Following the triumphant end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney’s follow-up properties have been limping over the finish line, battered and bruised. So far, its Phase 4 Hollywood productions have failed to garner much interest, with the recently released Eternals bombing hard at the box office.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 18: (L-R) Kit Harington, Lia McHugh, Kumail Nanjiani, Producer and VP of Production & Development at Marvel Studios Nate Moore, Salma Hayek, Executive Producer and Marvel Studios Co-President Louis D’Esposito, Richard Madden, Director/Screenwriter Chloé Zhao, Gemma Chan, Producer and President of Marvel Studios and CCO of Marvel Kevin Feige, Brian Tyree Henry, Executive Producer and Executive VP of Production Marvel Studios Victoria Alonso, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, and Angelina Jolie arrives at the Premiere of Marvel Studios’ Eternals on October 18, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Prior to that, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings barely made its budget back, before turning a minuscule profit in comparison to all the MCU films that came before. Even established characters like Natasha Romanoff couldn’t make it work in Black Widow, which made only a fraction of what it should have.

On the TV front, things aren’t going much better. WandaVision started out with a lot of potential, but it fell apart in its final few episodes, thanks to some poor narrative choices. Then, there was the disaster that was Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which boiled over with controversy, and caused a ton of viewers to tune out in the middle of the second episode.

Next up was Loki, which Disney touted as a mammoth success, only for the actual viewership numbers to paint a different story. And finally, Hawkeye, which is currently the least watched show on the streaming platform, to date. 

Source: Hawkeye (2021) Poster, Marvel/Disney+

It’s no secret that everything following Avengers: Endgame has been pushing full-bore wokeness as the primary element, and it hasn’t been working. The question is whether that same wokeness is what’s causing the problem, or if people are simply exhausted after a decade of superhero movies.

Woke politics were already starting to infiltrate the MCU before Phase 3 had run its course. The most notorious example was Captain Marvel, starring the unpalatable Brie Larson, who decided to rip on fans while simultaneously insinuating that audio technicians are perverted gropers.

Also… her Youtube channel.

RELATED: Brie Larson Claims She Has A “Mind That Tends To Go A Little To The Depression”

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 22: Brie Larson attends the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Brie Larson

That being said, wokeness might not be what’s killing the MCU… at least not entirely. If anything, it’s just the cherry on top of a cake that is quickly going stale. Consider the box office performance of competing properties that have nothing to do with the superhero craze. 

After over a month since release, The Eternals has managed to snag a scant, paltry $385 million, and that’s after taking worldwide earnings into account. The film cost about $200 million to make, not counting advertising costs, which were at least another $100 million. By comparison, Avengers: Endgame spent an eye-watering $200 million just on advertising alone!

Ghostbusters: Afterlife has has been out for a little over two weeks, yet has managed to rack up almost $147 million against a $75 million dollar budget, sans marketing. This isn’t the first time another property has managed to outdo a massive Disney/Marvel film in terms of budget-to-profit ratio.

Godzilla vs. Kong nabbed $467 million against an estimated $200 million dollar budget, despite being critically panned. 

Source: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures

Have we become tired of superhero films, particularly those from Marvel’s camp? It’s looking that way, more and more. Disney has a nasty habit of trying to milk as many properties for as much money as possible, in the shortest amount of time. This is a mistake the company made with Star Wars, to their own detriment.

The resulting fallout caused the axe to drop on several Star Wars projects, including Rian Johnson’s proposed new trilogy… God willing.

Source: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Do we really need a Hawkeye show? Was it really a good idea to bring out a Black Widow film after killing the character off? Did Disney think that making the Eternals a convoluted and pretentious art house film would attract audiences to a property that few had even heard of? 

These are the questions that many fans are asking, and for good reason. Oversaturation of film franchises is nothing new in Hollywood; they’ve been doing it for years, but Disney remains the king of “hold my beer” moments. It’s costing them in an era when streaming cancellations are predicted to soar in 2022, so the question is whether Disney will pull back from the brink, or keep going.

RELATED: Hollywood Producer Jason Blum Warns About New Hollywood Streaming Dynamic

(L-R): Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

No doubt the latter, but the company can still shift its approach if it wants to embrace new viewers. The MCU is probably Disney’s strongest property next to Star Wars, and by extension, its riskiest. Oversaturating it to the point of implosion will threaten everything that follows, including the rest of Phase 4, and beyond. 

It’s not the only hurdle Disney is facing, either. Storytelling is another major problem, and it’s getting weaker and weaker as time drags on. It feels as if Disney is simply throwing anything it can at the wall, in the hopes it will stick.

Screenshot, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), Disney/LucasFilm

Suddenly, we’ve been warped back to the incoherence and aimlessness of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with very little in the way of actual cohesive storytelling, or even a workable long-term narrative. The writing is lazy, the plots contrived, and the character development scattershot, at best.

