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Is the "golden age" of Marvel movies over?

Why have superhero films been failing?

Article at MSN Gamerant

Some good points are made in the article, though maybe it is being a bit too polite about it, for example saying that audiences are being derisive about "too much CGI" in the movies, and while that's true, that's not the only thing audiences are derisive about and maybe not even specifically there being "too much" versus "not good enough."

Article also mentions how just ten years ago it was "thrilling" that the superhero movies were interconnected and building on a single story line but now it is "depressing" without going forward to say the obvious: the recent story lines are depressive.

The article looks at earnings versus production costs and makes the logical statement that production costs at Marvel/Disney are out of control, and so of course with these large built-in costs its tough for Marvel to make money with these films.

I have an alternative view which is only provisional and based upon a suspicion: this situation reminds me of Joan Didion's "movie making paradigm" that in some film projects all the creativity goes into making the contracts for earnings for the invested participants and even when the film tanks the front-end people are making money, or that is, have already made their money, and in a way it just doesn't matter if the film makes a profit because "the check has already cleared" for a number of people inside the production before the film even gets to theaters (I've taken some liberties in paraphrasing what Didion says about these matters based upon her long association with Hollywood).

I think the point I'm making is plain, there's much money being doled out with these movies and it has nothing to do with an eye toward eventual box office. The question becomes one about not the quality of these films, which is an assumption that the people making the films even want quality, instead the question is how is it there are powerful people involved who can profit off a production and not care about the audience reaction or the final financial situation of the production?

The assumption that quality and artistry are the goals of a film production is what powers the logic of the article at Gamerant and I cannot say for sure that they are wrong. The "advice" the writer (Joshua McCoy) gives is that Marvel needs to focus on creative people being given the tools to do a good job and to pay them what they're worth. But my alternative view is that there could be matters involved that have nothing to do with artistic quality, and the reaction of an audience is an issue not particularly cared about as compared to other things having to do with contracts, pre-production payments, and that bugaboo of the 21st century, ideological goal making. That is, the most important effort for a number of bloated-out films is not artistry, though we are always told that in cinema making that is the raison d'être, instead, artistry is subjugated to editorial and greed, a bizarre and strange combination.

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Original page February 21, 2023