Disney Exec Blames The Marvels Flop on Bigoted Audience Members

By David Thompson Posted:
Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson, in The Marvels

A Disney executive reportedly blames sexist audience members for the recent box office failures of films like The Marvels.

The lowest-earning MCU movie of all time is The Marvels. Earning just $206 million worldwide, its poor performance wasn't on Disney's 2023 bingo card heading into a promising theatrical year.

Ultimately, Disney was outgrossed by Universal Pictures at last year's global box office, and disappointments like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Haunted Mansion, and Wish outweighed successes like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Heading into 2024, the theatrical outlook is trending down following the writers' and actors' strikes. Disney is pointing fingers instead of taking accountability for recent critical and audience misfires.

Disney Exec Calls Out Bigoted Fans

Iman Vellani and Brie Larson in The Marvels

Matt Belloni, an entertainment reporter for Puck, recently published a newsletter with a statement from an unnamed Disney executive.

Belloni explained that this message from the Disney exec responded to a recent article he published which covered "whether the politicization of the Disney brand impacts box office."

This was met with a relatively harsh response from the executive, targeting politicized audience members who "equate the perceived messaging in a film as a quality issue:"

"Everyone says 'It’s the movies, stupid,' which is an easy thing for people to say. More appealing movies are a great way to jump the political issues. But more and more, our audience (or the segment of the audience that has been politicized) equate the perceived messaging in a film as a quality issue. 

In terms of recent quality, Disney Animation's Wish (starring Ariana DeBose) received a historically low 48% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The message also highlighted other female-led films like The Marvels and Star Wars (starring Daisy Ridley) while noting that they believe audience members "won’t say they find female empowerment distasteful," however, "they will say they don’t like those movies because they are ‘bad:’"

"They won’t say they find female empowerment distasteful in The Marvels or Star Wars [the latest trilogy starring Daisy Ridley], but they will say they don’t like those movies because they are ‘bad.’ "

Ridley's latest Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, is regarded by many as one of the worst in the franchise. While The Marvels isn't as maligned, it earned the worst CinemaScore of any Marvel Studios movie.

The anonymous exec ended the message by stating that the audience asking for Disney to "make movies better" actually means "make movies that conform to regressive gender stereotypes or put men front and center in the narrative:"

"So ‘make better movies’ becomes code for ‘make movies that conform to regressive gender stereotypes or put men front and center in the narrative.’ Which is what you’re seeing now, and what Bob [Iger]’s pivot is about right now."

Part of Iger's "pivot" is focusing on sequels in theaters, like the newly announced Moana 2, and slowing down Marvel Studios' output to emphasize quality.

Reactions have spread across the internet based on this recent newsletter and controversial message from Disney.

In general, it's unclear and upsetting to many fans of Disney why the viewers are being blamed for recent studio stumbles at the box office. 

It's no secret that Disney has produced more inclusive content, sometimes called "woke" by politicians and others, but putting all the blame on those viewing the movies seems misguided. 

Sure, there are likely those out there who scoff at the idea of a female-led superhero team-up like in The Marvels. However, treating this politicized issue or simply believing most audience members are bigots is an unfair generalization.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn't been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the slew of delays, fans have been bombarded with series on Disney+ and films on the big screen.

Keeping up with everything in the MCU has never become more difficult. Then, when projects like Eternals, Thor: Love And Thunder, and Secret Invasion disappoint audience members, the fandom becomes more cracked.

Story will always be king. Captain Marvel, one of the MCU's biggest box office earners, was female-driven. While the movie itself received mixed reviews, it was taking place at the end of the Infinity Saga, a stretch on connected films that changed Hollywood forever.

As Disney re-directs the ship to "put men front and center," hopefully, Disney remembers that great storytelling will often be rewarded, no matter the age, race, or gender demographics of the project's leading stars.

[ Disney Just Suffered 2 Major Box Office Flops In a Row ]

The Marvels is streaming now on Disney+.

- In This Article: The Marvels
Release Date
November 10, 2023
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.