Marvel Would Lose Too Much Trying DC’s Hard Reset


The Big Picture

  • The DCEU is being rebooted by James Gunn as it failed to make a significant cultural impact despite its few successes.
  • Marvel needs to make changes to regain audience interest by focusing on quality, establishing a clear ending, and reducing the number of projects.
  • Marvel shouldn’t start from scratch as they have many successful casting and story choices, unlike the DCEU, which warrants a complete restart.

Out of all the 2010s ill-fated cinematic universes, the demise of the DCEU might just be the most disappointing. Marvel spent 2008 to 2019 making an absolute fool of everyone in sight. With one hit adaptation of various obscure comic book characters after the next, they made this whole interconnected film series practice look easy. So, of course, DC Comics had to follow in their footsteps, an endeavor that sounded easy enough… at first. Clearly, that was not the case. Their casket has been slammed shut, capping off with 16 films and hardly any cultural impact in their wake. They weren’t without their successes, though. The DCEU introduced us to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, gave us the phenomenon that was Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and Henry Cavill‘s mostly beloved stint as Superman. Despite those wins, James Gunn is stepping in to restart the universe from the ground up. And honestly, with their largely middling track record, we aren’t really losing that much.

The MCU, on the other hand, is not held in the same light that they were in 2019. The last five years have actually been quite rough for Hollywood’s biggest moneymaker. Recently, they’ve been on a tear of disappointing box office results, spreading themselves too thin between movies and TV, and worst of all, disillusioning even their most loyal fans. Something has to change. Unfortunately, they can’t exactly take DC’s way out. As of January 2024, they have released 33 movies and 25 TV shows (across various streaming services and networks), so a total overhaul feels impossible. Obviously, anything is possible, but almost every casting and storyline choice that was made from 2008 to 2019 was too perfect to toss out. While there are rumors that there could be a soft reboot of sorts heading our way with Avengers: Secret Wars, we’re still too far out to know for sure. They might not be able to take DC’s route, but Marvel needs to figure things out before they lose their audience for good.

Echo

Maya Lopez must face her past, reconnect with her Native American roots and embrace the meaning of family and community if she ever hopes to move forward.

Release Date
January 9, 2024
Franchise
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Main Genre
Drama
Seasons
1

The DCEU is the Perfect Franchise to Start Over Because It Never Truly Took Off

A few passionate fans might disagree, but by and large, audiences aren’t losing much with James Gunn’s DC takeover. Man of Steel rocks and no one can ever convince me otherwise. However, almost everything since has been tainted in either release or reception. We’re talking about movies that were mostly met with shrugs at best, if not totally despised. Loads of them went on to be box office successes, but the first decade of MCU movies crossed a billion dollars in their sleep, so the DCEU’s near-total lack of billion-dollar hits was seen as a failure by most. There are solid entries in Wonder Woman and The Suicide Squad, cult favorites like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Birds of Prey, but too many Flash-like titles to make this a world worth keeping around.

DC needed a change, and that’s what James Gunn is giving us. Starting with 2025’s Superman: Legacy, this franchise is starting over completely with a whole new cast, past actors potentially playing different parts, and fresh storylines for every character. Instead of continuing the DCEU’s strategy of hiring unconventional actors for various characters, Gunn has hand-picked faces that feel almost too perfect. There’s a world in which Jesse Eisenberg could have worked as Lex, but Nicholas Hoult just feels right in the role, you know? That’s without even mentioning the home run of David Conrenswet and Rachel Broshanan as Superman and Lois Lane! Challenging casting choices can work occasionally, but when a majority of your universe’s ensemble is made of them, your chances for success drop drastically.

