-Man: No Way Home. Unfortunately, the Web-Slinger was one of the few major Marvel heroes to enter Phase 4 unscathed. Beyond his adventures, however, many of the other new MCU projects disappointed in some way. With Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, it was a major financial success that was unfortunately plagued by mixed reviews and a disappointing reception. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was decently received, but it did see a notable drop-off in box office performance from its predecessor.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a decent success, but not to the degree of past Marvel movies from the Phase before. Likewise, Eternals was a letdown and Marvel Studios’ first movie to receive a “rotten” score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Thor: Love & Thunder was seen by many as a steep decrease in quality that turned the title hero into a joke. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was the next most poorly received MCU movie, and a box office disappointment, to boot. While somewhat more positively received, The Marvels capped this off by being a historic box office bomb.

Adding to this attrition are the many Marvel Studios shows on Disney+, which began with WandaVision. This series was very positively received and made a major impact on pop culture, but since then, none of the other shows have been as successful. The most obvious examples of this were the largely ignored Ms. Marvel and the critically reviled Secret Invasion. The result is that Marvel’s goodwill is at an all-time low, and fan favorites are needed to get audiences interested again.

The most obvious trump card to play in terms of making audiences flock back to the theaters for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Spider-Man. His movies are almost always guaranteed to be major hits, especially in the 2020s. The Tom Holland version of Spider-Man is the most popular iteration, and given where No Way Home left things, many are desperate to see where the Wall-Crawler swings next. The same goes for how the MCU will handle the X-Men, as the upcoming Deadpool 3 will likely showcase those plans. When it comes to the mutants in particular, there are several ways in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe can expand by focusing on them. Beyond the X-Men, there are various teams such as X-Force and X-Factor that can also be introduced. This showcases a major problem with the current MCU, one which the X-Men and Spidey can at least temporarily fix.

Many of the new characters that were introduced in Phase 4 and Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have not been as well-received as previous heroes like Iron Man or the Steve Rogers Captain America. In some cases, characters like She-Hulk or all of the Eternals have been fairly controversial. In the case of the latter, some fans complained that these characters received projects before more important properties like the X-Men or even The Fantastic Four. Given the seeming quality of these projects, this has only further dragged down interest in the MCU as a whole.

Pivoting to Spidey and the X-Men will give the shared universe some much-needed revitalization. Though they shouldn’t necessarily dominate the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s readily apparent that putting them in the center stage is needed to bring viewers back in. This marketing band-aid can be used to lure back audiences, restoring goodwill and hype for what was once an unstoppable juggernaut of a brand. Through this, a new overarching direction can also be created that’s more interesting to people.

Since the end of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel has switched from the Infinity Saga to the Multiverse Saga. After a few movies and shows, it was decided that the villainous Kang the Conqueror was going to be the main antagonist, with the overarching story involving different realities and universes. Unfortunately, this hasn’t panned out, for several reasons. The Multiverse has mostly been relegated to nostalgia, and it also rarely shows up in most of the projects. Likewise, Kang has been panned as the “next Thanos,” and given the legal issues of actor Jonathan Majors, he’s unlikely to remain a prominent factor in the movies. Pivoting away from him is for the best, but focusing on both the X-Men and Spider-Man can deliver more interesting plot directions.

Adapting a version of the “Devil’s Reign” storyline can make Spider-Man the center of a more grounded crossover plot. This could see him and Daredevil as the Captain America and Iron Man of the street-level Marvel heroes. Through this, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin can become the new major threat instead of Kang. Likewise, the more fantastical and science fiction-based stories can be focused on the X-Men and maybe Rhe Fantastic Four, with rising anti-mutant hysteria and possibly even villains such as Magneto and Doctor Doom becoming prominent in the shared universe.

Doing these plots will succeed in uniting the Marvel Studios TV shows and movies in ways that Quantumania and The Marvels did not. Most importantly, they’ll actually focus on beloved characters while still giving the MCU some new blood. It’s still not a permanent solution, but it’s one that can at least regenerate hype and interest for the rest of Phases 5 and 6. Through this, the Marvel Cinematic Universe can recenter itself by focusing on characters that fans can’t wait to see again. It might come at the cost of less-enticing works, but ultimately, that’s for the best when it comes to the overall health and longevity of Marvel Studios.

Like this post? Please share to your friends: