‘The Marvels’ Divides Movie Critics: Breezy Fun vs. “Abject Misery”

Box Office Bomb: ‘The Marvels’ Opening to $47M-$52M in New Low for Marvel Studios

The Marvels is anything but marvelous so far at the box office.

Based on Friday earnings of $21.5 million, the Marvel Studios and Disney superhero tentpole is headed for a domestic opening of $47 million to $52 million to rank as the worst start in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvels marks a new low for Kevin Feige‘s Marvel Studios, which for years was unrivaled in its success, and bolsters the theory that superhero fatigue is a real thing as fanboys grow weary of a glut of titles and are far less forgiving.

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Until now, rival DC was the superhero studio that endured the biggest ups and downs, with a good number of its films opening to $50 million or less (in comparison, many MCU releases started with $100 million or more domestically). This summer, DC’s The Flash debuted to a dismal $55 million domestically on its way to topping out at a paltry $270.6 million globally.

Word of mouth is already hurting The Marvels, which is only the third MCU title to receive a B CinemaScore from audiences after Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania. The vast majority of MCU releases have earned some variation of an A. Its Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score of 62 percent is likewise on the lower end.

The 33rd installment in the MCU is a sequel to the 2019 Brie Larson starrer Captain Marvel, which opened to $153.4 million in North America on its way to earning a massive $1.13 billion worldwide, not adjusted for inflation. That movie had a clear advantage in that it was teased in the post-credit scene of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, while its titular star was a player in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame (it was released between the two Marvel mega-blockbusters).

To date, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk holds the record for the lowest domestic opening of any MCU title at $55.4 million, not adjusted for inflation (Marvel, which wasn’t owned by Disney at the time, partnered with Universal for Hulk). The next lowest MCU opening belongs to Marvel/Disney’s Ant-Man, which started with $57.2 million domestically in 2015.

In the new movie, Larson is joined by Iman Vellani, the breakout star of the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, as well as Teyonah Parris as the grown-up version of Captain Marvel character Monica Rambeau. The actor made her Marvel debut with WandaVision, which counted The Marvels screenwriter Megan McDonnell among its writers.

The Marvels is unique for a superhero film in that it stars three female leads. It was directed by Nia DaCosta, who is the first Black woman to direct a Marvel Studios movie, as well as the youngest director of an MCU film (DaCosta turns 34 on Nov. 8). Marvel has taken pride in fostering such indie directors as Ryan Coogler, Taika Waititi and Chloé Zhao.

The cast of The Marvels wasn’t able to do any promotion or publicity because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, although Larson and her co-stars sprung into action Thursday after the strike ended. Larson appeared on The Tonight Show on Friday, while she and her co-stars will surprise fans at various screenings of the movie in New York City.

Overseas, The Marvels is pacing to open to $60 million for a global start of $140 million, compared to nearly $190 million for Captain Marvel.