To Win Audiences Over Again, the MCU Desperately Needs To Change

Image via Marvel Studios

Marvel, on the other hand, has nailed filling the shoes of their universe’s various characters. Yes, even in their recent lackluster period, they’ve still picked the right performers to play new superheroes. You can’t even argue too hard against the move to follow up the Infinity Saga with the Multiverse Saga! It might be a hot take to say that the larger character and narrative decisions that Marvel has made have been as good as ever, but it’s true. The problem isn’t with the types of fantastical, cosmic chronicles that they have chosen to divulge — the issue is the number of projects.

Two key things turned the tide for Marvel back in 2019. One was that The Infinity Saga wrapped up with Avengers: Endgame, meaning that the series couldn’t rely on Thanos (Josh Brolin) or the Infinity Stones anymore, and would have to head down a completely different comic book route. The other thing was the launch of Disney+. WandaVision might not have premiered until 2021, but in 2019, everyone knew that the House of Mouse’s streaming service meant we would soon be facing an ocean of Marvel TV shows. Sprinkle in a huge gap in releases because of a worldwide pandemic, general superhero fatigue, notoriously dodgy CGI, and the combined arrest and firing of a key actor, and you have a recipe for Marvel’s downfall.

Marvel Has Too Many Winning Ingredients and Beloved Elements To Start Over

Like most other high-concept projects that Marvel has put out over the years, the idea of the multiverse has not seemed to put viewers off. Nor has bringing on stellar performers like Iman Vellani! It’s that there’s just too much. General audiences that used to just show up for the next theatrical MCU film are now faced with shows, miniseries, movies, and even past Marvel releases as elements that could potentially factor into a future story. You might love the idea of soaking up all the superhero content that you can get, but your next-door neighbor doesn’t want to do homework. That’s what all of this feels like now — one big assignment after another.

The thing is, audiences are still somewhat holding on because of what this industry juggernaut once was — and still is, to a certain degree. Tom Holland is still Spider-Man, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo continue to kick it as Thor and Hulk, the Guardians will appear here and there in different capacities, and much more. We’re also still being promised projects and characters that sound fun! Mahershala Ali is set to play Blade (if it ever actually gets off the ground), Florence Pugh has somewhat taken over the Black Widow mantle, and, for better or for worse, we’re going to see a ton of past Marvel movie characters return for projects like Deadpool 3 and Secret Wars. Everyone knows how great this series once was, and what it still could be.

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Marvel Should Limit the Projects Being Made and Focus on What Works

secret-invasion-episode-4-samuel-l-jackson-nick-fury
Image via Disney+

What is that direction, though? Well, regardless of what Kevin Feige and co. say, it doesn’t seem like Marvel is doing much to slow down the number of movies and TV shows that are set to come out, but that’s exactly what we need. The MCU needs to refocus its sights and practice a bit of quality control. When fewer projects are being made, there’s less to refine, meaning Feige and the gang can toil away at something until it’s absolutely perfect (or at least close to it). In turn, audiences will be happy because they aren’t being fed half-baked releases. This is all without mentioning that all good things come to an end! If there was a clear ending in sight, not just for the Multiverse Saga but the MCU in general, then audiences would have a reason to care again. Endings establish stakes. We need to know that we’re actually investing our time into something that is heading somewhere, not a project that’s stuck floating in narrative purgatory. That’s what made Endgame such a success. If that were to be done with the entire MCU, then there’s no telling how many people would show up.

There’s too much going for the MCU and far too many beloved, iconic elements to start from the ground up. Whether or not Secret Wars pulls off some sort of soft reboot or not, we’ll see. Marvel could use that film to keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t, but there isn’t much that they need to purge in the first place. We love what this franchise used to be, and would love to see it return to that degree of quality. Marvel isn’t in the same place that the DCEU was just a few months ago, nor was it facing the same problems at any point in its history. The DCEU has its passionate fans, but it never truly took off for everyone in the way that the MCU did. Don’t start things over, Marvel. You have all the right pieces in your corner. Take your time to make the wisest next move, and you might win audiences over again.

Echo is available to stream on Disney+ in the U.S.

Watch on Disney+



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