Remember how amped everyone was in 2008 for Iron Man?
There’s been a lot of noise in the past few months, strengthened by Age of Ultron’s performing less than The Avengers on the same weekend and Comic Con, about superhero fatigue finally setting in over the next few years. That may mean next year, with a whopping six properties slated for release. What used to be once or twice a year save-the-date occasions will be an every two month thing in 2016. That’ll continue through the rest of the decade, with Marvel pumping out two or three movies per year until 2019, DC pushing two a year until 2020, and Fox edging in with a Fantastic Four sequel and another Wolverine movie at least.
Oh yeah, there’s a Fantastic Four reboot coming out in just a couple of weeks! With a ton of racial controversy and some weird stuff about the directors. Anyone even remember that? No?
The luster is already coming off, with early projections putting this week’s Ant-Man at $60 million, which would be the lowest Marvel opening ever aside from the oft-forgotten Incredible Hulk ($55 million), and would be the lowest opening since The Avengers by more than $30 million.
Everything the studio released since their first crossover has opened to more than $95 million, and while it isn’t a big step down from Thor and Captain America’s debut films, which both opened to $65 million and change in 2011, they were released rather foolishly against the second weekends of Fast Five and part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, respectively, and probably would have drawn several million more if it weren’t for that competition. To be fair, Ant-Man will take similar heat from Minions.
This movie is just not as exciting as what they’ve been putting out over the past seven years. His costume looks stupid. Michael Douglas isn’t an A-list actor anymore. Evangaline Lilly’s only mainstream exposure was as the stupid made-up sex elf in The Hobbit. Even Paul Rudd, who has been a respected actor since breaking out on Friends at the turn of the century, doesn’t seem like a draw. It doesn’t help that trailers are focusing on the tired “you’re different and special” angle or that the tagline, “Heroes/ don’t get any bigger” — ahahaha, I get it, it’s cause he’s small — got commandeered by the recent Suicide Squad trailer’s “Justice/ has a bad side.”
This isn’t to say Marvel will turn that opening down, but it should be noted that enthusiasm for these movies is already noticeably curbing. Sony has already had to embarrassingly back out on their extended Spider-Man universe, cancelling four movies, and DC could be a prime candidate to do the same with a number of their next 10 announced movies, given how much trouble they’ve had doing anything right since The Dark Knight. Fox is struggling simply to get attention with X-Men and Fantastic Four properties, and with Hugh Jackman announcing he’ll leave after Wolverine 3, their most recognizable role will need a new player after catapulting Jackman to stardom 15 years ago.
Marvel will definitely hang on through their Phase 3, but they could do it with a significantly lighter coin purse than expected.