“The Marvels” goes lower, nearer, and slower with MCU's worst box office opening ever

Brie Larson returned as Captain Marvel but couldn't defeat superhero ennui.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe just got the snap kicked out of it.

It's been 15 years of nearly nonstop superhero movies pummeling cinemas, and now fatigue seems to have more than settled in — it's pulled up a comfy couch, put up its feet, and started forwarding its mail.

The Marvels, the 33rd installment in the MCU, premiered with a franchise low of $47 million domestically, reports Comscore. The sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel, which introduced Brie Larson's titular character, pulled in another $63.3 million internationally, for a global total of $110.3 million.

Laura Radford/Marvel Studios Brie Larson in 'The Marvels'
Laura Radford/Marvel Studios Brie Larson in 'The Marvels'

That's nothing to sneeze at, but for the MCU — and for a hero whose motto is "Higher, further, faster" — it's more than a bit disappointing. By comparison, Captain Marvel, benefitting from its place between the releases of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Avengers: Endgame, debuted worldwide with $456.7 million, becoming the sixth-biggest opening of all time and the biggest opening for a film with a female lead. Captain Marvel opened domestically to $153.4 million, making The Marvels the first sequel to debut with more than $100 million less than its predecessor.

Directed by Nia DaCosta (Candyman), the first Black woman to helm an MCU film, The Marvels features Larson's Captain Marvel teaming up with Iman Vellani's Kamala Khan — a.k.a. Ms. Marvel — and Teyonah Parris' Monica Rambeau. Reviews were solid, but audiences, even die-hard fans, now seem "super" exhausted as the stories continue to be formulaic and the logic holding them all together increasingly confusing.

Laura Radford/Marvel Studios Iman Vellani, Brie Larson, and Teyonah Parris in 'The Marvels'
Laura Radford/Marvel Studios Iman Vellani, Brie Larson, and Teyonah Parris in 'The Marvels'

The actors' strike, which ended just before the film's premiere on Friday, certainly didn't help with its box office performance, but neither does the fact that we're 33 movies into the MCU with nary an X-Men film in sight. Just sayin'. The MCU will have a decreased presence in theaters next year with only Deadpool 3 planned for release, possibly giving Disney enough time to figure out its next crucial steps and maybe pump out X-Men '97 on TV.

Patti Perret/Universal Pictures 'Five Nights at Freddy's'
Patti Perret/Universal Pictures 'Five Nights at Freddy's'

Meanwhile, Blumehouse's Five Nights at Freddy's dropped from the top spot in its third week of release with $9 million, bringing its domestic cume to $127.2 million ($251.9 million globally), while Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour grossed $5.9 million, for a five-week domestic total of $172.5 million ($240.9 million globally).

Sofia Coppola's Priscilla earned $4.8 million in its third week of release, for a cume of $12.7 million, while Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon rounded out the top 5 at the box office with $4.7 million, bringing its four-week total to $59.9 million domestically ($137 million worldwide).

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