Outposters. Sometimes it takes days. Sometimes it takes years. Eventually, they are always proved correct. Their movie instincts are rarely wrong. Even when an idea isn’t fully formed, a discussion in the Disqus usually builds the idea out. For years now, since the very first of the post-Endgame content dropped, outposters have been talking about problems at Marvel.
At first, our Outposters seemed like lone voices in the wilderness. Over time, more and more came around to their way of thinking. Finally… eventually… Hollywood has caught up. Its own bible, Variety, has openly begun to question Marvel and the current state of play.
In a gigantic feature article, they now ask – “Is Marvel In Trouble?”
The article basically echoes what our Outposters have said for nearly half a decade now. The quality has slipped and it seems like nobody is really in control. The starting point of the story told in the article is how the mood was somber at their last executive retreat in Palm Springs. How past cockiness has been replaced by angst.
They know they have an approaching Jonathan Majors issue, and they are not quite sure how to solve it given he is integral to their next phase across all media. The Loki finale is already in the can and this sets him up as the big-bad for the next Avengers movie in a big way. They can’t do anything about it, even if they knew what to do, as writers were on strike, and actors remain on strike. They are paralysed.
Even if they could, the article says they may not have the headroom. The reason? Too much work in progress. Disney+ has a voracious appetite for content, and COVID placed it up the priority list for the studio. This stretched the studio, and the cracks started to appear. As Wall Street analyst Eric Handler says in the article:
“The Marvel machine was pumping out a lot of content. Did it get to the point where there was just too much, and they were burning people out on superheroes? It’s possible. The more you do, the tougher it is to maintain quality. They tried experimenting with breaking in some new characters, like Shang-Chi and Eternals, with mixed results. With budgets as big as these, you need home runs.”
No home runs are coming. The Marvels opens in theaters on Nov. 10 and cost $250 million. It is destined to struggle and certainly will open low for Marvel.
The article states that Kevin Feige’s power has been in the finish. That he could wrap his arms around movies that were just not quite working and make them work. With all this content flowing, the man is spread too thin, and bad quality is slipping through.
This was seen in Antman And The Wasp: Quantumania. The sheer amount of content had left the VFX teams stretched, beleaguered, and exhausted. When the premier of Antman was screened, the technical people in the audience were said to be shocked that such shoddy work had been allowed to make it into the final version. They quote an industry veteran who was at the premier:
“There were at least 10 scenes where the visual effects had been added at the last minute and were out of focus. It was insane. I’ve never seen something like that in my entire career. Everyone was talking about it. Even the kids of executives were talking about it.”
Former Marvel Studios VFX assistant coordinator Anna George, who appeared before the Congressional Labor Caucus on Oct. 19 to testify about the studio’s untenable deadlines and working conditions said these deadlines within the never-ending production line were the killer:
“The pay and long hours at Marvel were the reason we had to start our unionization process there. The conditions were completely unsustainable.”
Disney’s newly returned CEO Bob Iger was said to be absolutely furious about the issues, and this may have been a key driver in Victoria Alonso being exited from the business. However, the article also talks about VFX issues being a symptom, but not the cause. Talking She-Hulk, the whole schedule was apparently switched up and moved complex CG transformation scenes earlier in the show, meaning the timelines were compressed. These are pre-production issues that impact post-production.
Feige is apparently becoming more ruthless, canning things that aren’t working. The Blade reboot has gone through at least five writers, two directors and one shutdown six weeks before production. An insider says the script was so turned around that at one point morphed into a narrative led by women and was filled with life lessons, and Blade was relegated to the fourth lead. Feige stepped in and yanked it, sending it back to the drawing board.
The article says that the budget may be locked at $100 million, way down on Antman 3 with a $250 million budget and She-Hulk coming in at $25 million an episode. And there we are again, the idiots of Tinseltown finally getting onto the wavelength of our Outposters who have also been talking budget-bloat for a couple of years now.
More Outposter psychic powers, or common sense, are echoed in the article when it talks about quantity. Iger himself publicly said that there is too much superhero content and it needs to be paired back. The studio is also repeating your mantra when it talks about the characters themselves.
To this end, there is talk about the need to bring back the original big hitters including Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johanssen for any new Avengers movie. Some may have died onscreen, but this is comic books, so…
Basically, the Variety article could have simply been cribbed from all of our discussions in our community here. Common sense may be dawning out there in the town of morons. You can’t write Marvel off. Fantastic Four and X-Men are back in the tent, and they have found a way to bring in Deadpool. If they really are going to learn some lessons here then its not too late. As Jason Squire, professor emeritus at USC School of Cinematic Arts and host of The Movie Business Podcast says:
“Writing the Marvel obituary would be ill-advised. Kevin Feige is the Babe Ruth of movie executives, and Marvel has the most profitable track record in movie history. No question.”
Whatever happens, we are sure Outposters will carry on being write about just about everything when it comes to movies. To the Disqus!
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