Disney boss Bob Iger needs recent Marvel superheroes
Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania.
After a fourth Thor movie and even a third standalone Ant-Man movie Disney CEO Bob Iger wants something new from Marvel.
“Sequels have typically worked well for us,” Iger said during Thursday’s Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. “For example, do you need a third and a fourth? Or is it time to move on to other characters?”
His comments follow the disappointing box office success of Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania. As of Sunday, the film, which has been in theaters for three weeks, has grossed just $420 million worldwide.
Domestically, the film failed after premiering with a $104 million opening weekend with total ticket sales of $187 million. While that beats the total domestic box office gross of the first Ant-Man in 2015, it’s a sharp drop from the pre-pandemic average. Especially considering the film stars the next big villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kang.
“There’s nothing unusual about the Marvel brand in any way,” Iger said. “I think we just have to look at what characters and stories we’re tearing down, and if you look at Marvel’s trajectory over the next five years, you’re going to see a lot of new things. We’re going to revisit the Avengers franchise, but with a very different set of Avengers.”
Iger’s comments come as he orchestrates a major restructuring of the company that aims to reduce costs by $5.5 billion — $3 billion of which will come from content.
Disney has been releasing new content from the MCU at a somewhat hectic pace over the past few years. The company has used the Disney+ streaming service as a vehicle to introduce new characters — Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk — as well as explore older characters (Loki, Falcon, the Winter Soldier) in-depth between releases.
As the MCU grows, some have gotten behind the franchise and are excited about new entrants and content. Others found the requisite viewing of additional series tedious and questioned whether Disney should slow down its release rate.
The company’s breakneck pace of distributing content has also put a lot of pressure on visual effects groups tasked with turning green-screen action sequences into eye candy. The studio’s increased output has exacerbated the production issues faced by these third-party providers following the pandemic closures. The result has been some criticism of overpowering superpowered effects or sloppy CGI backgrounds that appear confused.
Marvel has started distributing its releases. Following February’s Quantumania, the studio will release Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in May and has pushed back The Marvels, previously scheduled for July, to November.
Also, the time span between Disney+ Marvel series has grown. A new Marvel series hasn’t come out since the launch of the final episodes of She-Hulk in early October. Secret Invasion and Season 2 of Loki are next on the list, but Disney hasn’t announced release dates for either yet.
“There are many more stories to tell,” said Iger on Thursday.