Seeing the disappointing box office results for SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS, the industry’s Monday morning quarterbacks engaged in a lively discussion on where to assign the blame.
On the one hand, SHAZAM! 2 may have fallen flat because the movie itself was not very well received, with both critics and audiences giving it significantly lower scores than the original SHAZAM! from 2019.
In addition, some have speculated that SHAZAM! 2’s shortfall was due to its association with the previous creative regime at DC. Some are pointing to disarray at DC Studios, including numerous plot threads in SHAZAM! 2 that are now unlikely to be taken up in future releases. These include (spoiler alert!) cameos from Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam, suggesting appearances in future movies that may never occur.
James Gunn and Peter Safran, the newly appointed leaders of DC Studios, have already made it known that Gadot and The Rock will not be coming back to the DC Extended Universe. SHAZAM may be joined by the rest of the 2023 DC film slate as lame ducks in the franchise. DC is set to release THE FLASH (6/16/23), BLUE BEETLE (8/18/23), and AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM (12/25/23).
Others pointed to a decline in interest in the superhero genre overall. After a decent opening weekend performance for ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, the sequel suffered a precipitous drop in its second weekend as the impact of bad reviews and audience feedback took its toll.
This fits into a larger problem for Marvel Studios, as the movies from its “Phase 4” series have fallen flat compared to earlier titles up to and including AVENGERS: ENDGAME in 2019. Are audiences experiencing “superhero fatigue” and turning away from the genre overall? Results from the upcoming releases of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 3, THE FLASH, THE MARVELS, and AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM should provide clear answers.