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Marvel Studios' biggest villain is its own reputation

Forget Kang, Marvel's biggest villain is itself

Marvel streaming service promo image
Image credit: Disney

With the last-minute debut of the newest The Marvels trailer, it has become clear that Marvel Studios is struggling to compete with its glory days. Not only was nearly a quarter of the two-minute trailer just vaseline lens clips from old Avengers movies, the rest of the trailer has completely dropped its previous tactic of marketing the newest Marvel movie as a fun family-friendly romp and resold it as a movie that will change the MCU.

This last-minute shift in marketing tactic most likely means that Marvel Studios is scrambling to respond to the terrifyingly low tracking numbers for a movie they were probably hoping would be their next Captain Marvel. Since the family-friendly angle wasn't working, it's makes some sort of sense to rely on the old chestnut of - Hey! You remember that these movies all link together, and if you want to know what's happening, you can't miss any of them? You're gonna have to watch this one, even if it doesn't quite appeal to you.

It's funny though, because at the very same time that Marvel Studios is leaning into their old strategy with the season 2 of Loki and The Marvels, they're pulling the brakes on the same line of thought with their upcoming Disney+ original series Echo, as they introduce a Marvel Spotlight line, which instead promises the lack of tie-in appeal to the Marvel Universe - Hey! You remember those movies that all link together? You don't have to watch those to watch this!

Over the past decade, Marvel created an extremely effective way of getting people to invest in watching a slate of twenty movies, and it's now becoming clear that this achievement is not easily replicable. Marvel must be catching on that what has worked before isn't working now, so they're creating other avenues to sell their stuff, though its not a good sign that they're also falling back on that old plan at the same time.

Considering the fact that Marvel is setting up a whole new storyline with The Marvels and Loki season 2, at lot is riding on the sucess of Marvel's output this month. But even if the set-up works on a narrative level, it seems the audience might just not be there for it. I wonder if The Marvels and Loki season 2 really do fall flat, Marvel Studios will pull the plug on the multiverse plan they're setting up and start afresh. But if their approach to The Marvels is indicative of their future, they may just keep going and tweaking their marketing strategies and hope that the hard sell will get the audience to change their minds after all.

The Marvels hits theaters this Friday. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets.

The Marvels: Release date, trailers, cast and more from the Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Photon team up movie.