Bringing focus back to the MCU is what Disney needs, and it will pay off in films like Spider-Man: No Way Home. We’re predicting that it will rake in a ton of cash, primarily because it will stick largely to the established MCU formula that worked in the past. That, and the sheer novelty of seeing Spider-Man’s multiverse characters introduced officially within the MCU.

Again, all throwbacks to a better age.

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

Next up will be Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is rumored to take on a more horror-themed approach. If true, it could signal fertile new ground for Disney.

That is, of course, unless Kevin Feige gets his way, and continues to prioritize forced diversity and radical Left politics as the central core of the MCU.

RELATED: Benedict Cumberbatch Claims In New Interview He Thought Doctor Strange Was “Dated, Sexist Character”

Source: Black Widow

Feige has said in the past that he’s thoroughly committed to gender and sexual diversity, which has come at the cost of strong storytelling and character development. He’s determined to get the MCU to the point where, according to Feige himself, “more than half” the heroes will be women.

His first attempt at making this happen has utterly failed, and continues to bomb as audiences tune completely out of bait-and-switch shows like Hawkeye, which are intended to emasculate every single male, whilst flooding the narrative with ultra-strong females who can toss men three times their size around like ragdolls.

This, from the side who claims that women don’t actually exist, and are simply a social construct. This, from the side who refers to mothers as “chest-feeders” and “birthing persons.” This, from the side that, if challenged, cannot define what a woman actually is, while simultaneously undermining them by allowing biological males to compete in female sports, where they dominate. 

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 20: (L-R) President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Director Taika Waititi and Natalie Portman of Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

The irony, of course, is that very few men, or women want to see that. It’s the James Bond blowback effect, duplicated. Men went to see James Bond in theaters, because he represented the cool and confident secret agent who saves the world, and beds the girl.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, women were enchanted and excited by those very same qualities. Both realized that the character was make believe, and the movies were pure fantasy.

Source: GoldenEye (1995)

Worthy of note, female superheroes are awesome, but they’re only so when they’re allowed to stand on their own individual merits. If they need to replace male counterparts, eject their femininity, or become sandwiched into implausible Mary Sue storylines, then no progress has been made.

In fact, the opposite occurs, and the result is less enthusiasm for female leads. Alien’s Ellen Ripley, or the O.G. Princess Leia are still the platinum standards when it comes to showing how to do a female hero the right way, and today’s filmmakers need a crash course on what made them so great.

RELATED: Lucasfilm Rumored To Be Developing New Disney+ Star Wars Series About A Force-Sensitive Female Bounty Hunter

Source: Star Wars: A New Hope

The non-woke formula that built the MCU into a veritable powerhouse remains the blueprint for success, while the wokeified imposter has been a critical and financial disaster. If Disney wants to start making money again, especially in a post-Covid era, it needs to ditch the “new” model, and get back to basics. 

That is, of course, if the woke will simply get out of the way, and make room. 

And therein lies the rub. The moment woke politics are injected into any property, even in very small doses, it can completely derail a narrative. Diversity is fine on its own, but forced diversity is repugnant to the core, and it turns off viewers on both sides of the political spectrum, especially when it comes at the expense of established identity groups who are routinely demonized in far-Left circles. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 29: (L-R) Chairman of Disney Studios Content Alan Bergman, Producer, President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Kevin Feige, and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Chapek attend the Black Widow World Premiere Fan Event at Dolby Theatre on June 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

So, will Disney learn its lesson, or will it continue to allow its worst writers and political activists to guide the ship straight into an iceberg? Like all things, it boils down to money. Sooner or later, even the most ardent and stubborn individual suffering from chronic denial will crash straight into the brick wall of reality.

Disney is run by capitalists out to make money, and if that money starts to dry up in vast quantities, some serious changes will need to take place.

So far, Disney has several MCU properties that have floundered, and there must be talk going on behind boardroom doors as to why they can’t replicate the billion-dollar+ successes of the last decade. The question is, how long can they keep bleeding money like an open throat wound?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 29: (L-R) Producer, President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Kevin Feige, EVP of Production at Marvel Studios Victoria Alonso, Co-Producer Brian Chapek, and Executive Producer Brad Winderbaum attend the Black Widow World Premiere Fan Event at Dolby Theatre on June 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

In order to solve that riddle, Disney needs to realize that there’s more than one culprit to hold accountable, and it’s not just wokeness, or superhero fatigue. Everything fits together, and Disney is currently caught in a feedback loop of bad decision-making, driven by one very misguided and ill-informed echo chamber.

If the company can’t purge its woke staffers, and elevate those who know how to leverage the backstories of the characters and teams that made Marvel the comic book titan that it was, then it shouldn’t be surprised when it’s forced to sell off the rights a few years down the road, just to stay afloat. As it stands, Kevin Feige can no longer be trusted to lead the MCU back into the black. 

NEXT: Bob Chapek Rumored To Be Feuding With Kevin Feige Over Marvel’s New Woke Strategy

  • About The Author

    Slade Hale
    Professional Writer

    Slade has been writing for some of the most prolific pop culture publications since the mid-90s, including GamePro, CinemaBlend, ScreenRant, and more.