IGN Review: Marvel's Biggest Obstacle Now is "Money"

IGN Review: Marvel's Biggest Obstacle Now is "Money"



IGN Review: Marvel's Biggest Obstacle Now is

Recently, there have been reports that Pedro Pascal is in talks with Marvel to star as Mr. Fantastic in "Creation of the Gods." Following this news, IGN commented on Marvel's current challenges, stating that "money" is Marvel's biggest obstacle. They also point out that Pedro Pascal is a perfect embodiment of this issue.

IGN quotes the saying, "If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail." Currently, Disney's sole and true tool is money, especially in recent years, where they have been spending lavishly, but the results are inconsistent. Marvel's main problem in throwing a lot of money at these movies is that, at a certain point, investing more funds in a film will ultimately make it worse. Once the budgets of these blockbusters approach $200 million, they become investments that production companies absolutely cannot afford to fail.

The primary issue with investing more funds in these projects is that production companies tend to lean towards risk avoidance. This manifests as careful reconsideration of creative decisions by directors in post-production and extravagant spending on costly reshoots to take a "safe" route, ensuring a mediocre "B" grade in early audience ratings.

IGN Review: Marvel's Biggest Obstacle Now is

This leads to IGN's first point: it's not a lack of resources but an excess of them—Marvel no longer cultivates stars as they did before. In the early days of the MCU, Marvel knew they needed to control budgets. One of the best ways to achieve this was by controlling costs (i.e., exorbitant salaries). Therefore, they bet on new actors and signed long-term contracts for multiple films. They hired some exceptionally talented C+/B- level actors. Marvel wasn't spending on celebrity appeal but rather betting on the quality of the script, a gamble that proved successful. Those "unknowns" are now megastars.

When Robert Downey Jr. starred in "Iron Man," his salary was $2.5 million, which was already a considerable amount. But by "Endgame," his salary had reached $75 million. After over a decade of absolute box office dominance, Marvel's budgets have inflated to a hindering extent.

The cost of "Captain Marvel 2" is $274 million, whereas the prequel "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" had a budget of $200 million. Since "Endgame," it seems that the company's investments are no longer as judicious.

IGN Review: Marvel's Biggest Obstacle Now is

These film budgets are too high, and artists cannot afford any creative risks. Instead, production companies adopt a safe strategy, creating some forgettable mediocre works.

Another issue is hiring directors. Directors of Marvel films often face conflicts with Marvel Studios, where studio interference in film production may contradict the director's original vision. Movie producers, especially excellent ones, are usually dissatisfied with having to adjust their films to fit others' needs. In Marvel, there is no room for negotiation; these films need to set the stage for other films or even TV shows. Marvel movie directors are like tools, and most high-quality film directors wouldn't accept such work.

There's also the issue of Marvel's output. In economics, there's something called the scarcity principle, which basically means that the more limited the supply of a commodity, the higher the demand for it. For a while, this principle also applied to Marvel. The obvious benefit of Marvel's early limited supply was that Kevin Feige and the leadership of Marvel Studios could concentrate all resources on a few projects, helping to maintain the high quality of the films. It turned out that this slow output was a major driving factor in turning these films into must-see events. At its peak, when they released three films a year, most people could easily keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. Three films had approximately six to eight hours of content. Almost everyone could find time to watch eight hours of movies to stay informed about the story when watching new films.

IGN Review: Marvel's Biggest Obstacle Now is

Now, with the continuous release of Marvel series on Disney+, it's becoming a problem. In 2021, the Marvel Cinematic Universe created over 35 hours of new content in five TV shows and four films. This is a massive amount of content, especially considering that in the previous 11 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe created only about 50 hours of content. If you're going to spend $200 million to produce a movie, you need to make sure that it can attract as many people as possible. However, the complex timeline spanning dozens of movies and TV shows is not conducive to the audience's understanding.

For most casual fans, this is a negative feedback loop, and mainstream audiences gradually lose interest. The more casual fans Marvel loses, the more the Marvel Cinematic Universe will shrink.

As for how to solve these problems, Disney CEO Bob Iger has realized that Marvel's output has exceeded the law of diminishing returns. In fact, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on Disney+ programs have not helped the streaming service turn a profit.

What Marvel needs to do is not only reduce output but also reduce the budget. There has been much discussion about the budget for "Blade," with some calling it less than $100 million. IGN believes this is a step in the right direction. In 1997, "Blade" cost only $45 million to produce and was once Marvel's most successful film.

Marvel needs to commit to creative direction and risk early, following the proven path of movie production, i.e., not starting production without a good script, involving the visual effects team early, and using pre-production to determine what needs to be shot, so you don't have to reshoot or encounter any problems in post-production. High-cost movies can be made on a small budget.