Kevin Feige’s woke Marvel approach is again proven to be a failure, this time confirmed by merchandise sales, which also includes Lucasfilm and Star Wars.
In the following article, I go over what happened with Disney Star Wars following The Last Jedi and its Consumer Products division and how it is comparable to what is now happening with Marvel (all from Disney).
I go over how Marvel is woke, how Marvel is failing to deliver for Disney Plus and on the big screen, and following that, a toy industry insider offers a look into Marvel’s merchandise sales proving woke Marvel is a huge bust.
Marvel is woke
Regarding Marvel being woke, it really all started with Captain Marvel, made its way into The Avengers: Endgame, then blew up with Kevin Feige’s Phase 4 approach.
Black Widow is a feminist #MeToo movie where among other things fan-favorite villain Taskmaster is replaced by a female character (why not create new ones?) and is the worst-performing Marvel movie at the box office.
Shang-Chi isn’t all that bad but it has been rejected by the Asian audience where I believe they feel the movie is insulting as Shang-Chi has the lowest box office in South Korea among any of the Phase 4 films by nearly 50%.
Eternals is a gender-swapped mess and the insider reveals is the worst selling of the new Marvel merchandise (more on that below).
Do I really need to explain Thor: Love and Thunder?
On the Disney Plus side, Kevin Feige confirmed Doctor Strange wasn’t allowed in WandaVision because he is a white male character.
Loki is replaced by Sylvie.
Falcon replaces Captain America, where the insider reveals Falcon as Falcon actually outsells Falcon as Captain America (more on that below).
Hawkeye is replaced by Kate Bishop.
I actually don’t have anything bad to say about Moon Knight (though following the last episode, Marvel on social media – not the show itself – did confirm it gender-swaps a classic character).
Everything has been changed about Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel to be the MCU’s first mutant.
She-Hulk is woke and has been rejected by fans, completely changes the origin of the character so a man doesn’t save a female, and the show probably has the worst writing and special effects of anything from Marvel in the past 20 years.
So typically what happens is that characters and stories are changed to fulfill a said agenda, which sees said characters and stories sacrificed in order for that said agenda to fit, where the new character makes the original look bad (à la Rey and Luke) — that’s woke.
Oh, did I mention Marvel’s woke producer said that X-Men is outdated simply because it contains the word men?
Disney Consumer Products revenue stagnant
What is now happening with Marvel is much like what happened with Disney Star Wars.
Following me reporting on the decline of Star Wars merchandise every year since the release of The Last Jedi, Disney actually changed how it reports merchandise in its quarterly investor reports, as the company now combines the Consumer Products division with its Parks division.
What this does is hides the losses from merchandise and makes it appear as if both divisions are successful — when what is really going on is that the success of the Parks division offsets the low revenue of the Consumer Products division.
For example, in Disney’s July 2022 investor report (pictured above), it is reported the Parks & Experiences AND Consumer Products division revenue is up 70% from last year, but taking a look at the actual numbers reveals Parks & Experiences is up 95%, while Consumer Products really saw no gain at only 2%.
So again, we see the big success of Parks & Experiences causes Parks & Experiences AND Consumer Products to look like a big success, but in reality, merchandise is failing or flat (more on that below).
What is alarming is that the Disney investor report reveals everything is up from last year, because of COVID, but not its Consumer Products division, which obviously tells us that no one is running to the stores to buy any of the new Disney merchandise, which includes Marvel and Star Wars.
Marvel fans aren’t buying into it
So what is going on?
Well, if fans aren’t buying it, it means they don’t like it.
Earlier also saw it reported that Marvel has been failing to deliver for Disney Plus, as a report from Business Insider, which followed Disney’s stock dropping significantly, stated that the Marvel shows on Disney Plus are only catering to existing fans and are not bringing in any new subscribers.
It’s said that while Marvel has massive success with existing subscribers, the shows haven’t gone far in attracting new fans and growing the subscriber base.
Evidence Marvel isn’t doing anything for Disney Plus comes from the ratings for its two most recent shows, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk, which are pretty much in the gutter (especially Ms. Marvel) as they are the lowest viewed for Marvel on Disney Plus.
More of the same comes from Wall Street analysts who have stated they are skeptical of the Disney Plus streaming service and its Marvel and Star Wars brands’ ability to bring in new subscribers.
The Wall Street analysts and Business Insider’s report has since been proven correct as the July investors report reveals Disney Plus only saw a 5% increase in the number of subscribers in the U.S. and Canada — proving the Marvel and Star Wars brands are doing nothing to increase the subscribers.
We can also add that in addition to the Marvel Disney shows not being all that successful (hence why they have ultra-low budgets from Disney) Kevin Feige’s Phase 4 approach to the movies also hasn’t been that well received as they are among the lowest Marvel films at the box office.
Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Eternals are all at the bottom, and both Doctor Strange 2 and Thor: Love and Thunder are considered to have not lived up to box office potential.
