Is Marvel the New Star Wars?

When Disney bought Star Wars it was clear that they meant to make Star Wars another Marvel-like mega-franchise, producing rather than a new hit every two or three years, two or three billion-dollar hits a year.

All of this fell apart pretty quickly — by the third movie, in fact, with The Last Jedi getting such a poor reception that supporters insisted Russian robots must be behind it, and a half year later Solo flopping hard. (Going by the rule of thumb that, all other things being equal, a movie needs to make four to five times its production budget, to break even on its theatrical run Solo may have needed $1 billion-plus. It didn’t even break the $400 million barrier.)

And so all those projects, like that Boba Fett movie, fell by the wayside as Disney settled for just putting out Episode IX to an underwhelming reception (with a global gross about a fifth less than what The Last Jedi had).

In the three years since, amid much firing and replacement of directors and much launching and cancellation of projects, we have not had a single new Star Wars movie even make it into production, and there will not be another such release for at least a year. (Maybe Taika Waititi will make his “untitled” movie, maybe he won’t.)

The result is that it seems safe to say that the plan to transform the Star Wars franchise into a Marvel-like movie machine failed — and miserably — with the profusion of small-screen Star Wars unlikely to be satisfactory compensation financially with even the best response (and the shows would not seem to consistently have that).

Now it seems that not only is it the case that Star Wars did not become the new Marvel — but Marvel may be starting to look like Star Wars as its own movies, post-Phase 3, even with the box office normalizing, give an impression of a declining trend, the franchise’s best days behind it. (Even Black Panther 2 seems on track to make just half what the first film did in inflation-adjusted terms.)

All this is not so very mysterious. Even a mega-franchise has its limits, and at this stage of things many of its individual components (like Thor) give an impression of exhaustion, with this increasingly characteristic of the none-too-inspired whole. Still, in contrast with the shock Solo delivered to Disney with Marvel what we are seeing is a slower decline, with the result that we will probably see Marvel finish out Phase 5 . . . while looking increasingly past its prime, Marvel, like Star Wars before it (and James Bond before that), going from the stature of king of the marketplace to just another franchise cranking out more movies which have nothing really new or interesting to offer because the brand name retains enough cachet for people to keep coming to see them to make it look as if it worth the producers’ while — all as the bigger movie market grows ever more stagnant.

In short, far from making Star Wars into the Marvel, Marvel is now the “new” Star Wars.

Originally published at https://raritania.blogspot.com.

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Nader Elhefnawy

Nader Elhefnawy is the author of the thriller The Shadows of Olympus. Besides Medium, you can find him online at his personal blog, Raritania.