Why Marvel is Losing Traction: Profiting on the Past (spoilers ahead)

We all know superhero movies: explosions, tragic backstories, and plenty of morally gray villains. One of the most well known superhero movie producers is Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a plethora of good movies and characters. Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk– These characters are dear to many people all around the world.
After “Avengers: Endgame,” we lost some of those beloved personalities. Some, like Iron Man and Black Widow, sacrificed themselves to save the universe; meanwhile, Captain America went back to his old girlfriend. These losses set off a new phase in this fictional universe, with shows and movies the likes of which we had never seen before.
Some of these new pieces of media are the TV shows “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and “Loki,” as well as the movies “Eternals,” “Spiderman: No Way Home,” and the new “Thor: Love and Thunder.” These shows addressed real life problems such as grief and racism, while also adding in fictional problems such as supersoldiers and chaos magic. They proved to be a hopeful start to this new phase, with well written plots and fun characters.
Unfortunately, this hope did not last long. As is the case with many movies, Marvel used the sadness they created in “Endgame” to try to expand. In the newer movies the plot seems to be contingent on characters dying or having their lives ruined. In “Spiderman: No Way Home,” Peter loses his aunt, on top of dealing with his new identity problem. Some may say that this death was pivotal in Peter’s story, but I disagree. Peter has lost many people, such as Tony, his parents, and Uncle Ben. The need for more loss in his life is simply not there.
Another example is the new “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Jane, who is now the Mighty Thor, is battling cancer. The newly restored Mjolnir is only worsening her health, even while making her feel strong for a moment. At the end of the film Jane dies after a battle with Gorr the God Butcher. However, Gorr decides to use the wish he has at Eternity to bring his daughter back to life, thus making her watch him die. Then, he implies that Thor Odinson would be the one taking care of her, which we see at the end of the movie.
I find myself not seeing the logic in this decision. While I understand he wanted his daughter back, it does not make sense to leave her with a stranger you were previously trying to kill .
Another recent issue I have with Marvel is the lack of excitement for future projects. The end credits are no longer building anticipation for things yet to come, but giving us too much insight into the next movie. “Thor: Love and Thunder’s” end credits featured Zeus, a character we just met who had seemed very small and insignificant. He is now, however, being set up to be the next Thor villain. I can’t find myself excited for him to be a villain, because all we saw was him posturing and getting very wounded by Thor.
I also can’t find myself waiting for the next Spiderman movie. Peter Parker is now an orphan, with no parental figures and forgotten by everybody. This even includes the technology made by Tony Stark himself, as seen when he swings away in a new and less advanced suit. It was incredible seeing all of the Spidermen on the same screen, but it is hard to focus on that when the grief Peter is going through is so prominent. It almost seems as if Marvel is setting him up to be a supervillain. We have seen angrier supervillains who were fueled by much less than what Peter has gone through.
The characters introduced in the recent movies have all been rushed, shoved in the same movies as others. In the past, Marvel had 2 or 3 movies to introduce a single main character. Now, it feels as though a new character is introduced every day. They’re all introduced quickly, with flashbacks to their past as opposed to a plot surrounding them. Obviously attention spans have decreased greatly, but that doesn’t seem like a great excuse to decrease the effort put into the characters.
Even after seeing a character for a whole movie, I can’t find myself connecting to them. In “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness,” I found myself rooting for Wanda to kill America. It seemed as though the audience didn’t have the connection to her that they did to Wanda, and there would be no true sadness caused by her dying. Marvel tried to cause the audience to sympathize with America by emphasizing the fact that she was a child, but they also did the same thing with Wanda in “Captain America: Civil War” when Tony ‘locked’ her in the compound. Steve got angry at this, for ostensibly the same reason of her being “Just a kid.” These attempts to incite anger toward Wanda and love toward America failed greatly. Viewers already connected with Wanda, Vision, and partly with her children. That connection made me want Wanda to get her powers and reconnect with her kids.
All in all, the path Marvel is going down seems to interest me less and less every day. The New Avengers have no mentors, and the old ones have all disintegrated one by one. Marvel is trying to take the MCU in a totally different direction, all while losing the fans they had in their previous phases. The attempts they have made at nostalgia have simply made me realize that the characters I cherished are now dead or completely different.
However, Marvel is still very popular, because of the past they have built for themselves. Many fans are reluctant to leave the universe they love, even if it is not as good as it used to be. What was once a great superhero franchise seems to be slowly declining in quality, despite the millions who enjoy its universe.