Is Star Wars Or Marvel In Worse Shape Under Disney Right Now?

A decade ago, it seemed like the best deal in the world. Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars for a mere $4 billion, and before that, they’d previously purchased Marvel for the same price, $4 billion. The result was a sprawling empire of comic book movies and TV shows, plus five new Star Wars movies and new shows in that universe as well, spearheading the new Disney Plus streaming era.

Now it’s 2023. Loads more Marvel and Star Wars content is planned, but it’s…not quite the same as it used to be. The biggest movies at the box office this year are Barbie and Mario. The biggest streaming shows are on Netflix and Amazon, not Disney Plus, despite sky-high budgets for both franchises.

What used to be a remarkably consistent track record of quality has become deeply unstable, and we’ve gone from “most things are great” to “a few things are good” in record time. But what’s in the most trouble right now, Marvel or Star Wars? I think you can make cases for both.

Star Wars

We’ll start with that, given that Ahsoka is currently airing. It represents a situation in Disney’s Star Wars that is currently ongoing, the fact that it seems totally fractured into multiple pieces with little tonal or plot cohesion. We had the JJ Abrams/Rian Johnson trilogy, which made a lot of money but is not viewed in hindsight terribly kindly, and the films didn’t even work in conjunction with each other. We have Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau’s TV reign, trying to build something new first with The Mandalorian, but eventually turning both that and Ahsoka into a live-action continuation of Filoni’s animated series. And then we have the parallel universe of Rogue One and Andor, higher quality than anything else in the Disney era, so much so it seems like a totally different world. It’s The Dark Knight to Batman and Robin.

This is the lack of cohesion here. It’s all just scattershot, taking place in different eras before, in the middle of or after the prequels and OG trilogy. Some connecting, others impossible to connect because of the timelines. Each thing feels distinctive but sometimes in a bad way. Blockbuster Joss Whedon-style goofiness in 2 out of 3 trilogy films, while Rian Johnson tried (and failed, with audiences at least) to deconstruct the Star Wars tropes into something more interesting for the middle film which then went on to be promptly ignored.

The Mandalorian has outlived his usefulness, causing those making the show to say that oh it doesn’t have to be about him as the Mandalorian, but any Mandalorian, indicating where that series may be headed. Ahsoka has been okay, but without 11 seasons of connection with these characters, new audiences may be lost.

Still, I think there are relatively few total misses in Star Wars. I’d consider The Rise of Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi to be the only genuinely bad things from the new era (even Solo is better than people say). Everything else does not especially fit together, but it feels like people are having fun with what they have to work with, at least, rather than feeding everything into some shared universe gluttonous machine like Marvel. And Marvel is suffering for it.


Marvel feels like it’s in the worse spot. What used to be a must-see slate of films and hype-creating shows has become a slog, an attempt to recreate the magic that led up to Avengers Endgame, which they’ll never be able to do.

Marvel has released some truly bad movies as of late, the most obvious one being Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which was a very long introduction for Kang, the new supervillain who is very much Not Thanos and is very much in limbo with his actor facing assault charges and other accusations. But also what should have been surefire hits like Thor: Love and Thunder and Multiverse of Madness were not. The best Marvel movie in this recent era has been Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but now Marvel has lost James Gunn who has gone over to run DC, which is not great for them.

The television streaming era for Marvel has been absolutely all over the place in terms of the both the qualities of the shows, but also how they’re handled heading into the future:

Loki – Probably the best, most cohesive, fun series Disney has had. Renewed for season 2 (about to air) relevant to the larger storyline without being absolutely necessary to see. Great job.

WandaVision – A good show by itself, but it shows the remaining disconnect between Marvel movies and Marvel TV, as where they took Wanda after this show into Multiverse of Madness made absolutely no sense.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – The definition of a show that did not need to exist. It’s effectively a six episode explanation of Falcon getting his Captain America costume, but it could be cut and there would be nothing lost between Endgame and Captain America 4.

Hawkeye – A very good show with the charming Hailee Steinfeld as a great new hero, Kate Bishop. When will we see Kate Bishop again? No one has any idea. There’s apparently no second season of this show nor any word we will ever see her in a movie. Bizarre.

She-Hulk – A deeply different experiment that attempted to channel the playfulness and goofiness of She-Hulk in the comics, but was lambasted by Very Angry Men who did not like its feminist messaging or comic-like asides like She-Hulk twerking (in the comics, She-Hulk famously jump-roped naked in one sequence). There seemed to be little room in the Marvel universe for a flat-out comedy, even if it did its job well and the meta ending was one of the most prescient things we’ve seen out of the universe. It did need additional help with its CGI, however, and of course, we have zero idea if it’s getting a season 2 or if we’ll ever see Jen, Bruce or Bruce’s son again.

Ms. Marvel – Iman Vellani is the best-cast Marvel character since Tony Stark’s Iron Man. But her show was not as good as she was in the role. Now, again, we probably have forgone a season 2 for Velani to co-star in The Marvels, which is better than Kate Bishop got, but it’s unclear what they will do with her after that.

Secret Invasion – One of the worst things Marvel has ever made, and the most money they’ve ever set on fire with a shocking $200 million budget. Deeply boring, pointless and a fraction of what a more interesting story was in the comics, it was the biggest miss of this entire era, possibly even including Quantumania.

So yes, I think it’s Marvel, and few upcoming projects short of Loki 2 and maybe the new Daredevil give me hope that’s going to change.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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