Marvel Studios Boss Admits 2023 Was a ‘Rough Time,’ but Says: ‘If We Just Stayed on Top, That Would’ve Been the Worst Thing’ and ‘We Learned Our Lesson’

Marvel's Ant-Man
©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito admitted to Empire magazine that “it’s been a rough time” for the Marvel Cinematic Universe following a rocky 2023 that included box office flops “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “The Marvels.” The latter title is the lowest-grossing MCU movie of all time with just $206 million worldwide. Marvel didn’t fare better on television, where series such as “Secret Invasion” were widely panned by critics.

Despite these setbacks, D’Esposito is committed to seeing the glass half full. He told the publication that “if we just stayed on top, that would have been the worst thing that could have happened to us. We took a little hit, we’re coming back strong.”

“Maybe when you do too much, you dilute yourself a little bit,” D’Esposito added. “We’re not going to do that anymore. We learned our lesson. Maybe two to three films a year and one or two shows, as opposed to doing four films and four shows.”

D’Esposito’s comment falls in line with what Disney CEO Bob Iger said May 7 during the company’s quarterly earnings call. Iger said the company was going to reduce output when it comes to Marvel, adding: “We’re slowly going to decrease volume and go to probably about two TV series a year instead of what had become four and reduce our film output from maybe four a year to two, or a maximum of three. And we’re working hard on what that path is.”

There is only one Marvel movie opening in theaters this year, and it’s a big one: “Deadpool and Wolverine.” The tentpole, starring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman, is set to be one of the biggest films of 2024 at a time when Marvel desperately needs a box office hit. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige told Empire that he’s comfortable with being an underdog again, which is the same position he found himself before “Iron Man” launched the MCU in 2008.

“It’s nice to be able to rally behind one feature project this year,” Feige said. “I’m much more comfortable being the underdog. I prefer being able to surprise, and exceed expectations. So it does seem like the last year, which has not been ideal, has set us up well for that.”

“Deadpool and Wolverine” director Shawn Levy added, “You’d have to live under a rock not to know that the last few Marvel movies have failed to ignite the world in the way that so many did. We do come along at an interesting time. And we are decidedly something different. Whether it is of Messianic proportions, time will tell.”

Disney is opening “Deadpool and Wolverine” in theaters nationwide on July 26.

From Variety US