Doctor Strange 2 followed the soon-to-be multi-billion-dollar Spider-Man: No Way Home Multiverse movie but failed to reach a billion when it should easily have done so, and Thor: Love and Thunder is significantly down compared to Ragnarok.
Insider blows the doors of Marvel merchandise
Of course, with the Marvel shows and movies not being successful, that is going to trickle down to merchandise sales.
A toy industry insider blows the doors off Marvel merchandise in a report from That Park Place where the insider reveals only Spider-Man merchandise is really selling, that Captain America and Iron Man are big sellers, and that none of the Phase 4 stuff from Kevin Feige is selling.
Get this, it is even reported that Disney and Marvel mandate what sells, as they mandate female representation, but the problem is none of the female representation is selling, so it cuts into the profits of what does sell, again that being Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man, and to a lesser extent (but larger than the female characters), Thor and Hulk.
So Disney and Marvel know that the female characters don’t make money, and they mandate retailers to sell them anyway, all at the cost of revenue and profit for themselves and the retailers. That’s woke.
Star Wars merchandise continues to be a disaster
The insider offers more of the same regarding Star Wars following The Last Jedi, and we can also add the info is proven correct by the fact fans didn’t back the Moses Ingram Inquisitor lightsaber at Hasbro.
Furthermore, just as I have reported in the past on how there are no new Star Wars movies being made due to the reception to The Last Jedi, no new Star Wars movies in theaters is hurting the brand as well (note bold my own):
Overall we [the toy company holding licensees] have mandates from companies operating in three HUGE consumer categories. Princesses are doing fine for most license holders, no issues. Lucasfilm is a disaster, with new characters having no consumer pull, and worse even classic characters are now seeing diminishing returns.
If it ain’t selling, Walmart doesn’t want your dead plastic, garment, or whatever. Also that the brand is no longer a theatrical brand, didn’t go over well with business partners.
Marvel merchandise down 50%
Regarding Marvel merchandise, the insider reveals Marvel is down 50% in the number of units sold and down 30% in dollars, and that Eternals is the worst:
The new stuff is failing to generate the level 2 and level 3 interest that brings in the big $ branded dollars at retail.
Spider-Man, Cap and Iron Man are holding everything together at this point.
Eternals was the worst across the board, but here is the general statement : female heroes do not sell merchandise.
Marvel asks for female representation
The insider gives an example in that if you were going to ship plastic cups to Marvel, the ideal mix would be two of each of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Iron Man, with one Hulk and Thor, but Marvel would ask for 50% female representation (again, even though they know it doesn’t sell), which could be talked down to 25%, but again the problem is the female characters don’t sell (Todd McFarlane who owns McFarlane Toys also confirms this):
Of course Marvel would ask for 50% female representation, but you could deal that to 25%, were Thor and Hulk are out, replaced by Widow and Wanda. Thor and Hulk outsell Widow by at least 8 to 1, with an even bigger gap for Wanda.
The problem here is as the male heroes sell, and you ship in more case packs, the female heroes back up on the shelves and clog the pipeline (think thousands of stores in the US)… markdowns!
The insider reveals more about Eternals, again Marvel’s worst film at the box office and worst-rated MCU movie, in that Marvel mandated retailers sell the same amount of Eternals merchandise as the classic more popular stuff, but since no one bought Eternals, it brought down the bottom line leading to a big loss:
How about Marvel oblige you to ship a case pack of Eternals-themed drinking cups for each case of Classic Characters shipped… something they did over many categories when Eternals came out …. At that point the markdowns are so significant that you’re losing money in my example.
Marvel Disney Plus doesn’t register with consumers
Much like the Wall Street analysts have said per above, the toy industry insider also reveals none of the Marvel shows on Disney Plus are seeing any interest from fans:
Also: virtually none of the purely TV characters even register with consumers for merchandising purposes. None!
Falcon as Falcon sells better than Falcon as Captain America
The insider continues and offers insights as to what sells where it is learned Falcon as Falcon sells better than Falcon as Captain America:
Marvel management (though not Disney management) know damn well that their creative decisions are impacting merchandising revenue but they are trying to manage things where merch sales from classic characters masks/balanced out poor merch sales from nuMarvel characters.
Two regional observations [for North America]: Cap is number 2 in the US, with Iron man third (both behind Spider-Man), and in Canada Cap is third behind iron man. So Captain America is top 3 in both Canada and the USA. Other note on Cap: blue t-shirt with shield (but no character visual or name) is a USA best seller. Falcon as Falcon outsells Falcon as Captain America in our clients’ categories.
The insider adds that choosing which licensed characters to use is key as the difference could be a couple of hundred thousand units (and millions of dollars).
“Marvel is pushing Falcon, Shang Chi and any female character often obliging you to include a hefty bunch of these in your character mix. Which is the top-selling beach towel? Spider-Man or Shang Chi?” says the insider.